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A State Title for a High School I Once Knew

December 20th, 2014 · No Comments · Football, Sports Journalism, The Sun

I remember when Redlands East Valley High School opened, in the fall of 1997. My son was part of the first freshman class.

REV was the second high school in the Redlands Unified School District, and opened about a century later than the first — Redlands High School.

In most areas of endeavor, it didn’t take long for REV to catch up. Football, however, was an exception. After five seasons, REV’s football team was 1-48, with its only victory over a school about one-10th its size.

That is where Kurt Bruich came in, hired as REV’s coach.

At that point in time, he was mostly Dick Bruich’s son. The latter was one of the most prominent sports figures in the history of San Bernardino County as coach of Fontana and Fontana Kaiser. He won 292 games and two large-schools CIF titles in the Southern Section, one of the biggest in the state. He also won two lower-division titles at Kaiser.

He needed more than a decade, but Kurt has nearly caught up with his father. His greatest coaching achievement came tonight in Carson, where the LA Galaxy play, when his REV team defeated Concord Clayton Charter 34-33 in the CIF State Division II title game.

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Jazira: The Goal-Oriented Team for UAE Expats

December 19th, 2014 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Arabian Gulf League, Dubai, Football, France, Italy, soccer, The National, UAE

Al Jazira is an Abu Dhabi club that has been pretty good for most of a decade but hasn’t been particularly good at sealing deals at the end of the UAE soccer season.

In 40 years, the club has one league title (2011), two President Cup championships (2011, 2012) and one Arabian Gulf Cup (2010).

That’s it.

Yet the club may be the most popular among expats in the UAE. In the five years we have been here, Jazira has been front and center in trying to get non-Emiratis into their stadium — which makes them unusual in these parts.

The rest of the league seems happy with their little crowds of neighborhood Emiratis (Dubai) or those from an emirate’s one team in the league (Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, etc.).

They hold the record for biggest crowd (over 38,000, in 2011) and play in the biggest stadium, one particularly easy to find and get to.

And the season they are having now? It’s almost as if they are going out of their way to attract novice or casual fans, or fans who have just arrived in Abu Dhabi.

Because Jazira excels at goals. Scoring them and conceding them. Which makes for the most interesting team in the league.

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Matt Kemp and the Regret Potential

December 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

The long-rumored Dodgers trade with the San Diego Padres went through today.

To the Padres: Matt Kemp, catcher Tim Federowicz and $32 million.

To the Dodgers: Catcher Yasmani Grandal, pitchers Joe Wieland and Zach Eflin.

To the fans: The sinking feeling that the erratic but talented Kemp will come back to haunt them while playing for the Padres.

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Pakistan Cricket and Playing On

December 17th, 2014 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Cricket, The National

A Taliban attack in Pakistan yesterday left 132 schoolchildren dead. It was the worst terror attack in Pakistan’s history.

Today, Pakistan’s national cricket team played New Zealand in a one-day international in Abu Dhabi.

Some wondered at the propriety of it.

Among them was The National’s correspondent Osman Samiuddin, probably the planet’s leading authority on Pakistan cricket. His book on the history of the team — The Unquiet Ones — was published recently.

He covered the match and wrote: “It felt like a match that should not have happened.”

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Lighting the Christmas Tree at Emirates Palace

December 16th, 2014 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, UAE

As we have noted here in years past, Christmas is surprisingly popular in this part of the Arabian Peninsula.

Of course, it is not a religious holiday but, then, it isn’t a very religious holiday in the West, either.

And this week, a massive, artificial, 42-foot Christmas tree has gone up in the enormous lobby at Emirates Palace, the ultra-posh hotel here in Abu Dhabi.

And here is a video of time-lapse photography showing how the tree went up and was decorated, then the lights turned on.

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‘Johnny Football’ Flop Noticed in Arabia

December 15th, 2014 · No Comments · College football, Football, NFL, The National, UAE

One of our British colleagues walked into the sports department of The National today and said: “Johnny Football is a joke!”

Referring to the Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, Heisman Trophy winner, first-round draf pick — and a badly beaten man in his first NFL start, a 30-0 victory by the Cincinnati Bengals.

He had stayed up late (the UAE is nine hours ahead of EST) to watch Manziel’s first game, wondering what all the fuss was about.

Yes, the NFL gets some attention all the way over here in the Arabian Peninsula. Among North American expats, of course, but also among a significant number of European expatriots, too, who saw NFL Europe or some of the NFL highlights packages.

And they noticed Johnny Manziel’s first NFL start was a disaster. As one ESPN correspondent wrote: “Manziel looked like a junior high school kid trying to play a professional team.”

Which is pretty much what our British colleague said.

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Nutrition Emergencies in Abu Dhabi Hospital Cafeterias

December 14th, 2014 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Dubai, The National, UAE

A reporter for The National had a look at the food for sale in the cafeterias at three of the biggest government hospitals in Abu Dhabi …

And few, if any, healthy choices were available.

Eating at the hospital was enough to make people sick.

The story started with the findings of our reporter: Prominent among the hospital cafeteria choices were fried chicken wings, pizza, cake, muffins, French fries (chips, as they are known in Britain) and pasta with cream sauce.

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Fast-Tracked

December 12th, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

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I drove a go-kart once. When I was 10. On the usually empty road that ran in front of my cousins’ house in farm country near Hanford.

I remember two things: How close I was to the ground and how fun it was to drive a real motor vehicle, and not just some putt-putt machine at Disneyland’s Autopia.

Several decades later, I drove a go-kart again. Today, at a sports park in an Abu Dhabi suburb.

My two takeaways are quite different.

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‘New’ Team Tennis … Has Been Done Before

December 11th, 2014 · No Comments · Dubai, Tennis, The National

Tennis fans in Asia have been hearing a lot about a bold, innovative, breakthrough approach to presenting tennis.

Which has been done before.

Nothing new under the sun, indeed. But not if you listen to the people around the International Premier Tennis League.

In fact, it is nothing more than a revival (and tweak) of World Team Tennis, which began play in 1974, 40 years ago, in the U.S.

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Lagging Behind

December 10th, 2014 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Long Beach, Travel

We have stipulated jet lag just kicks my butt. At least, it does going west to east and crossing 10 or more time zones. I have remarked upon this several times, since we have been based in Abu Dhabi.

Going from here to SoCal? Not a huge problem.

But going from California to the eastern end of the Arabian Peninsula?

A big problem, and this is the all-timer because it was my first 12-time-zone west-to-east flight. (The others were a measly 11.)

And it owns me.

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