I think I just paid off my student loan

creighton-university

It’s not often that I have a major life event to update this blog with.

It’s even more rare to have it be such a positive one, so allow me to bask in the glow of this accomplishment for at least one post.

Yes, like the title says, I just finished paying off my student loans. I think.

Now, if you’ve come to this blog post looking to find some secret to freeing yourself from the shackles of debt, I’m afraid I have some bad news.

I didn’t do anything extraordinary. I just got a job and made steady payments.

There were, however, a number of factors that allowed me to do this.

  1. I had parents willing to take on a parent loan. This was a huge advantage for me, and I understand that a lot of students don’t have this luxury. Not to gloat too much about my wonderful parents, but they actually helped put three kids through college. Let the record show that I was against them helping Shelby and Joe.
  2. I spent a year (Fact Check: 3 years) living rent-free in my childhood bedroom after college. Despite the negative connotations of living at home as an adult, this really was an ideal living situation. I always had food, my laundry was done, and there was unlimited access to the family pets. Plus, these years cemented my status as my parents’ favorite child.
  3. The final piece of the puzzle, my memere made sure to give each of the Bourgault children a savings bond on Christmas and their respective birthdays. I had completely forgotten about this money until my mom found the bonds earlier this month.

Well, if you’ve kept reading this far, I figure I might as well regale you with the tale of how I went about possibly finishing off my student loans.

It all started around 7:30 this morning, when I woke up in a panic on a living room couch in the ice cream castle. I had fallen asleep the previous night while watching baseball, forgetting to set an alarm.

Luckily, I managed to wake up an hour and a half before my dentist appointment.

After arriving precisely 13 minutes late, my appointment went off without a hitch. A loose retainer wire was removed, but other than that, my teeth are fine. Thank you for asking.

I walked into the bank with a stack of roughly 36 savings bonds.

A word of caution if you ever decide to do this, they will make you fill out the back of each bond (Signature, address, social security number) before you can cash them in. It took me half an hour. Never had I been less proud to be from “Old Orchard Beach.”

Come to think of it, I should have asked the guy if “OOB” was fine.

Anyway, about an hour later I got the call that the money had been transferred into my account. This was the moment had been waiting for.

I logged into my student loan account using the credentials that were saved to the same Google doc where I keep a list of when my groceries expire.

From there, I was able to submit a payment to get rid of the rest of the balance on my loan.

The transaction is still pending, but I’m sure it will work out for the best. Expect a blog update if it doesn’t, of course.

There’s not much left to do but wait at this point. I spent my whole shift at work thinking about writing this self-indulgent blog post in celebration.

Now here I am, sitting in the same living room where my day started, watching hockey and eating McDonald’s.

I wish there was some significance to my meal, like McDonald’s was my first meal in college or it’s a reminder that a debt-free Matt can stay humble and eat off the dollar menu. In reality, I just wanted McDonald’s, and I’m an adult who can get it whenever I want.

Maybe that’s the moral of this story, that I’m more of an adult now.

Nah, it’s that Creighton University won’t be getting any more of my money.

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An unhelpful guide to the 2019 NCAA Tournament

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Yes folks, once again March is upon us, and that means it’s time for the NCAA Tournament.

Millions of people in the United States are excited to celebrate the annual festival of getting to prove to that the people in the office who spend all day talking about sports really don’t know that much more than everyone else.

I joke, but it cannot be overstated how much the NCAA Tournament is a total crap-shoot.

That’s why people like Warren Buffet can offer you $1 billion for a perfect bracket.

You won’t get it.

I won’t get it.

That being said, let me tell you exactly what is going to happen.

East Region

1. Duke

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Zion Williamson

ANALYSIS: Duke are perennial villains, but there is a caveat this season. Zion Williamson might be the most fun basketball man to ever basketball, and I wish him all the best in the NBA next season. For now though, I can’t root for him because Coach K was a dick to me once.

PREDICTION: National Runner-Up

2. Michigan State

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Cassius Winston

ANALYSIS: Coach to the Izzo once again has his Michigan State squad poised to make a deep run in the tournament. Maybe it’s because I didn’t watch much BIG 10 basketball this season, but I’m not really impressed. Michigan State will be going home early.

PREDICTION: Second Round

3. Louisiana State

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Skylar Mays

ANALYSIS: LSU will be without their head coach for the NCAA Tournament after he was caught on a wire tap in an alleged pay-for-play scheme. It’s going to be real embarrassing when they lose to a bunch of nerds in the first round.

PREDICTION: First Round

4. Virginia Tech

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Kerry Blackshear Jr.

ANALYSIS: Virginia Tech has been competitive in the ACC all season, even beating a Zion-less Duke squad. I just don’t know how I feel trusting a football school when it comes to tournament time. Or at least a football school that focuses on special teams.

PREDICTION: First Round

5. Mississippi State

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Quinndary Weatherspoon

ANALYSIS: Mississippi State is bolstered by the fact that their best player also has a very fun name. That kind of synergy can be a potent combination in March. Look for the Bulldogs to make it to the second weekend.

PREDICTION: Sweet Sixteen

6. Maryland

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Bruno Fernando

ANALYSIS: Maryland was the toughest team for me to figure out in this tournament. I honestly believe they would have lost to Temple in the first round if that’s who they had to face. As it is though, I think the matchups work out nicely for Maryland to go deep into March (or April, whenever the Elite Eight is).

PREDICTION: Elite Eight

7. Louisville

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Jordan Nwora

ANALYSIS: Maryland’s gain is Louisville’s loss. The Cardinals won’t make the Elite Eight, but they will last longer than Rick Pitino in an Italian restaurant.

PREDICTION: Sweet Sixteen

8. Virginia Commonwealth

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Marcus Santos-Silva

ANALYSIS: VCU is led by a couple of Marcuses, which is rare outside of the Boston Celtics. Much like the Celtics, I expect them to win a game before losing the next one.

PREDICTION: Second Round

9. Central Florida

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: B.J. Taylor

ANALYSIS: B.J. Taylor is the best player on UCF, but he might not be the first one you notice. Tacko Fall is a giant man, and it will be fun to watch him play in the one game we get to see him. Hopefully he can make his way to the NBA after this season.

PREDICTION: First Round

10. Minnesota

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Jordan Murphy

ANALYSIS: Minnesota is one of four 10 seeds who I believe will get shafted by the exceptionally strong 7 seeds in this tournament. As much as I like saying “Go Gophs!” I can’t get behind them.

PREDICTION: First Round

11. Belmont

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Dylan Windler

ANALYSIS: Belmont beat Temple, which was no easy feat. Unfortunately, I don’t think they match up well with Maryland, so they’ll be going home early.

PREDICTION: First Round

12. Liberty

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Scottie James

ANALYSIS: Liberty is a wonderful university, and I would never say anything bad about it or its wonderful president, Jerry Falwell Jr. Every good American should support this righteous school on its quest from God.

PREDICTION: First Round

13. Saint Louis

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Javon Bess

ANALYSIS: Saint Louis were supposed to be world-beaters in the Atlantic 10 this season. They didn’t look so good in conference play, but turned their whole season around during the conference tournament. I think that can carry the Billikens into the second round.

PREDICTION: Second Round

14. Yale

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Miye Oni

ANALYSIS: Yale is a fast, smart team who I fell in love with after watching the Ivy League championship game. I think they can get past a coachless LSU squad, but any further would be a miracle.

PREDICTION: Second Round

15. Bradley

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Darrell Brown

ANALYSIS: I got to watch Bradley play in person my first three years of college. I doubt they’ve gotten any better since then.

PREDICTION: First Round

16. North Dakota State

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Vinnie Shahid

ANALYSIS: The Bison are a powerhouse football school, but even then I think Zion and company would win by three touchdowns.

PREDICTION: First Round

South Region

1. Virginia

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: De’Andre Hunter

ANALYSIS: Virginia plays ugly basketball, but that’s been their brand for a while now. They have the defense to beat anybody, but their slow pace keeps them from coming back if they get down early. This formula can only work for so long.

PREDICTION: Elite Eight

2. Tennessee

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Grant Williams

ANALYSIS: Tennessee is the top team that I trust the least heading into this tournament. Maybe it’s the pants they wear on the sideline. That’s gotta be it.

PREDICTION: First Round

3. Purdue

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Carsen Edwards

ANALYSIS: Purdue are perennial disappointments in March. But if there goal is to make it to the Sweet Sixteen, I think they get there. They can’t possibly think they’re going to win the whole thing, right?

PREDICTION: Sweet Sixteen

4. Kansas State

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Barry Brown

ANALYSIS: The Michael Beasley of colleges has had a fantastic year, but I can’t see Kansas State making it to the second weekend this season.

PREDICTION: Second Round

5. Wisconsin

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Ethan Happ

ANALYSIS: The Badgers are like the anti-Purdue, always making it a step further than they’re supposed to. This season, that’s the Sweet Sixteen. On Wisconsin!

PREDICTION: Sweet Sixteen

6. Villanova

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Phil Booth

ANALYSIS: The Wildcats were once again the best team in a very mediocre Big East this season. So while my Creighton Bluejays have the pleasure of winning the NIT, Nova get to be bounced in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

PREDICTION: First Round

7. Cincinnati

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Jarron Cumberland

ANALYSIS: They’re bears. They’re cats. Cincinnati is the best of both worlds, and that will be the difference against Zion Williamson and the Dukies. Now if only I could remember how to spell “Cincinnati” on the first try.

PREDICTION: National Champions

8. Mississippi

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Breein Tyree

ANALYSIS: How would you even go about pronouncing that kid’s name? Bree-in? Bree-anne? Breen? Can you tell I’m sleep deprived?

PREDICTION: Second Round

9. Oklahoma

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Kristian Doolittle

ANALYSIS: For real, it’s 3 a.m. and I’m not even halfway done. Are you even reading this? I’m falling asleep listening to Keith Sweat and trying to pretend to care about Oklahoma basketball.

PREDICTION: First Round

10. Iowa

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Joe Wieskamp

ANALYSIS: Iowa is the first team who could completely derail my national champion, and for that I wish them all of the ills in the world. I hope they get lost on the way to the arena.

PREDICTION: First Round

11. Saint Mary’s

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Jordan Ford

ANALYSIS: Eye test Saint Mary’s isn’t that impressive, but they are analytics darlings. That’s gotta be worth a win, right?

PREDICTION: Second Round

12. Oregon

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Payton Pritchard

ANALYSIS: Without Bol Bol, do we even care about Dana Altman’s team? The answer is no. The people want Bol Bol.

PREDICTION: First Round

13. UC Irvine

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Jonathan Galloway

ANALYSIS: They’re Anteaters! That’s fun! Pretend you’re having fun with me!

PREDICTION: First Round

14. Old Dominion

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Ahmad Caver

ANALYSIS: I just sat on my bed for a second and it felt amazing. I really need to finish this. Let’s all agree not to care about Old Dominion.

PREDICTION: First Round

15. Colgate

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Rapolas Ivanauskas

ANALYSIS: Colgate is a team built to upset one of the big boys. The Patriot League champs shoot from distance exceptionally well, and I think a hot streak could push them through to the second round.

PREDICTION: Second Round

16. Gardner-Webb

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: David Efianayi

ANALYSIS: Someone seriously just sent me a Sanpchat. What are you doing? It’s so late, go to bed!

PREDICTION: First Round

Midwest Region

1. North Carolina

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Cameron Johnson

ANALYSIS: The Midwest is easily the most open of the NCAA Tournament regions, but North Carolina has proven they have the mettle to crawl out of this quarter of the bracket. Unfortunately, that’s probably as far as they will get.

PREDICTION: Final Four

2. Kentucky

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: PJ Washington

ANALYSIS: Kentucky’s team have been extremely forgettable of late. I’m sure they have an NBA diamond hidden in the rough, but I feel like Duke has stolen all of their freshman swagger.

PREDICTION: Sweet Sixteen

3. Houston

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Corey Davis Jr.

ANALYSIS: College basketball is in a better place when Houston is doing well. They play an exciting, high-octane brand of basketball that is a stark contrast to their AAC counterparts.

PREDICTION: Second Round

4. Kansas

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Dedric Lawson

ANALYSIS: It feels weird to see Kansas as a 4-seed, but this is emblematic of their season. The Jayhawks never got their act together, and that means an early exit before the second weekend.

PREDICTION: Second Round

5. Auburn

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Jared Harper

ANALYSIS: The Auburn Tigers are on a roll heading into the NCAA Tournament. Bruce Pearl’s team has won eight straight games and shoots the 3-ball at an astounding clip. Don’t be surprised to see the Tigers in the Sweet Sixteen.

PREDICTION: Sweet Sixteen

6. Iowa State

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Marial Shayok

ANALYSIS: My new-found hatred for Iowa has carried on to Iowa State. Let’s get rid of them both. Fire the entire state into the sun.

PREDICTION: First Round

7. Wofford

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Fletcher Magee

ANALYSIS: Wofford is just fun to say. Try it. Wofford. WOFFORD. That’s good stuff.

PREDICTION: Second Round

8. Utah State

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Sam Merrill

ANALYSIS: The lone representative from basketball-crazy (and normal crazy) Utah, the Aggies will have a tough task ahead of them. Hopefully none of their fans will yell at Russell Westbrook when they lose.

PREDICTION: First Round

9. Washington

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Jaylen Nowell

ANALYSIS: The Huskies have disappointed every time they’ve been on my TV, but I gotta think there must be a reason they were ranked this season. Let’s hope that Washington shows up in the first round.

PREDICTION: Second Round

10. Seton Hall

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Myles Powell

ANALYSIS: The Pirates leveraged a strong Big East Tournament run into a decent seed in the NCAA Tournament. Wofford is the 7-seed you’d want to draw, but I still don’t buy Seton Hall as a team that can make noise this season.

PREDICTION: First Round

11. Ohio State

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Kaleb Wesson

ANALYSIS: I am probably higher on Ohio State than anybody else in the country, and I think most of that stems from them beating Creighton this fall. I want to believe that was a meaningful loss.

PREDICTION: Elite Eight

12. New Mexico State

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Terrell Brown

ANALYSIS: It’s a little odd to have no 12-5 upsets, but I just think the 5-seeds are too strong this season. New Mexico State is a balanced team, but that just isn’t enough.

PREDICTION: First Round

13. Northeastern

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Jordan Roland

ANALYSIS: If I’m being honest, I skipped over Northeastern in my first draft of this blog post. Nothing of value would have been lost.

PREDICTION: First Round

14. Georgia State

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Malik Benlevi

ANALYSIS: RJ Hunter is not walking through that door, probably because he plays for the Maine Red Claws right now. Even if he does walk through said door, he’s no longer eligible to play.

PREDICTION: First Round

15. Abiline Christian

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Jaren Lewis

ANALYSIS: The Wildcats made the NCAA Tournament in only their third year of eligibility. I’d be impressed, if I wasn’t so tired.

PREDICTION: First Round

16. Iona

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: E.J. Crawford

ANALYSIS: Iona looks too much like Iowa. I don’t want anything to do with them.

PREDICTION: First Round

West Region

1. Gonzaga

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Brandon Clarke

ANALYSIS: Until Gonzaga can actually win a national title, the perception of them will be of a paper tiger. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is their year.

PREDICTION: Second Round

2. Michigan

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Jon Teske

ANALYSIS: Last year’s National Runner-Up was even better during the course of this season. Things got rockier in conference play, but Michigan has the tools to make it into the second weekend.

PREDICTION: Sweet Sixteen

3. Texas Tech

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Jarrett Culver

ANALYSIS: The Red Raiders play stifling defense, forcing their opponents into a slow, half-court style. It’s not pretty, but it’s effective. Like Steve Buscemi.

PREDICTION: Final Four

4. Florida State

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Terance Mann

ANALYSIS: Florida State has a ton of long athletes who can shut down opponents. They are the perfect prototype for football schools looking to find a basketball identity.

PREDICTION: Elite Eight

5. Marquette

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Markus Howard

ANALYSIS: Markus Howard is one of my favorite players in the country to watch. The problem is I don’t know how Marquette will perform when they run into a long, athletic team like Florida State.

PREDICTION: Second Round

6. Buffalo

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: C.J. Massinburg

ANALYSIS: C.J. Massinburg is a problem for anyone who underestimates the Bulls. He has the ability to go off for 40 points if that’s what his team needs to win.

PREDICTION: Second Round

7. Nevada

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Caleb Martin

ANALYSIS: Caleb Martin and his twin brother Cody are hoping a little twin magic will help them get to the second weekend again this year. Spoiler alert: it won’t.

PREDICTION: Second Round

8. Syracuse

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Tyus Battle

ANALYSIS: It wouldn’t be Syracuse basketball without some controversy before the NCAA Tournament. With starting point guard Frank Howard suspended, it’s up to Tyus Battle to carry the Orange deep into the tournament.

PREDICTION: Sweet Sixteen

9. Baylor

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Jared Butler

ANALYSIS: Does anyone like Baylor? What an awful institution.

PREDICTION: First Round

10. Florida

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Kevarrius Hayes

ANALYSIS: Florida was inconsistent all season, but is capable of playing with anyone. Well, almost anyone. Not Nevada.

PREDICTION: First Round

11. Arizona State

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Zylan Cheatham

ANALYSIS: No.

PREDICTION: First Round

12. Murray State

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Ja Morant

ANALYSIS: Morant will likely be the second pick in this year’s NBA Draft, where Phoenix will waste his talent. I can’t wait.

PREDICTION: First Round

13. Vermont

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Anthony Lamb

ANALYSIS: The America East champions dominated in their conference tournament, but the NCAA Tournament is an entirely different beast.

PREDICTION: First Round

14. Northern Kentucky

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Drew McDonald

ANALYSIS: Are there a lot of Norse people in northern Kentucky? Will someone explain this mascot tom me please?

PREDICTION: First Round

15. Montana

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Ahmaad Rorie

ANALYSIS: The Grizzlies are good, but sooner or later, it’s Copenhagen.

PREDICTION: First Round

16. Fairleigh Dickinson

FUN BASKETBALL MAN: Darnell Edge

ANALYSIS: I’m going to bed now.

PREDICTION: First Round

bracket

I’m moving back in with my parents, and that’s a good thing

house

I’m writing this because I’m resigned to the fact that I won’t find a new roommate by the end of the month.

While this apartment was a good deal for about a year and a half, a rent increase has made it difficult to justify living here even if I found someone else.

So I’ve talked to the landlords, called the cable company, and have mentally prepared myself for the eventual move.

So where do I go from here?

Home. 5 Bower Lane. Old Orchard Beach. Same as it ever was.

I took that picture at the top of this post off Google Earth.

It’s from September 2011, a time when the roof was in desperate need of a power-washing.

On the far left, you can see my first car, a 1993 Nissan Maxima.

Seated on the porch is Gabby, a delightfully plump pup, and near the bottom-right, you can see a tuft a fur from Avalanche’s tail.

It’s a place I’ve known for 26 years, and a place I will be happy to return to.

I don’t say that because it’s financially practical, and I’ll be able to pay off my student loans.

I am grateful to return home because it’s probably the last time I’ll ever get to live there.

My parents have bought a plot of land near the high school, and have decided to build a brand new house.

I go back and forth on just how upset I am about that, but I ultimately know that it’s their life, and they’re allowed to make those kinds of decisions.

Just like how I chose to go school to be a journalist, instead of becoming an engineer who could afford to buy my childhood home from my parents.

I’ll save most of my good nostalgic #content for whenever the big move finally happens, but I just wanted to write something about it tonight, maybe as a way of channeling what I was feeling all day.

Anyway, I guess the point I’m trying to make is that I’m moving back home, and I’m going to try to enjoy every second of it.

•$600• Roommate wanted for ice cream castle on Route 1 in Saco

20180831_131452

  • This is an apartment, not the whole castle
  • Washer/dryer in the unit, with an extra dryer for fun
  • No smoking inside, it’s the only rule
  • A fine selection of free parking spaces
  • Unnecessary jacuzzi tub
  • You get your own room!

I’m seeking a roommate for a two-bedroom apartment above Martel’s Ice Cream on Route 1 in Saco.

The $600 a month rent covers all utilities except internet/cable, but we’re still talking less than $700 a month here.

Your room is right near the front door, in case you need to escape from a ghost or something.

The room has a scenic view of Splashtown, U.S.A.

I’m pretty sure it has hardwood floors, but I’m not certain because Andy says I’m not allowed in there.

The bedroom has it’s own door to a shared bathroom, featuring both the world’s largest tub and smallest shower.

I work the night shift, so you probably won’t see me much, but I’ll try to keep the noise down when I come home.

Move-in date would be in October.

An unhelpful guide to the 2018 World Cup

FIFA World Cup Trophy

It’s been four long years, but now it’s finally time for most Americans to pretend to be casual soccer fans again.

Unfortunately for them (and the executives at FOX) the United States failed to qualify for the World Cup this year.

Don’t fret, though! I’ve decided to put together a guide to help you pick a new favorite team to tell other people you’re rooting for.

The first match kicks off Thursday at 11:00 a.m. EST.

Group A

1. Uruguay

Argentina, Chile, World Cup qualifiers, FIFA, 2018 FIFA World Cup

KNOWN FOR: Being in South America

FUN SOCCER MAN: Luis Suarez

PREDICTION: Uruguay is an incredibly talented squad with some of the best forwards on the planet. They’re led by Edinson Cavani and the always controversial (and sometimes racist) Luis Suarez. They will go as far as Suarez can take them before biting someone.

2. Egypt

KNOWN FOR: Pyramids, Mummies

FUN SOCCER MAN: Mohamed Salah

PREDICTION: Mo Salah spent this past season being one of the best players in the world and leading Liverpool to an appearance in the UEFA Champions League Final. Unfortunately, he suffered a separated shoulder in that match after Sergio Ramos pulled his arm out of its socket. If Salah is healthy, Egypt can get out of the group.

3. Russia

KNOWN FOR: Meddling in U.S. elections

FUN SOCCER MAN: Vladimir Putin

PREDICTION: Russia won’t make it out of the group, but it will be fun to watch how the host nation behaves while the eyes of the world are on them. The United States won’t be paying attention, but hey, maybe some of our friends will let us know what’s going on.

4. Saudi Arabia

KNOWN FOR: Oil money, Not letting women do things

FUN SOCCER MAN: Mohammad Al-Sahlawi

PREDICTION: Saudi Arabia is not very good at soccer. They will not win a match.

Group B

1. Morocco

Morocco’s Atlas Lions’ Defense Best in Africa: FIFA

KNOWN FOR: Being that section of Epcot with all of the Aladdin stuff

FUN SOCCER MAN: Medhi Benatia

PREDICTION: The expert consensus is that Group B is the easiest one to predict. Spain and Portugal are supposed to easily run through this group. I reject this notion, and look for their neighbor, Morocco, to shock the world.

2. Portugal

KNOWN FOR: Being confused with Spain

FUN SOCCER MAN: Cristiano Ronaldo

PREDICTION: Look at Ronaldo. He’s so handsome. How can someone like that even exist? I’m in awe.

3. Spain

Spain celebrate winning South Africa 2010

KNOWN FOR: Siestas, Not participating in World Wars

FUN SOCCER MAN: Sergio Ramos

PREDICTION: One of the best parts of any international competition is watching a world power completely shit its pants. Here’s hoping Spain can follow up their 2014 performance with another flame out. They’re boring, and Ramos might be the tournament’s biggest villain.

4. Iran

Image: Iran soccer team

KNOWN FOR: Being an oppressive theocracy

FUN SOCCER MAN: Sardar Azmoun

PREDICTION: Iran’s star player, Azmoun, plays his club soccer in Russia, and kind looks like if Elvis were a Beatle. Unfortunately for Iran, the team will not be playing in Nikes this tournament because of U.S. sanctions.

Group C

1. France

France 1998: Home glory

KNOWN FOR: Freedom Fries

FUN SOCCER MAN: Antoine Griezmann

PREDICTION: France has some of the best players in the world, and will for the next couple World Cups. I had serious trouble picking just one fun soccer man, with the likes of Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappé also on the squad. This team will be one of the favorites.

2. Denmark

Eriksen's hat-trick took his World Cup qualifying tally to 11 goals.

KNOWN FOR: The Little Mermaid

FUN SOCCER MAN: Christian Eriksen

PREDICTION: I was a little disappointed to learn that there are no actual Great Danes on Denmark’s roster. That could hurt them, but I think they will be alright as long as Christian Eriksen is a very good boy.

3. Peru

Peru team arrives in Russia to play 1st World Cup in 36 years

KNOWN FOR: Emperor Kuzco

FUN SOCCER MAN: Paolo Guerrero

PREDICTION: Peru made the World Cup for the first time in 36 years. They be knocked out in far less time.

4. Australia

KNOW FOR: Shrimp on the barbie

FUN SOCCER MAN: Tim Cahill

PREDICTION: Tim Cahill is 38 years old, and doesn’t even play on a top-flight team anymore. That should tell you everything you need to know about Australia’s chances.

Group D

1. Nigeria

KNOWN FOR: E-mail scams

FUN SOCCER MAN: John Obi Mikel

PREDICTION: Look at those kits. Nigeria might just win the whole thing in those bad boys. I told Joe to buy me one while he’s in Africa.

2. Iceland

icleand, iceland football, fifa world cup

KNOWN FOR: Synchronized clapping

FUN SOCCER MAN: Gylfi Sigurðsson

PREDICTION: The Icelandic roster is just a minefield of names I can’t pronounce. Luckily, they make up for that with a neat little slow clap that’s accessible for anyone, regardless of rhythm.

3. Argentina

argentina.jpg

KNOWN FOR: Being a safe haven for Nazis

FUN SOCCER MAN: Lionel Messi

PREDICTION: As much as I would revel in Spain’s failure, the story of Argentina is a little more depressing. Lionel Messi, one of the greatest players the sport has ever seen, has been unfairly painted as a failure on the world stage. He even contemplated hanging up the boots before this tournament. I don’t feel good about it, but I see an early exit.

4. Croatia

KNOWN FOR: Looking like picnic tables

FUN SOCCER MAN: Luka Modrić

PREDICTION: It seems like Croatia has been a dark horse for about a decade, but their window might finally be closing. They have world-class talent, but Group D might be too strong.

Group E

1. Brazil

KNOWN FOR: Carnival, Favelas

FUN SOCCER MAN: Neymar

PREDICTION: It will surprise no one that Brazil is one of the favorites in the World Cup. They will be looking to overcome the devastating 7-1 defeat at home in 2014. I think they will be just fine.

2. Costa Rica

Costa Rica World Cup squad announced

KNOWN FOR: Being that place everyone you know has taken a vacation to

FUN SOCCER MAN: Keylor Navas

PREDICTION: Costa Rica was a fun surprise in 2014, and I think they can keep that momentum going. Plus, I can always respect a team whose best player is the goalkeeper.

3. Switzerland

Image result for switzerland world cup

KNOWN FOR: Chocolate, Nazi gold

FUN SOCCER MAN: Xherdan Shaqiri

PREDICTION: A lot of Switzerland’s hopes rest on the shoulders of Xherdan Shaqiri. He is more than a capable player, but he might not be enough to overcome the rest of the group.

4. Serbia

KNOWN FOR: Basketball

FUN SOCCER MAN: Sergej Milinković-Savić

PREDICTION: I know almost nothing about Serbia. I’m sure it is a lovely place.

GROUP F

1. Germany

KNOWN FOR: That time they tried to take over the world

FUN SOCCER MAN: Mesut Özil

PREDICTION: The defending champions were rewarded with the most entertaining group in the World Cup. All four teams can score almost at will. Not that Germany will have any trouble, they are primed and ready to win the whole thing.

2. Sweden

Sweden’s Jakob Johansson celebrates scoring the only goal of their FIFA World Cup qualifier vs Italy with team mates.

KNOWN FOR: Tall blondes, House music

FUN SOCCER MAN: Emil Forsberg

PREDICTION: Sweden will be participating in the World Cup without the man who has become synonymous with soccer in the country. Luckily for the Swedes, our lord and savior Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be is Russia to watch them play. They will advance out of the group if they can channel his divine inspiration.

3. South Korea

South Korea World Cup 2014 squad

KNOWN FOR: Being the good Korea

FUN SOCCER MAN: Son Heung-min

PREDICTION: Son Heung-min is a legitimate superstar, and one of the reasons I like tuning in to Tottenham Hotspur matches. Unfortunately, the rest of South Korea’s roster doesn’t quite seem up to snuff.

4. Mexico

KNOWN FOR: Drug cartels

FUN SOCCER MAN: Héctor Herrera

PREDICTION: Mexico has a reputation as one of the world’s premier soccer nations, but their World Cup results of late have not met expectations. The squad Mexico is fielding now doesn’t have the kind of awe-inspiring star power to suggest they are any kind of threat in 2018.

Group G

1. England

Image result for world cup england

KNOWN FOR: Bad teeth, Stilted emotions

FUN SOCCER MAN: Harry Kane

PREDICTION: Perennial disappointment England is trying to regain the form that won them a World Cup in 1966. This is the best roster they’ve had in a while, with Harry Kane coming into the tournament in stellar form. And, why not, I’ll say they knock out Brazil in penalties.

2. Belgium

Image result for world cup belgium

KNOWN FOR: Bruges

FUN SOCCER MAN: Eden Hazard

PREDICTION: This may be Belgium’s last chance to be this good, so it will be paramount that they take advantage of it. Eden Hazard and absolute unit Romelu Lukaku form a formidable striker tandem. It will be fun to watch them go to work.

3. PANAMA

Image result for world cup panama

KNOWN FOR: A canal

FUN SOCCER MAN: Román Torres

PREDICTION: A man, a plan, a cat, a ham, a yak, a yam, a hat, a canal – Panama!

4. Tunisia

Image result for world cup tunisia

KNOWN FOR: Making me Google Tunisia

FUN SOCCER MAN: Wahbi Khazri

PREDICTION: After losing Youssef Msakni to a knee injury, Tunisia is going to have to dig deep to not lose every game they play in Russia. I’d wish them luck, but it won’t help.

Group H

1. Colombia

Image result for world cup colombia

KNOWN FOR: Cocaine

FUN SOCCER MAN: James Rodríguez

PREDICTION: James Rodríguez was the breakout star of the 2014 World Cup, parlaying that success into contracts with Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Now, James returns to the world stage, ready to lead Colombia to first in their group.

2. Senegal

Image result for world cup senegal

KNOWN FOR: Al Roker’s ancestral roots

FUN SOCCER MAN: Sadio Mané

PREDICTION: Sadio Mane is coming off his best season as a part of Liverpool’s three-pronged attack. With his big game experience, Senegal should be one of four African nations to make it out of the group stage.

3. Japan

Image result for world cup japan

KNOWN FOR: Daisuke Matsuzaka

FUN SOCCER MAN: Keisuke Honda

PREDICTION: Besides Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa, this team does nothing for me. I don’t expect Japan to make it out of the group stage.

4. Poland

Image result for world cup poland

KNOWN FOR: Jokes about Poland

FUN SOCCER MAN: Robert Lewandowski

PREDICTION: Simply put, Robert Lewandowski has to carry his countrymen through the World Cup. The only question left is, “How many goals can he score?”

The Bracket

world cup bracket

1. Germany

2. Uruguay

3. England

The XFL is back, but what is it?

xfl

“It’s football, reimagined.”

Professional wrestling promoter and very stable genius Vince McMahon announced today that he planned on bringing the XFL back in 2020.

For anyone unfamiliar, the original XFL was a spring football league that lasted one season in 2001.

Riding a wave of popularity from the WWF’s Attitude Era, McMahon and NBC thought they could bring that same attitude to football.

The XFL was promoted as a more violent and in-your-face brand of football.

For the most part, it was bad. Like, Tommy-Maddox-is-your-best-player bad.

Aside from the quality of football, there were some positives. The XFL popularized the skycam, and contributed to the legend of Rod Smart.

So now Vince, in his infinite wisdom, has decided to bring back the XFL. But will this league bring back the same attitude as it’s predecessor?

No, as McMahon explains in this uninformative conference call.

I recommend you take the time to watch the whole thing, especially so you can hear McMahon call Darren Rovell, “Dan.”

The gist of this announcement seems to point towards the XFL appealing to the fed-up, #MAGA crowd.

  • Players will be required to stand for the National Anthem, in an effort to de-politicize football.
  • Players with a criminal record will not be signed.
  • Rules will be simpler, which until we know what that means, doesn’t mean much. The informative XFL rap suggests there will be less penalties.
  • Games will be quicker, which is genuinely appealing. McMahon says he wants to shoot for 2-hour games and eliminate halftime.

Much like the original XFL, I think this league will bring some interesting innovation to the sport, but some of the language scares me.

I don’t necessarily think you need to be “fed-up” with the NFL to enjoy a new and different league. You won’t find me complaining about having more sports to watch.

So until we know more, I’m not entirely sure what to make of the XFL.

2020 can’t come soon enough.

Nuance is hard, and we’re not interested

kneel

This is another late-to-the-party thinkpiece about why your Facebook News Feed has been extra awful lately. If you’re not into that, I thank you for your click and wish you the best with the rest of your life.

For the rest of you, I think you know what I’m talking about.

Everyone you’ve ever met has an opinion about the recent uptick in NFL players protesting during the national anthem, and none of them are any good.

Half of of my feed thinks systemic racism is the bee’s knees, and the other half acts like Francis Scott Key has no bars.

What got lost somewhere between our TVs and Facebook, though was what this protest originally started as.

In 2014, there were a number of high-profile deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of law enforcement. It wasn’t anything new in this country, but social media made the news travel faster and further than ever before.

In the subsequent years, any killings of citizens by civil servants have been put under a microscope, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Responses to these deaths have ranged from peaceful protests and the rise of groups like #BlackLivesMatter, to riots and retaliatory killings of police officers.

Before our nation could properly address the issue at hand, camps began to form. Suddenly, the narrative was that you were either pro-black people not getting shot or pro-police safety.

As you can probably tell, this was less than constructive. In fact, I’d argue that the mutual fear shared between law enforcement and black men in this country is what put us in this mess to begin with.

And we really haven’t learned. Enter Colin Kaepernick.

kaep

Kaepernick was (is? I’m not sure at this point) a dynamic young quarterback more than capable of holding a roster spot in the NFL. Now he doesn’t have a job.

Kaepernick began last season by taking a knee during the national anthem as a way to protest the treatment of African Americans and other minorities in this country.

Again, this act wasn’t unprecedented.

There’s a clear history of athletes making statements during the anthem.

It’s important to remember that none of these protests are as offensive as Carl Lewis actually trying to sing.

Derrick Coleman really makes that video something special.

Back to Kaepernick motives, it’s important to understand that they’re not very controversial. “Stop killing black people” is only a hot take if you also enjoy casual cross-burnings in your spare time.

Unfortunately, the narrative was twisted again. Because NFL players were protesting during a ceremony that has become increasingly intertwined with the American military, those who wanted to stifle their message made it about the troops.

And you’ve got to support the troops.

So that’s why all of your casual acquaintances from high school are fighting so passionately on Facebook right now. What should have been a discussion about race in this country has turned into a debate about whether we should care more about the troops or minorities.

If you’re looking for my honest opinion on this matter, I think we need to stop wrapping ourselves in the flag every time the country is criticized.

I think the United States is the greatest country in the world. I have more opportunity here than I would anywhere else, but it doesn’t mean this place is infallible.

If enough people can identify a problem, it costs nothing to explore possible solutions, even if you don’t think the problem exists. Once a situation is fully delved into, then you can take actions toward self improvement.

But that’s hard. It’s much easier to entrench yourself in a camp and argue online.

I only ask that you try it, just this once, before you hit that publish button.