I recently returned home from 2 weeks in the good ol' United Kingdom (business, not pleasure). This was two weeks without anything in the way of significant North American sports happenings coming my way save for some text pasted into email attachments sent to me by friends. My ID couldn't get me out of our company's firewall in our UK offices, and I did not see fit to cause a stir about accessing it for only 2 weeks.

Anyway, I had not posted it seems in months, and really have not had many opportunities to read the board in depth in a while. Lotsa new faces, many seem to be quite nice, and lotsa old arguments/complaints, which are not so nice. I had some opinions on some of the goings ons, but instead thought I'd fill some of y'all in on what I learned about in England and also some sad news on my homefront as well.

During this trip, and courtesy of my new boss (he's my boss's boss, but the middle guy is retiring), I got to see my first real European soccer (football) game. I preface everything else by saying that I definitely fell into the stereotypical camp of the guy who had little use for the sport, and, not coincidentally, little understanding of it as well. However, my new boss is a season ticket holder for a team in the Championship League (Wigan). That is the league just below the Premiership, for which the more famous teams such as Manchester United, etc, play.

Anyway, he is as enthusiastic and ritualistic about his sport as I am about the Buckeyes basketball and football teams and the Reds, so I had to give it a try when he offered. It was a miserable, dreary rainy cold typical day in England - BUT I had a fantastic time! First of all it was so very interesting to draw the many apparent parallels to how we as fans approach some of our big sporting events. For comparison purposes, this game had 17K in attendance. But I really enjoyed the action, almost every second of it, even though the final score was (you probably guessed it or came close) 1-0, my boss's team. I just developed a total appreciation for the sport and the fans there. I will be using some broad generalizations here, but I'd say if I may estimate that maybe 60% of the "fans" in attendance at a NA sporting event know and really care enough about what is going on, then that number is 95% for European football. It was really a unique experience, with all the fans' chants and songs.

Now I am still and always will be a baseball, basketball, and football guy because it is what I was raised on and I'm old now (39 today!), but it definitely changed my perception of the sport. That and I know soccer is going to be my 3-yr-old daughter's 1st exposure to organized sport (which I encourage 100% no matter what the sport would be), so I figured her old man better get on the ball!

Unfortunately, after a very joyous reunion with my wife and daughter after being gone so long, we were all greatly saddened by some unexpectedly horrible news - we had to put our beloved golden retriever Sunny to sleep. She was only 9 and in apparently fine health (I guess a tumor on her spleen caused it to burst last Wed). We were/are quite broken hearted, but are getting it together and now looking into Golden Retriever rescue programs to help a guy or gal in need of an extremely loving and fun home. We believe our daughter right now to be a bit too young to do properly with a pup, so will probably wait a year or 2 for that and then add a little one to the mix along with whatever adult rescue golden we match up well with.