Tag Archives: soccer

My 92 Year Old Mother Weighs in on the NFL and off the field Violence

momdayEarlier today I had a conversation with my mother regarding the violent behavior of football players in the National Football League.  It is important that I clearly indicate that the football players I am referring to play in the NFL because my mother, Sipora Groen, a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor from Holland, takes umbrage in the fact that we call the sport football.  I’ve heard her say countless times, ” That’s not football. They call it that but it’s not football.”  For my mother, what Americans call soccer is the REAL football.  It’s no secret how she feels about American football either.  She hates it.  And for her, the recent rash of violence from its players is vindication for her opinion.

The point she wants to make, and specifically asked me to relate to my readers, is that the nature of the sport creates an inevitability of this behavior.  She believes that a sport with constant violent hits, and men jumping on top of each other to keep the other men down, sometimes in large piles, creates such a pent-up aggression that these men are left with a need to relieve this aggression in some manner or another.  She is appalled by the domestic violence as any other normal person would be, but she also feels that the sport is not a normal sport and that as it exists in its current form will ultimately lead to more violence off the field.

She went on to say that she even believes that boxing is better because it only involves two people and the actions of these 2 people in the ring are carefully monitored.  She dismissed out of hand my notion that football is carefully monitored as well because in football men just haphazardly pile on top of each other.  She  is very clear about her opinion.  Unless the actual sport of football changes, more players will be involved in off the field violence.  She feels so strongly about this that it is her opinion that Ray Rice would not have hit his fiance, now his wife, in the elevator if it were not for his involvement in football.  I disagreed with this, but she insisted she was right, and at 92 and sharp as a tack, she very well could be.

Once my mother was done giving her opinion I promised I’d write this, but also told her I had to go.  I wanted to watch the football game.




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Attention Netherlands Soccer Players:Win it for my Mother

9781468573909_COVER.inddLieve Nederland..Dear Dutch Soccer Team,

My mother is 92 years old, born and raised in Amsterdam, and a soccer (she only calls it football) fan.

She has expressed a strong desire to see you win the World Cup.  God willing she has many more World Cups left, but she is 92 and the window for this team is questionable.  Find something extra guys and win it for her!

Go Holland!

Does the World Cup Unite us?


Quick answer; it could.  If only the politicians and power mongers would let it.  In a world filled with violence and hatred, I am one of those who truly believes that the majority of the people watching care more about their country scoring a goal than any territorial conflict or prejudice against people.  Despite my belief that FIFA may very well be corrupt, a belief somewhat influenced by The Netherlands’ inability to break through and win it all, I truly believe this tournament, FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brasil, can do a lot more good than harm.  In fact, I don’t even think it is close.  I am not naive.  As a Jew and as an American, I know there are people who hate us.  But wouldn’t it be great if all the battles and anger could be left on a soccer pitch?  I know my prejudices towards countries like Holland, America and England are based on personal experiences that make me root in favor of their success, just as my prejudices against Iran, Algeria and France are also based on my experiences or perceptions.  However, wouldn’t it be great if it stopped there for everyone.  I wouldn’t gloat over the death of Iranians, but I certainly gloated over their defeat in a World Cup match.  When I say I hate Cristiano Ronaldo and I hate Portugal, it is because he strikes me as arrogant and I see Portugal as a villain in international soccer tournaments, not because I hate the country or people.  On the contrary, I have Portuguese blood.  My mother’s maiden name is Rodrigues-Lopes, a Portuguese name.  And my hatred for Ronaldo wants me to see him fail in football, excuse me, soccer, not fail in life.  And yes, as a Jewish man and Zionist I would much prefer Palestinians dancing in the streets because Israel didn’t qualify or because the U.S. got eliminated, not because of a successful terrorist attack that killed Jews.

The good news, I believe the majority of the planet would agree with this sentiment.  They just need to fight to create governments that feel the same way.  It may be a pipe dream, but to quote my favorite line from the movie Flashdance, “when you lose your dreams, you die.”


Europe 1940 to Euro 2012

Whenever possible, Holland’s Heroes attempts to take current events and link it to the story in Jew Face.  Sometimes it is an obvious connection, sometimes it is a stretch requiring imagination, and occasionally it is a connection that in its insignificance is mildly entertaining and sometimes even funny or ironic.  This particular post falls into that last category.

Over the next 5 days the champion for Euro 2012 International Football(soccer) tournament will be crowned.  The semifinal matches are as follows.  Today, Spain against Portugal.  Tomorrow, Germany against Italy.

The book Jew Face is the story of my parents Nardus and Sipora Groen, primarily surrounding the events taking place between 1940-1945.  My mother’s maiden name was Rodrigues-Lopes.  A Dutch Jew from Spanish-Portuguese descent, my mother spent 5 years either hiding or running from the Nazi killing machine with the help of my father Nardus Groen.  This book chronicles the events that took place as they lived through the time when Germany occupied Holland.  One of Germany’s allies during World War II; Italy.

I think the irony is obvious.  The not so obvious question, seeing as these countries are very different countries today is, who would I like to see win this thing.  I will keep that answer to myself.  At least for today.

Sports, destiny, and remembering a father

With today being 5 years since the passing of my father, Nardus Groen, in a blog that speaks of the book Jew Face and Nazi Germany’s occupation of Holland between 1940-45, you might ask yourself why this post talks about a Football (Soccer) game. Here’s why.  I remember calling my parents in Holland during times when I was living either in America or Israel.  My parents always warmly welcomed my call and had time to speak with me.  With one exception.  When there was a football match on my father was busy and would instruct me to call back at a later time.  It didn’t  have to be an international match between the Netherlands and a rival nation.  If Ajax of Amsterdam was playing, or one of Europe’s elite teams were on the television, there was very little that would pry him away from the television.  It was a passion of my father’s as it still is today for my mother.  So with that in mind, on June 13, 2012, exactly 5 years after my father’s passing, it is impossible to ignore the fact that today, Holland must defeat Germany in order to have a reasonable shot at surviving the first round of Euro 2012 Football Championships.  It’s exactly what my father would have wanted on a day like today.  That and of course a Dutch victory over Germany. And maybe that will be what actually happens with the help of one special fan who is remembered with love and respect watching and cheering on from a very special place. Go Holland!