Team Handball News Collegiate Top 5 Poll (March, 17, 2018)

The latest collegiate poll is out and there’s been some slight shuffling in the rankings.  Army, despite having only played two matches (both losses to the DC Diplomats and Boston) since the last poll is still the top team in the county.

Virginia, however, has impressed enough voters to move ahead of Air Force for the 2nd place ranking.  They placed 4th in February at the Carolina Blue Cup, and have been playing competitively in the Northeast Team Handball League.  Meanwhile Air Force has not played a match since the last poll.

Illinois State maintained their 4th place position.  They’ve added 2 wins in the Windy City Series and placed 3rd at the Arnold Classic in Columbus, OH.  Moving into a tie for 5th place were Army’s 2nd team and North Carolina.  The Army 2nd team had a good showing at the Carolina Blue Cup where they finished 5th just behind 2nd ranked Virginia.  North Carolina’s rise to 5th is probably related to several close matches at the Carolina Blue Cup, including a 20-17 loss to tourney winner NYAC.

Ohio State dropped out of the poll, but this may be due to some voters not having the results for the Arnold Classic.  Ohio State finished 2nd in the tourney and beat 4th ranked Illinois State 21-19

2018 Pan American Beach Championships Schedule and Breakdown of USA Opponents

The 2018 Pan American Beach Championships start tomorrow in Oceanside, California.  Eight Men’s and Women’s teams will be competing and this event will also serve as qualification for the 2018 Beach Handball World Championships to be held in Kazan, Russia in July,

Schedule: Link
Note: Game times are Local Pacific Time
Thurs, Fri, Sat: CET-9 Hours
Sunday: CET-8 Hours (Daylight Savings Time Starts)

The format for both the Men’s and Women’s Tournaments will consist of group play followed by a knockout tourney.  All teams will advance to the knockout tourney, so group play will essentially be all about seeding for the knockout tourney.  And, as 4 slots will be awarded for the World Championships every team participating will have an opportunity to qualify for the World Championships in their quarterfinal match on Saturday Morning.

Breaking down the schedule further, each team will play a group match in 3 consecutive sessions (Thursday afternoon, Friday morning and Friday afternoon).   On Saturday morning the all important quarter finals will be played.  Winners and losers will then play in their respective semifinals on Saturday afternoon.  Final placing matchings will then take place on Sunday.

USA Men’s Bracket and Possible QF Opponents

The USA Men are grouped with Argentina, Mexico and Puerto Rico.  On paper, the U.S Men should win this group.  They are, after all the defending Pan American Champions.  Mexico and Puerto Rico did not participate in the 2016 Championships and Argentina placed 4th.  They should cruise to wins over Mexico and Puerto Rico and then face Argentina on Friday night for first place in the group.  Should that come to pass their likely QF foe will be either Trinidad & Tobago or Paraguay, with debutantes Trinidad & Tobago likely being the easier foe.

USA Women’s Bracket and Possible QF Opponents

The USA Women are grouped with Brazil, Argentina and Chile.  This group is no “walk in the park” for the U.S. as Brazil is one of the top teams in the world and Argentina is not far behind.  Indeed, just last summer these two teams played in the Final of the Beach Handball Tourney at the World Games.  In a Beach Handball match anything can happen, but the inexperienced U.S. Women will be hard pressed to knock off those two foes right out of the gate.  In all likelihood, the U.S. Women will meet Chile on Friday night for 3rd place in the Group.  Chile is also relatively new to the sport so one could anticipate this match being a tight one.  The loser would likely face a relatively strong Uruguay side in the QF while the winner would likely face Paraguay, a solid, but beatable team for a ticket to the World Championships


Live streaming of matches should be available on the U.S. site at this link:  USATH Live

538 Website Uses Google Trends Data to Assess Curling Interest, So I Do the Same for Handball

Google Trends data on searches for “handball” in the U.S. since 2004.

One of my favorite websites, recently posted an article that immediately got my attention:

America Loves Curling, Until it Forgets about it for Four Years:  Link

It got my attention, because I’d just written a commentary which highlighted the exact same problem for team handball.  In the 538 article, the author, Neil Payne used Google Trends data to quantify just how much America forgets curling.  Google Trends is a tool in which you can plug in different search terms and get graphs as to how much search traffic that term gets comparatively over time.  No big surprise: Curling sees a massive spike in interest every February of an Olympics year.  And, a small surprise:  Curling’s interest spike is bigger than any other winter Olympic sport.  This was measured as a comparison of Google searches in Olympic months vs non-Olympic months.

It’s an interesting use of Google data so, if you know me, I had to do some of the same analysis for handball.  (And, oh what an interesting rabbit hole it is.)

First off, I quickly discovered the semantical mine field the sport’s name has in the U.S.  Another form of handball similar to racquetball is more popular in the U.S., but Google doesn’t seem to be capable of fully distinguishing between the two.  It’s possible to enter several different terms into the Google Trends engine:

  • Handball (search term)
  • Team Handball (search term)
  • Handball (sport)
  • American Handball (sport)

Further, you can compare the relative results of each term as well as results for individual countries or world-wide data.

For starters, I looked at U.S. internet searches for “handball” since 2004.

At first glance, it followed what I expected with sharp spikes in August of Olympic years.  But, then I noticed a significant spike in November of 2009 followed by a slight bulge in the data for the following months.  At first, I thought it might be some great article on handball in the mainstream press, but then it dawned on me:  It was my old friend Thierry Henry and his infamous “hand of frog” handball in a World Cup Qualification match vs Ireland.

This bulge appears in both the “handball” and “handball (sport)” search suggesting that Google can’t tell the difference between a search for the sport of handball vs a search for a soccer related handball.  Further, if one does a comparison of searches for “Handball (sport)” vs “American Handball (sport)” one will see handball kicking American handball’s butt.

As much as I would love for this to be an accurate comparison of the two sports popularity, there’s little to suggest that it has any basis in reality.  We’re making some serious inroads, but such a disparity just can’t be accurate.  For sure, I could see handball beating wall handball in searches, but not by a factor of 100 to 1.  No, the conclusion should be that Google Trend data for “handball” in the U.S. ends up being an aggregate of handball, wall handball and soccer handballs.  What does that mean then?  Well, it means that the Olympic spikes for handball searches in the U.S., big as they are, are actually even bigger than what the data shows.  That, the baseline hovering around 10 would probably be closer to 2 or 3 if Google could figure a way to take out wall handball and soccer handballs from its data.  The 538 article highlights that Curling has the biggest spike of winter sports with a relative spike of 80 when compared to non Olympic months.  For handball the data shows a gain of only around 60, but it’s probably at least 80, if not more for the reasons described.

Handball vs Other Sports

The 538 article also compares Curling to several other winter sports.  I did several comparison of handball vs other sports and here are a few charts.

Here’s handball compared to 2 other “lesser known” Olympic Team Sports.  Both Water Polo and Field Hockey see similar jumps and both are more well known in the U.S.  Field Hockey, since it’s an NCAA Women’s sport and a more commonly played high school sport has a higher baseline with more peaks and valleys.  You can do your own comparisons, but be forewarned if you put a popular sport like basketball or volleyball into the mix, the handball line will almost entirely morph into the zero line.

I decided to make myself feel a bit better about handball by seeing how well it would do against arguably the most obscure Olympic Sport, Modern Pentathlon.  And, handball wins that battle, but again we’d probably wouldn’t win by as much without wall handball and soccer handballs padding our numbers.

Finally, what about a Handball vs Curling comparison?

What does this comparison tell us with the gigantic Curling Winter Olympic spikes and our tiny little Handball Summer Olympic spikes?  Well, it shows how you much curling benefits from being in the Winter Olympics where there are fewer sports to compete against.  Seriously, what other explanation could there possibly be for handball losing to curling so soundly?  It really makes you wonder how much handball would “blow up” if it was staged during the Winter Olympics instead of the Summer Olympics.  With the NHL players gone handball might even have gotten better ratings than the hockey competition.  And, it would be so easy to make happen.  A whole month of professional club handball is already sacrificed every year (Men- December and Women- January) so the world’s best players would be readily available.  Think the Curling venue was a happening place with the South Korean Women playing for Gold.  Imagine what the crowd would have been like for handball?  We’ve highlighted the potential of a summer/winter switch before.

2010: Link

2012: Link

But, while it would make so much sense don’t expect the IOC to give up its snow and ice requirement for Winter Olympic sports any time soon.  There will be Nigerian bob sledding teams before that ever happens.

Who Should be on the USA Team Handball Board of Directors (Part 2):  A Gospel Spreader

Who should be on the USA Team Handball Board?: A Gospel Spreader: How about a media personality that’s already fallen in love with the sport? For consideration: Bill Simmons, Scott Van Pelt and Stefan Fatsis

In the coming year as many as 7 new directors will be elected/selected to serve on the USA Team Handball Board of Directors.  This series of commentaries will highlight some traits, skills and backgrounds that might be a good fit.  And, what the heck, even identify a few candidates by name.  Part One focused on candidates with wealth.  This part focuses on finding a Board Member who can help spread the good word.

The Underlying Problem to the Money Problem

In Part One of this series I stated matter of factly that USA Team Handball’s #1 problem was a lack of revenue.  While this is true statement it’s important to step back and ask why is there such a lack of revenue?  That seemingly simple question can be answered in a lot of different ways:

  • Because we have a small membership base.
  • Because we don’t have any major sponsors.
  • Because we have very limited revenue streams.
  • Because the USOC changed their grand funding philosophy towards medal winning sports.

All of those reasons for a lack of revenue are true, but I would argue that there is an underlying root problem that, if successfully addressed, will go a long way towards solving the revenue problem.

That root problem:  The Lack of Awareness; As in far too few people in the U.S. are even aware of the sport of handball.

I’ve addressed this problem in several commentaries.  These two commentaries from 2012 summarize the problem in detail:

  • Why weren’t the U.S. national teams at the London Olympics (Part 5): A lack of awareness and marketing: One in a million: The 312 real fans of team handball in the U.S.:  Link
  • Why weren’t the U.S. national teams at the London Olympics (Part 6): A lack of awareness and marketing:  The Catch-22 TV paradox:  Link

The cliff notes version:  Only about 5% of the American population even know the sport of handball exists and the lack of regular TV broadcasts really inhibits the likelihood of more Americans discovering the sport and becoming fans and players of it.

Solve the Awareness Problem and Revenue will Follow

If USA Team Handball were to successfully address this “lack of awareness” problem increases in revenue would undoubtedly follow.  This is because there would be more fans of the sport, making sponsorship more than just charitable giving.  This is because there would be more Federation members and players contributing to the membership revenue stream.  More players, in turn, would, over time, improve the player pool and the quality of our national teams.  Leading in turn to better performance on the court and more support from the USOC.  And, eventually to another revenue stream, networks paying for U.S. National Team matches.

We can debate just how much revenue will follow.  And, we can debate how long it will take for those trickle down dollars to follow.  But, there should be no debate as to the overarching interrelationship between the awareness and revenue problems.

The Awareness Problem will be Solved

I’ve written ad nauseam about this problem and the importance of regular TV broadcasts.  I’ve highlighted the problems with some of the networks that have acquired handball TV rights and the lack of emphasis U.S. Team Handball has placed on this issue.  I’ve looked longingly at how some other sports (soccer, rugby and lacrosse) have addressed and in some cases have solved their awareness problem.  And, I’ve looked at the changing landscape for sports distribution as digital web streaming continues to play an ever increasing role.  I’ve tried my best from my news/blog website to be a pied piper for this cause.

Overall, I’m convinced that it’s only a matter of time before this problem solves itself.  The sport of handball has a lot of challenges and handicaps, but its attractiveness as a televised sport is not one of them.  Handball is not very likely to become a top tier sport in the U.S., but it’s going to have a significant niche in the U.S. sports market.  And, due the wealth and overall population (326 million) of the U.S. such a niche is nothing to sneeze at.

It’s going to happen, sooner or later.  Even if absolutely nothing is done to address this problem it will solve itself.  But, why on Earth, shouldn’t we try to do some things to make it happen sooner?

Solving the Problem… Sooner

So, here’s where the Gospel Spreaders come in.  Every four years, like clockwork, handball in the U.S. gets a publicity blitz courtesy of the Olympics.  Print reporters, bloggers, TV and radio personalities get their first opportunity to see the sport and they fall in love with it.  They write odes to the sport, devote entire radio and TV segments to it and inevitably they discuss why the U.S. isn’t any good at such an American looking sport.  And, they come up with plenty of “interesting” conceptual ideas as to how the U.S. could become a world handball power. Their discussions while well intentioned and often entertaining are usually superficial and don’t fully appreciate how professional the sport is in Europe.  (Sorry, Lebron and a few other NBA players aren’t going to take handball gold at the Olympics anytime soon.)

And, like clockwork, after the Olympics are over the short lived interest in handball also recedes from consciousness until 4 years later there is another Olympics and the American handball cicadas come back out.

Here’s a greatest hits of some of the pieces that have been written over the years

  • 2008: Sean Gregory:  Hey, America, What About Handball?: Link
  • 2009: Stefan Fatsis: Team Handball Has It All, Except an American Interest: Link
  • 2012: Bill Simmons: The London Chronicles, Vol. 2: Handball! (Handball?) Handball!:  Link
  • 2016: Adam Kilgore: U.S. athletes run fast, jump high, throw hard — why are we so bad at handball?: Link

Nice stories, but, what if the U.S. could get one of those new handball converts to stay fully engaged with the sport?  To not disappear and instead use his media savvy to strategically keep the sport in the limelight.  To successfully lobby a quality TV network and/or some new media digital options to continue broadcasting handball with matches from Europe, U.S. National Team and domestic competitions.  In short, help craft and implement a plan to move the sport forward in the consciousness of the U.S.

While that board director would primarily address the awareness problem he/she would also get involved with other aspects of Federation operations.  And, while some might pooh-pooh the thought of having a media person on the board by virtue of their years of experiencing observing other sports they may very well have some insights and suggestions that are worth considering.

And, of course, that would be the pitch:  You’ve shown that you’re a big fan of this great sport.  We need your help in promoting this sport so that others will discover it.  We need your help in transforming it from an interesting curiosity every 4 years into a mainstream niche sport.  If we can do that our national teams can only get better.  Would you like to play a role in this turnaround?  Will you do this for your country?

Candidates for Gospel Spreader

Bill Simmons: For a number of reasons, Bill Simmons, is at the top of my list.  His article from London, as well as a short segment on his HBO TV show during the Rio Games, shows his affinity to the sport.  He’s also got a huge following with his BS Podcast, The Ringer website and 6M Twitter followers.  And, at the moment, he’s unaffiliated and essentially his own boss.  He could devote a few hours a week to handball and actually try to put some of his whimsical analysis on how “to make handball great again in America” into action.  Why one could even envision it as a thinking man’s documentary/reality TV show or podcast.  A real life laboratory taking place over several years and culminating with the 2016 Olympics

Scott Van Pelt:  During the 2012 Olympics, probably no media personality got more engaged with the sport of handball than ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt.  Entire nation wide radio segments devoted to Team Handball.  Absolutely unprecedented.  He even had somebody make him a USA Team Handball T-Shirt so he could wear it on the Radio/TV simulcast.   In the 6 years since his profile has increased and he’s arguably the most prominent sports anchor on America’s top sports network.  But, I haven’t heard a lick about handball from him since that brief shining moment 6 years ago.  Still, he’s someone to consider, especially if it could be coordinated with an IHF and/or EHF rights deal with ESPN

Stefan Fatsis:  No one has been more engaged in spreading the handball gospel than Stefan Fatsis, a reporter who has written for the Wall St Journal and the New York Times and has been an occasional correspondent on National Public Radio.  He wrote his first handball ode at the 2004 Olympics where he memorably asked French Coach Claude Onesta why the U.S. isn’t very good at handball. Onesta’s response: “As far as I am concerned, there are a lot of games at which the United States does not excel.”  He’s continued to write about the sport every time he gets a chance and routinely drops a handball reference on the weekly sports podcast, Hang Up and Listen.  Even did a podcast with me back in 2012 to get fired up for the Olympics.  In short, when it comes to handball he walks the walk and talks the talk.  His profile is nowhere near a Bill Simmons or a Scott Van Pelt, but maybe he’d try harder because he’d be more committed.

Others?:  I’m sure there’s no shortage of would be media personalities that could be considered.  Feel free to chime in with additional suggestions on the Team Handball News Facebook or Twitter pages.

Who Should be on the USA Team Handball Board of Directors (Part 1):  Billionaires and Millionaires

Who should be on the USA Team Handball Board?: How about this 1978 Empire State Games bronze medalist, player/coach, Bob Rich?

In the coming year as many as 7 new directors will be elected/selected to serve on the USA Team Handball Board of Directors.  This series of commentaries will highlight some traits, skills and backgrounds that might be a good fit.  And, what the heck, even identify a few candidates by name.  This first part will focus on candidates with the ability to contribute financial support and the expertise that comes along with it.

The Need

Anybody who follows team handball in the U.S. knows that the number one challenge the sport faces in this country is a distinct lack of revenue.  How big a need is it?  Consider this.  The most recent Form 990 tax disclosure form for USA Team Handball lists total yearly revenue as $347,825.  That’s not anywhere near the revenue that’s needed to run a sports federation in the U.S.  It’s a shoestring of a shoestring operation and it means that the U.S. can’t even pay to send its national teams to international competition let alone fund an austere residency program.  And, you can pretty much forget about starting any significant initiatives that might expand youth and collegiate program development.  Even salaries can’t be paid as the last Board Meeting Minutes highlight that the CEO forgave back pay and will likely take a salary cut.

This is why it’s often talked about finding Board Directors that can financially contribute to USA Team Handball.  This includes personal contributions as well as the capacity to solicit friends and business connections.  The most prominent example of this is former Board President, Dieter Esch who reportedly provided contributions in the mid 6 figures from 2008-2010.  Former Board President Harvey Schiller also made significant personal contributions and reportedly worked his connections as best he could to solicit more support for the Federation.  Other Board Members, including current Interim Board President, Bob Djokovich ($11,555 recently) have made contributions to help keep operations afloat.

Why Not Go Bigger?

But, maybe the need is so significant that USA Team Handball needs to think bigger.   Millionaires are nice, but billionaires are where it’s at.  Or, maybe perhaps 6 figure millionaires.  Individuals with the wherewithal and connections to provide an injection of around $2M/year for the next several years.  Maybe this is just really wishful thinking, but then again maybe not.

There’s a solid pitch that just might be bought by the right wealthy individual who likes sports and relishes a challenge.  Someone perhaps who’s thinking about spending 10’s or even 100’s of millions of dollars for a professional sports franchise.  That pitch goes like this:

Why not spend a smaller amount transforming a USA National team from a perennial loser into a world power?  Instead of spending millions of dollars on salaries for a handful of athletes why not spend millions of dollars on youth athletes, collegiate athletes, and a few professionals that make 5 figure salaries, not 7 and 8 figure salaries?  And, this is not just about you opening your wallet and writing a big check.  We need your experience, knowledge and skills to help build a plan to make it happen.  Can you?  Will you do this for your country?  Do you want to be with us 10 years from now in Los Angeles when Team USA steps on to the Olympic podium?

Well, I’m sold on that pitch.  Too bad, I don’t have the resources to write the big check.  But, something tells me that there is somebody out there with the resources that might be so inclined.   We just need to find them, get them to listen to the pitch, and reel them in.  Easier said than done, but here are a couple of by name possibilities to consider.

Bob Rich, the Retired Billionaire Team Handball Player/Coach

Every day, courtesy of Google, I get an email with news articles referencing the word, “handball.”  It’s an eclectic mix of articles that really reminds me where my favorite sport fits in the big scheme of things.  This is because half of the articles aren’t about the sport of handball.  They are either about, “wall handball”, or more likely the latest controversial handball call in a soccer match.  (Seriously, enough about Thierry Henry, Please!)

But, occasionally, I get a random article from an unusual source.  One such article was this one from the Buffalo News:

The Quiet Billionaire: Bob Rich is Still Buffalo’s Ultimate Booster: Link

“Meh,” I thought to myself this guy probably plays “wall handball” on occasion at the gym.  But, instead I was surprised to find out that this “quiet billionaire” actually played and coached a team handball squad at the 1978 Empire State Games.  The Empire State Games is kind of an Olympics for New York State and actually introduced quite a few people to the sport of handball back in the 1970s and 80s.  And, Bob Rich was one of those people.  In fact, a little internet searching dug up the fact that he’s quite enamored with the sport.

So much so, that he devoted an entire chapter to team handball in his book, “The Right Angle: Tales of A Sporting life.”  The chapter highlights his discovery of the sport, his efforts to put together a team from scratch in the Buffalo area, and his surprisingly good memory recalling details from matches played 30+ years ago.  Even has references to USA handball legend, Laszlo Jurak, who coached the Long Island team.

Google Books:  Link

Who is Bob Rich?  He is the majority owner of Rich Products, a frozen foods company.  According to Forbes, he is the 441st  richest person in the U.S. with a net worth of $5.52 billion dollars.  In addition to dabbling in handball, he owns the Buffalo Bisons AAA baseball team and two other minor league baseball teams.  He’s also on the Board of Directors for the Cleveland Clinic.  Might I suggest he would be a good addition to the USA Team Handball Board as well.

The Cuban-Nowitzki Combo

Further down the list of richest Americans is Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban at #564 with a net worth of $3.4B.  But, Cuban is surely one of the best known billionaires initially becoming famous with his vocal antics in support of his team and now with his regular participation on the TV show, Shark Tank.  He’s also shown a penchant for supporting other sports including rugby, which he played in college.  He even has a principal owner’s stake with a proposed Professional Futsal League which could due to the court size/goals similarity of the two sports have a natural affinity with handball.

Cuban, however, is a very busy guy.  When he’s not fully engaged with his NBA franchise he’s off doing something else.  Sure, handball could be added to his large portfolio, but maybe there’s a sidekick millionaire he’s friendly with that might be a better fit.  Someone who’s currently very busy, but that come May/June of this year might have a lot of spare time on his hands.

That someone, of course, is Dirk Nowitzki, one of the greatest basketball players of all time who is expected to retire at the end of the NBA season.  Nowitzki, who is German, reportedly plans to split time between Germany and the U.S. and has even talked about acquiring a U.S. passport.  And, Nowitzki is very familiar with team handball since his father Jorg, was a top player in his younger days.  Could Nowitzki be convinced to take a bit of his time to be an ambassador to the sport?  To convince his former employer to help take the sport another level in the U.S.?  Why not?  It’s certainly worth asking.


Bob Rich Jr., and the Cuban-Nowitzki combo are but two possibilities.  Surely, there are others.  The net should be cast far and wide with the key selling points that financial support and a willingness to help craft a strategy to transform the sport in this country are needed.  Call me crazy, but I think such a pitch just might work.

USA Team Handball Board of Directors:  Change is Coming

USA Team Handball Board of Directors President, Dr Harvey Schiller resigns. In all likelihood, more changes to the Board are coming in the near future.

This past Thursday (1 Feb) many in the U.S. handball community got a bit of a surprise in their inbox, in the form of a resignation letter from the now former USA Team Handball (USATH) Board of Directors (BoD) President, Dr. Harvey Schiller.  Dr. Schiller, easily the highest profile Board Director USATH has ever had thanked everyone for their support and noted that he believed it was “best to now bring in new leadership including capable board members to meet the challenges ahead.”  Board Member and 1984 Olympian Bob Djokovich has stepped in as the interim Board President for the next 60 days.

The surprises, however, did not stop there as the January 18 BoD Meeting Minutes that were also provided included a lengthy section highlighting upcoming Board elections.  I like to think that I’m a pretty sharp guy, but I’ll have to admit that I struggled to decipher all of the information contained.

Fortunately, I was able to get a hold of Mike Lenard on the phone in Korea where he is supporting the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.  We discussed the board minutes and the existing bylaws and he was able to clarify for me the upcoming election process.  From my perspective, here are the key points:

  • The underlying issue is the conflicting language regarding BoD terms and elections in the current federation bylaws. Mike has worked on a volunteer basis to update the bylaws to address these and other issues and it is still an ongoing effort.  4 Board Member seats are past due for an election and 3 others will be due for an election in the near future.
  • There are a number of ways that this current situation could be resolved, but the crux of the matter is that 7 of the 9 board members have been serving on the board longer than 4 years, the standard term length.   (The 2 Athlete Representative positions (David Thompson and Sarah Gascon) were recently elected and their terms will not expire until 2021.)
  • Mike Lenard proposed a couple of options and the one the board decided to have him further flesh out would be to have 3 elections as soon as possible (with 2 for new terms and 1 to replace Dr Schiller for the remainder of his term) and 4 elections later this year. He is now working on more detailed procedures that will then be provided to the board for a vote to incorporate in the By-laws.
  • The near term election will be for 3 Independent Board members and the election later this year will be for 3 Independent Board Members and 2 General Membership Board Members. (The seat formerly held by Dr Schiller will be elected both in the near term and later this year.)
  • The different board positions will be clearly identified in terms of their term length. It is also desired that terms be staggered with 4 or 5 board seats having their terms expire every 2 years.
  • Each class of Board Membership has a distinctly different electorate.
    • Athlete Representatives are elected by athletes who have represented the U.S. in international competition within the last ten years. (The exact requirements for this electorate may be tweaked)
    • General Membership Board Members are elected by members in good standing with USA Team Handball. This will likely be an election later this year similar to the one that was held in 2013 which saw the election of Jennie Choi and Attila Agoston to the Board.  The current by-laws indicate that only “athlete members” can run and vote in the election for this position, but it’s been proposed that this be modified to allow any member in good standing to run for the board.
    • Independent Board Members are “elected” by the Nominating & Governance Committee. This committee has 5 members and their responsibilities also include identifying and interviewing potential board members.  While it is technically an election in reality it is more likely to be a collaborative selection process by the committee.
  • The current members of the Nominating & Governance Committee are Tom Fitzgerald (Chair), Cindy Stringer and Dennis Berkholtz. The current BoD will need to confirm these members and add two new members.

So, that’s the “nuts and bolts”, as I see it, in terms of process that USA Team Handball will be using for the upcoming Board elections.  I should emphasize, though, that nothing has been formally approved yet by the Board.  As, I hear further developments I will post them.

Current USA Team Handball Board of Directors: Link

IHF Trophy Competitions to be Hosted by USA

2017 Pan American IHF Trophy Champs. The U.S. will get to host a Zone Tournament as they seek to re-claim the title in 2019.

The IHF has awarded hosting rights to the U.S. for both Youth and Jr IHF Trophy Competitions.  The tourneys will be staged simultaneously at the new Lifezone Team Handball Academy in West Dundee, Illinois from 7-13 May.   The Lifezone Team Handball Academy is the first handball program/facility devoted primarily to youth development in the U.S.

The IHF Trophy Competitions were established by the IHF to provide developing handball nations competitive matches in a formal setting.  The U.S. has been competitive in these tournaments, particularly on the Men’s side having won both the North American region and this past spring the Pan American title.

For the 2018-2019 cycle the IHF has expanded the program to include both “Youth” and “Jr” competitions.  The Jr competition will be limited to athletes 21 or younger (born in 1998) or later, while the Youth competition will be limited to athletes 19 or younger (born in 2000) or later.  (The age requirements are intended to match the 2nd year of the competition (2019))

The zones for the competition have also changed with the U.S. now competing vs Canada, Martinique, Barbados, Dominica, Barbados and Haiti.  Based on past tournament performance the pre-tournament favorites are the U.S., Canada and Martinique as the remaining nations are relative newcomers to the sport.

The other North American Zone includes Mexico, Puerto Rico and additional Caribbean nations.  There are also 2 South American zones and a definitive qualification format has yet to be announced.  Because of the proposed split to the Pan-American Region it’s possible that the North America and South America regions will have separate championships.  If that’s the case it’s possible that 2 nations from each of the North American Zones will advance to a continental championship with the winner of that tournament advancing to the Inter-Continental Championship.

The U.S. has several players from previous campaigns that will be available, but will need to find some replacements for several athletes on the Jr team that have aged out.  Tryouts are scheduled for San Francisco, Auburn and the Chicago area.  Athletes that can’t make the scheduled tryouts, including dual citizens living abroad, can also apply to participate.  More information is available at the USA Team Handball website.

The location of these tournaments at the Lifezone Team Handball Academy in West Dundee, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago) provides a great marketing and showcase opportunity for this new program.  Great credit for putting together a winning bid in a short period of time goes to the Academy’s Director, Craig Rot.

  • More information on the Lifezone Team Handball Academy: Link
  • USA Team Handball Announcement: Link
  • IHF Information on the IHF Trophy: Link

Inaugural Team Handball News Collegiate Top 5 Poll (Jan 2018)

The first ever “Team Handball News Collegiate Top 5 Poll” is out and to no one’s surprise Army (West Point) is the unanimous 1st place pick by all 9 voters.  In fact, having won 11 straight national titles it’s a pretty safe bet that they would have had been ranked #1 consistently since 2006 (when they lost to North Carolina) if the poll had been in existence.  Army is 2-0-0 in collegiate matches with wins over Air Force (26-22) and Virginia (20-16).  Overall, they’ve compiled a less impressive 5-0-6 record, but those 6 losses were to clubs either ranked in the Top 5 (Open Poll including non-collegiate clubs) or teams from Canada.  Army is also currently in 2nd place in the Northeast Team Handball League.

Ranked 2nd is Air Force, which as previously mentioned had a 4 goal loss to arch rival Army and has an overall 2-4 record.  In December they placed 4th at the Texas Cup in Dallas with respectable losses to Chicago Inter and SF Cal Heat.  Nipping at Air Force’s heels is Virginia, which has a 3-0-0 collegiate record with victories over James Madison (29-12), Army’s 2nd Team (22-21) and Carolina’s 2nd Team (25-10) to go along with their loss to top ranked Army.  Virginia’s overall record is 4-1-4 and they were the top placing collegiate team (3rd) at the Fall Tar Heel Tourney.

In 4th place is Illinois St which is 4-0-0 in collegiate play with victories over Cincinnati (17-16), Ohio St (17-16), Miami (OH) 26-21, and Ohio St’s 2nd Team (19-14).  Overall, though they are 4-0-4 and suffered heavy losses to Chicago Inter and Barrington, a team actually mostly composed of high schoolers.  Rounding out the top 5 is Ohio St which with a 5-0-4 mark has played the most collegiate games.  They won their own tournament, the Buckeye Fall Classic, but had a less than stellar performance at Miami (OH) Red Hawk Tourney.

USA Club (Match Results):  Link
USA Club (Ranking and Statistical Data): Link

Team Handball News Collegiate Poll Sponsorship

Bryan Cothorn will continue to organize all the statistical data and tabulate the poll votes, but after some minor wrangling I’ve convinced him to let Team Handball News sponsor the Collegiate Ranking.  Bryan will also be doing polls for the Men’s and Women’s clubs, but I’m choosing to take a special interest in the college poll and the college game in general.

There’s a couple of reasons for this. First, for college sports there’s quite a bit of tradition when it comes to polling.  With hundreds of colleges playing sports in a hodge podge patchwork of conferences nationwide a national poll, for better or worse, has often been the only way to gage where teams stand.  Indeed, for college football it was actually how the National Champion was determined until 1998. (An absolutely ridiculous method that has now been partially fixed) Polls are a college tradition and I’m glad to see that team handball is joining the pantheon of college sports with its very own poll.

The other reason is that I think the college game should get more attention in emphasis than it does currently in this country.  I highlighted some of the issues surrounding the college game in these commentaries.

Part 1: Background: Link
Part 2: Strategies to Implement: Link

In the coming weeks I’ll be following up with some additional thoughts on ways to improve the quality of play and provide greater publicity/exposure to the college game.

Podcast (Episode 27): Sterne School Handball Coach, Craig Brewer

The Sterne School Dolphins, 2017 Youth Cal Cup Champions

This past November, The Sterne School of San Francisco won their 2nd consecutive Youth Cal Cup title. Joining me on the podcast is their head coach Craig Brewer.  Craig was the 2016 USA Team Handbal Youth Development Handball Coach of the Year and has been involved with education for 20 years.  We discuss the genesis of the Sterne School handball program and how the San Francisco Cal Heat Club has helped develop Middle School and High School Handball in the Bay Area.  We also discuss the challenges of starting a High School handball program and brainstorm some options for further handball growth in American Schools.

Sterne School: Link

SF Cal Heat: Link

Video of Sterne School vs Bayhill:  Link

Youth CalCup 2017: Bayhill vs. Sterne – 2nd half

Posted by San Francisco CalHeat Team Handball Club on Saturday, November 18, 2017


Link to commentary on football positions ideal for handball: Link

The Unofficial sponsor of this podcast episode was ehfTV and the 2018 Men’s European Championships.  Catch all the action from 12-28 January, for free, live and on demand on ehfTV. The world’s best option for handball web streaming.

If you would like to advertise on the Team Handball News Podcast contact John Ryan at

Subscribe to the Team Handball News Podcast in iTunes: Link

Or use this RSS Feed to sign up for the podcast in your favorite podcast aggregator: Link

USA Women’s Trip to France:  Summary of Results and Top Level Analysis   

USA Women on defense vs Belgium

The USA Women recently traveled to France for some training and friendly competition.  Here’s a summary of their match results based on information obtained from French Club, the Belgian Federation, USA Team Handball website and various social media accounts:

16 December  USA vs Paris Saint-Germain 26-18 (Halftime 12-10)
17 December  USA vs Belgium 29-31 (11-12)
19 December  USA vs Belgium 21-31 (13-14)
20 December  USA vs HBCSA 19-31 (10-13)
21 December  USA vs Lomme Lille Metropole 24-29 (11-14)

Background on the Competition

Here’s some very top level analysis on the competition Team USA faced during the trip.  “Very top level” in that other than a few video clips I did not see any of the matches.  The relative quality of the French club team can be assessed by the division they play in.  Unlike their male counterparts (one of the world’s top clubs), the Paris S-G women play in somewhat obscurity in France’s N2F, effectively the 4th Division in France’s confusing club hierarchy nomenclature.   They entered the winter break with a 3-1-4 record and are in 7th place in their pool.   HBCSA plays in France’s 2nd Division and they had compiled a 4-1-3 record so far this season and are in 5th place.  Lomme Lille Metropole plays in France’s N1F (effectively the 3rd level) and had a 4-2-2 record and are in 4th place in their pool.

As far as to the level of the Belgian Women’s team there’s not very much in terms of recent results to assess how good they are.  According to Belgian native Jan Vanderstraeten, who plays for the Portland Sasquatch the Belgium ladies have only recently restarted their program after 13 years of not playing in international competition.  Overall, handball in Belgium is a significantly lower level than most countries in Europe, but they are now taking steps to develop their program.

Team USA Makes Do with Thin Roster

The U.S. was missing several key players and was particularly lacking in backcourt experience.  Further, with 3 goalies on the 13 player roster leaving only 10 court players available such a thin roster had to be a concern going into the trip.

Team USA Roster

Taking into account the thin roster, a 1-4 record with 2 lopsided losses against modest competition is not a surprise to me.  Playing 5 matches in 6 days is really demanding for a team with a full roster of experienced players and the U.S. was clearly short handed. Truth be told, it could have been worse and the U.S. is commended for easily taking care of the 4th division team, playing Belgium close in the first game and then playing the 2nd Division side close for a half.  Again, having not seen the matches I can only guess that the U.S. ran out of gas in the 2nd halves of the 2nd match vs Belgium and against HBCSA.

Finally, if one compares this trip’s results to the trip taken last January to France there are signs of progress.  For sure, last year’s trip had a more robust roster, but yet actually compiled more disappointing results against similar competition.  If the U.S. roster had included Andersen, Butler and Van Ryn helping out in the backcourt this team would surely have fared better.

Photos: USA vs Belgium Link Link

Belgian Federation Reports on matches: Link Link (France) Report on match vs HBCSA: Link

Photos: USA vs Lomme Lille Metropole: Link

USA Team Handball Preview of Trip: Link


USA Men’s Club Rankings (1st Poll and Some Background Info)

First USA Men’s Club Poll (December 2017) (Rest of the Top 25: Link)

The first poll ranking the top men’s clubs in the U.S. has been released with the New York Athletic Club (NYAC) edging New York City (NYC) for the top spot.  NYAC’s resume so far this season consists of a 5-0-0 record and a Michael Lipov Tournament title in Chicago this past October.  NYC is also undefeated with a spotless 6-0-0 in Northeast Team Handball League play.

Rounding out the top 5 are Chicago Inter, Revol and San Francisco CalHeat.  Chicago Inter has a 16-1-1 record and is dominating play in the Midwest Team Handball League, placed 2nd to NYAC at the Michael Lipov Tourney and won the inaugural Texas Cup earlier in December.  Revol, a new side consisting mostly of current and former Residency Program players at Auburn has a 3-0-2 record from the Chicago Tourney where they took 3rd place.  Rounding out the top 5 is San Francisco Cal Heat with a 6-0-4 record, a 4th place finish in Chicago and a 2nd place finish in Texas.

Background on the Ranking Process

The bulk of the credit for this undertaking goes to Bryan Cothorn with the DC Diplomats and Northeast Team Handball League.  Bryan has compiled the results and tabulated several different ranking statistics at this website:  Link

Further, he rounded up several volunteers to review this data plus factor in their own personal observations to come up with their own individual ranking.  These individual rankings are then combined to produce the overall club ranking: Link

Background on Rankings (in General)

The concept of “rankings” may be common knowledge to many American sports fans, but as there are a fair number of expats involved with handball in the U.S. here’s a brief explanation/history as it relates to sports rankings.

First off, let’s be clear:  These rankings have no “official” bearing.  They are not endorsed by USA Team Handball and they won’t be used to select teams for the Elite National Championship bracket.  That process for selecting will card teams is defined in the rule book and those current standings are here: Link

It’s possible that these rankings could be used by some tournament organizers to seed pools, but that’s not officially defined anywhere.

As far as guidelines for the voters, much like the NCAA polls used for college sports there are no hard and fast rules.  Voters are free to weigh different factors as they see fit.  I’m one of the voters and I’ll tend to put more emphasis on key head to head results.  But, if two clubs are close to each other I’ll probably reward the club that plays in a league and practices once in awhile.  You don’t like that?  Tough. As Bobby Brown once told America over and over, “It’s my prerogative, I can do what I wanna to do

So what’s the purpose of the rankings, then?  Well, it’s simply for fun and recognition.  To acknowledge teams for their performances on the court.  Bragging rights, if you will.  To give some context to matchups that are taking place.  It may not be official per se, but it adds a little bit more to your pregame pep talk to say that you are taking on the #1 team in the nation.  And, it can really mean a lot for a newcomer team crack the top 10 after years of being just another team.

And, for sure, part of the fun are the debates that inevitably arise. The chip on their shoulder a team gets when they are somehow ranked way lower than they think they should be.  Stupid voters! How come we can’t get any respect?  East Coast bias!  NYAC shouldn’t be #1.  Those lazy mercenaries don’t even bother to play in the Northeast League any more. Chicago Inter may have 16 wins, but how many of those W’s are just beating up on weak Midwest opponents? etc, etc.

Future Considerations

We’ve already gotten some great feedback and we’re looking at adding a Women’s poll.  I’m adding a college specific poll that will place extra emphasis on college vs college results.  And, I’m also planning on adding some Wiki style pages that will make it easier for everyone to see the results of different competitions.  And, better yet, hopefully for players and coaches to enter the results themselves.

Finally, we would like to get some more balanced representation from other parts of the country so if you’re interested in voting please contact Bryan Cothorn.


Team USA Olympic and World Championship Qualification Odds (Part 2):  Assessing 2024 Olympic Qualification Odds Based on Level of Investment

Projected U.S. Olympic Qualification Odds based on level of investment. Does this reality suggest a strategy that forgoes investment in the near to mid term in favor of  maximizing national team performance in 2028?

In Part 1, I highlighted the long odds USA National face in the next couple of years.  In Part 2, I project what the odds are for the 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games.  I also get a little philosophical as to whether those odds suggest a re-evaluation of USA Team Handball’s near to mid- term priorities.

2024 Olympic Prospects

With under 2 years to get ready for the 2020 Olympics it should come us as no surprise to anyone with even just an inkling of handball knowledge that the U.S. Men and Women do not have a realistic chance of qualifying for those Olympics.  Perhaps, some folks don’t fully realize to the extent of just how unrealistic it is, but most people are aware that it’s not very likely to happen.

But, even if there is virtually no chance to qualify there is still an obligation to make a good faith effort to do so.  Further, one can make the case that efforts to qualify for 2020 will have the benefit of setting up a stronger and more realistic attempt to qualify in 2024.

For an Olympics qualification run that is less than 2 years away it’s fairly straight forward to assess how successful such a campaign might be.  This is because the teams that compete in those qualifying tournaments will bear a strong resemblance to the teams of today.  Sure, there will be some roster changes to both Team USA and its competition, but on the whole it’s pretty unlikely that there will be a dramatic drop off or gain in performance.

6 years out, however, is a bit more difficult to project.  Will Argentina’s Diego Simonet at age 33 still be as big of factor? Or will Argentina even be better with some promising newcomers complimenting the wily veteran?  Will the Brazilian women be as strong with less sponsorship and support then what they received in the run up the 2016 Olympics?  Could Cuba’s economy improve such that they are competing on a regular basis?

And, what of the U.S. teams?  Could the U.S. Women continue to improve with several newcomers joining the program to replace some veteran athletes due to retire?  Could the U.S. Men show steady improvement with a mix of dual citizens and top athletes learning the game at Auburn?  Or, might the U.S. teams simply tread water playing with a measure of respectability, but lacking the depth and talent needed to challenge the likes of Argentina and Brazil.  Or, could the U.S. sink even further in terms of relative competitiveness?

Projecting the 2024 Competition

I could set up a table of possibilities as I did for 2020 qualification, but doing so would be pointless.  There are simply too many variables to project out that far.  That being said, I think some top level crystal ball projections can be made in regards to our competition.

  • The Brazilian Men are poised to be very good for years to come. Multiple players in their early to mid 20’s are playing for top clubs in Europe.  Their domestic league is also respectable and they’ve fielded Jr and Youth National Teams with great depth.
  • The Argentinian Men are also solid, but lack the depth Brazil has. They’ve got Simonet, though, and if he’s playing well Argentina will continue to be a threat for a gold medal.
  • No other Men’s PHF team appears to be on a trajectory to challenge Brazil or Argentina anytime soon. Chile and Greenland have decent teams, but their lack of depth is even more pronounced than Argentina’s.
  • The Brazilian Women have a Golden Generation that is starting to age out. I doubt that their replacements will be as good, but on the whole they have tremendous depth. Brazil’s 2nd and 3rd teams could have taken silver and bronze for the last several years if they had been allowed to participate in PHF Tourneys.
  • The Argentinian Women have yet to show that they can improve to the level of Brazil. Solid technical players, but they have to find a game changing athlete that can take them to the next level.
  • No other Women’s PHF team appears to be on a trajectory to challenge Brazil, but several sides are probably capable of mounting a challenge to Argentina
  • As an aside, the Cuban Men’s and Women’s programs are a real wild card. If properly resourced they surely could contend with other 2nd tier programs and perhaps even challenge for a PANAM Games Gold Medal.

Projecting Team USA in 2024

But, what about the U.S. Men and Women in 6 years time?  Taking the court in Santiago, Chile, the likely host of the 2023 PANAM Games.  As discussed, there are a lot of variables to factor in, but there is one simple thing that can be done:  Just add 6 years to the age of every athlete in the current talent pool.  If one does this simple addition to the Sr Team rosters for the past few tournaments, you’ll reach a quick conclusion:  That there will likely be only a few hold overs between now and then.

With the U.S. Men the roster change will likely be pretty significant.   The last major Men’s competition was the 2016 Pan American Championships I would assess that perhaps 4 or 5 players from that roster will be on the team in 2023.   I would then add 1 or 2 players from the current team at Auburn and then 4 or 5 dual citizens that have shown promise in Jr Events.  There’s some overlap with those 3 groups, but all told I think 10 athletes could come from our current player pools (Sr and Jr).  And, that would mean 6 athletes that aren’t even playing or perhaps just started playing would be on a 2023 roster.

And, such a roster would have some major question marks.  The biggest one being who would be the reliable, consistent scoring threat in the backcourt?  Perhaps a 39 year old Gary Hines will still be starting at backcourt, but I’d like to think he’ll have gently been nudged into retirement by some up and coming players.  Or at best he is a veteran reserve playing key minutes a la France’s Daniel Narcisse by then.

With the U.S. Women the change will be really dramatic.  I would assess that from the 2017 Pan American Championship roster the only holdovers could very well be just 3 or 4 younger dual citizen athletes.  Perhaps there will still be a couple of U.S. based players from the 2017 roster, but they will all be 31 or older and right in that age range where “life issue” decisions related to career and family could become more pressing.   Yes, there could be as many as 11 athletes on the U.S. Women’s Team in 2023 who are not even playing handball right now.

Now at first glance, particularly to our European friends, the prospect of the U.S. National Teams qualification for the 2024 Olympics with much of the roster consisting of newcomers might seem pretty farfetched. But, it is possible to take a quality athletic talent who has never played the game before and turn them into a decent handball player in 6 years time.  Possible, but not easy.  And, not cheap either.  It requires recruiting great athletes, providing them a quality training atmosphere and relatively frequent competition opportunities for those athletes.  I’ve written ad nauseum that the program at Auburn has not provided any of those key components for the past 4 years.  Don’t get me wrong.  Those athletes and coaches are working hard and doing the best they can, but there simply has not been enough financial support to do the job properly.

Playing the percentages (or the percentage gain)

But, what if we could properly fund our National Team programs?  Would it make a difference?  Would we then have a real shot at Olympic Qualification?

Those are very important questions.  Questions that should be asked, researched, and answered by USA Team Handball.  The short answer is that, of course, it would make a difference and it surely would improve our odds of qualifying.  But, the real questions are “How much would it improve our chances?” and “Is that percentage gain in improved chances worth the investment?”

For illustrative purposes, I’ll outline 3 possibilities in terms of investment to support or National Teams over the next 6 years and assess at a top level what our chances of qualification will be:

Minimal Investment:  This is the status quo and would mean relying on dual citizens and the continued recruitment and development of athletes at Auburn under the current austere circumstances.

Modest Investment:  This would be a modest investment in the neighborhood of $500K to 1.5M/years to beef up support to the residency programs.  This investment would be used to improve the Residency Program with partial college scholarships, stipends for athletes and travel support for multiple trips/year for overseas competition.  This should improve recruiting and also improve the development outcomes for those new athletes.  Overall, this would be roughly comparable to the U.S. residency programs of the 80’s and 90’s, particularly as you get closer to the $1.5M end of the scale.

Robust Investment: This would be an investment of $1.5-3M/year and would be an all in effort to fully maximize the performance of our teams in time for the 2023 PANAM Games.   The Residency Program would be further improved with select athletes receiving full scholarships and/or salaries.  A full time recruiting director would be hired.  Top athletes would be placed overseas via training arrangements with top European clubs.  This would be an unprecedented level of support perhaps comparable to what Olympic Sports currently under the NCAA umbrella receive.

Taking those 3 possible investment scenarios into account here’s how I would assess the likelihood for USA qualification in 2024.  (You’ll see that for illustrative purposes I also include the odds for 2020 and 2028)

USA Women


Excepting, Brazil and to a lesser extent Argentina, the competition in Pan America is relatively weak.  This means that a modest investment if properly executed could put together the 2nd best team in Pan America fairly quickly.   The U.S. would still not be nearly as good as Brazil, but capable of pulling off a 1 in 10 upset of Brazil in a one off Gold Medal match.  If more resources are provided with a robust investment I could see that being upped to a 1 in 5 upset possibility.  However, I don’t see it going higher because 6 years, regardless of investment, is just not enough time to put together a roster of that caliber mostly from scratch.



Recall from Part 1 that Olympic Qualification for the USA Men, in most scenarios would require successfully beating both Argentina and Brazil.  That’s very likely to still be true in 2024.  For our current team this is really daunting and for 2020 Olympic qualification would require winning two 50-1 upsets or a 1 in 2,500 proposition.  For 2024 I think a modest investment would improve our team such that odds of an upset would be in the neighborhood of 10-1, but again the double whammy is a real killer meaning the odds of doing it twice are still 1 in 100.  A robust investment would further improve our National Team, but as with the Women, 6 years is just not enough time to reach Argentina and Brazil’s level.  We could improve our odds for an upset to perhaps 1 in 5, but again that means performing a double upset which would be about a 4% possibility.

Significant Investment for Minimal Gain

So, if we have no further investment to beef up our residency programs we face really, really long odds.  And, if we do provide additional investment we essentially change “really, really long” to “really long”.  With the Men’s program such an investment would have almost no value.  Spend a little or spend a lot, it just won’t move the needle much. With the Women’s program there is some small value, but it’s certainly nothing to get excited about.

Bottom Line: Significant investment directed at improving our National Teams with the intent of securing a 2024 Olympic Qualification slot makes very little sense.  Even our current investment is highly questionable.

Now, if Los Angeles had been awarded the 2024 Olympic Games, the whole dynamic changes.  “Really long shot qualification” replaced with “automatic qualification”.  The discussion would then become how do we put the most competitive team possible on the court in 7 years time?  And, that would logically lead to a near term strategy with some really aggressive recruitment.  And, even I would advocate some investment in such a strategy.   But, 2024 didn’t happen.  LA got 2028 and that reality should lead to a totally different approach and strategy.

Why it All Matters

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time outlining the long odds.  And, sure as the sun comes up every day, I will get some grief along the lines of “Why are you always so negative about things?  Why always, with the glass half empty?”

My response is that I’m an analytical guy.  I’ve looked at the data and I’m sorry, there’s just a lot of reasons to be negative.  The glass isn’t half empty.  There’s barely any liquid in the glass at all. Quite frankly, if you’re all sunshine and roses about our prospects for qualification in 2020 and 2024 you’re either lacking information to understand the big picture or kidding yourself big time.

There’s a time and place for optimism.  Certainly when you’re getting dressed in the locker room against a superior opponent it’s appropriate to be optimistic.  To go out there and give it your all.  The odds be damned.  Certainly, that was my attitude in my brief and unspectacular national team career.

But, when you are trying to map out a future for the sport in this country?  Sorry, Optimism must take a back seat to reality especially when you take into account all of the shortcomings the sport in this country needs to address.  Every dollar spent, every man hour directed toward near term national team support is a dollar and man hour that could have been spent on development and the building of a player base that could actually make the U.S. competitive in 2028.

Further, while USA Team Handball’s current incoming revenue is minimal (2015 was only $348K) that should change.  Sponsorship support will increase with the lead up to the Olympics.  The IHF could even kick in with funding support.   Am I concerned that way too much of that funding will be directed towards near term National Team support?  Propping up Residency Programs that are way too austere.  That our once in a generation Olympic opportunity will be squandered?  Yeah, I’m concerned.  Big time.  And, so should you.

USA Men Go 1-2 in First Leg of Super Series

Alex Recker led Team USA in scoring this past weekend with 19 goals in 3 matches

The USA Men travelled to Quebec this past weekend and played 3 matches against Canadian teams from Quebec, Alberta and Saskatchewan/Manitoba.  The U.S. opened play Friday night with an easy 44-26 victory over Canada Central, a team composed of players from the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Alex Recker led the U.S. with 9 goals, while Ty Reed added 7.

On Saturday night, the U.S. took on hosts Quebec and fell short 38-31.  The U.S. was again led in scoring by Alex Recker with 7 while Chris Morgan and Michael King added 5 each.  Quebec was led in scoring by Christian Toth with 11 and Etienne Mercer with 10. and  Video of the first half is available on Youtube and the U.S. struggled on defense against Quebec’s 7 player alignment.  The half ended 17-14 in favor of Quebec and likely would have been worse except for some tellar play in Goal by Alden Mezick

On Sunday afternoon the U.S. finished the weekend series of games with a 27-22 loss to Alberta.  The U.S. was led in scoring by Sean Zimber with 8 and Michael King with 4.  Alberta was led by Tyrell Johnston with 6 goals



Handball Quebec Facebook Page:  Link (source for results)

Handball Canada Summary: Link

Video: USA vs Quebec (1st half): Link