One of the first supporters of USA soccer died of prostate cancer. Australians please comment on the World Cup match today between Britain and the USA.


chloe watching the world cup USA vs. Britain

Lamar Hunt Wikipedia

Lamar Hunt and the “cornering of the silver market”
 

Lamar Hunt’s  money came from oil. Hunt’s ketchup is part of the Heinz family.

About the soccer game today. I happen to know that about 25 times a day some folks in Australia visit my site by way of  Yananow. I lettered in soccer in college but I was not really that good. And I don’t really know the strategy, rules and am not really into the World Cup until the last few games. Today’s game did intrigue me however and so it was unusual  for me to tune in and watch. To my little knowledge it would seem to me that the tie today was a huge victory for the USA and may bode well for how they do. It also appeared to me that the Brits had a much better team and that the USA was lucky. I say this because of the shots on goal Britain had throughout the match. I have not listened to any commentary, I watched without the sound.

The man felt most responsible for getting soccer started in the USA and the person that built the first modern dedicated soccer stadium died of prostate cancer in 2006. For some reason I had forgotten the sports side of Mr. Hunt. I did remember the Football league he started and how Herschel Walker skipped on the NFL and played for the New Jersey Generals as I recall.  What I remember about the Hunts was the scandal regarding trying to corner the silver market. I also remember a philosophical quip about  Mr. Hunt. It went like this: “How much was Lamar Hunt worth when died?”  You begin to think of all the millions and then the  answer comes: ” When he died he was worth nothing.” As my mother used to say, ” You can’t take it with you, John.” And another and I’ll paraphrase because I am tired of looking things up…  What I kept, I lost. What I gave away…I still have.

If you are a soccer fan and I am particularly interested in someone from a ” real soccer” community, would you mind adding some perspective to what happened today and maybe give some insight into the implications going forward.

So Lamar Hunt does the silver thing, does a lot for the sport of soccer and dies of prostate cancer. Michael Milken does the wall street thing, is the founder of the PCF, and has prostate cancer. Small world.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006
ESPNsoccernet:&nbspDecember 14, 7:47 AM US
Hunt a quiet pioneer of U.S. soccer


Frank Dell’Apa

When Lamar Hunt was courting his wife, Norma, they stood on the terraces for a Shamrock Rovers match in Dublin. That trip to Ireland in 1962 also kicked off Hunt’s interest in soccer and started him on a path toward becoming the game’s most persistent financial backer in the U.S.

Lamar Hunt was one of the biggest backers of the sport of soccer in America. (Eric Schlueter/WireImage)
 

Hunt was a farsighted and innovative investor in sports, starting with the American Football League in 1960, then the North American Soccer League, World Championship Tennis and Major League Soccer. But Hunt, who died Wednesday after an eight-year battle with prostate cancer, still kept a low profile and in interviews remained humble and revealed he was aware of his own mortality.

In 1962, Hunt was a 30-year-old heir to an oil fortune and had already made his mark in professional sports as a founder of the AFL. His impact on professional sports started to take effect in the late 1960s, and his adventurous spirit and imagination would help shape soccer in the U.S. He was impressed by television transmissions of the 1966 World Cup final and became an original investor in the NASL as owner of the Dallas Tornado. Hunt was a key figure in the AFL-NFL merger and coined the term “Super Bowl” (inspired by his daughter Sharron’s super ball toy) for professional football’s championship game. He began attending World Cup matches in Mexico in 1970, witnessing every Brazil match (except for the 1978 World Cup in Argentina) through 2002.

But Hunt’s longest-lasting legacy could be his decision to build Columbus Crew Stadium, the first soccer-specific stadium of consequence constructed in the U.S. since the 1920s. Four more such stadiums have been completed for MLS teams (including Hunt’s Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas), two are set to open next year (Denver and Toronto), and ground has been broken on two more.

“One stadium in one city and one sold-out game doesn’t make a success,” Hunt said before the opening of Crew Stadium in 1999. “But this stadium will be here for 50 years, even if I won’t be.”

Crew Stadium was not extravagant. But it symbolized much about Hunt’s vision and how he regarded soccer in the U.S. Crew Stadium cost about $29 million, a fraction of Hunt’s fortune, but the importance of it was that it started a movement toward similar stadiums.

After the 2002 World Cup, during which Hunt visited all 20 stadiums used in Japan and South Korea, Hunt was asked when he thought soccer would succeed in the U.S.

“I have no doubts that it will be a major sport in the United States,” Hunt said. “I’m probably not going to live to see that day because Americans are a little afraid of getting interested in something at which they’re not very good. So it depends on how quickly the U.S. can become good. Well, we’ve made huge strides since the 1990 World Cup, USA ’94, and obviously since ’98. Unfortunately, those strides only register with the public once every four years. But I have no question that we’re going to see the sport become a major success in the United States, with high attendance at club games.”

Hunt was an ambitious proponent of soccer in the ’60s, funding a world tour for the Dallas Tornado before they had played a home game, and bringing top European talent to the team. But by 1969, there were only five teams still in business and Hunt was a key figure in keeping the league going until the arrival of Pele’ in 1975.

By 1981, though, the NASL was declining again, and Hunt folded the Tornado. He became more cautious with the MLS, believing the U.S. public only needed time to catch on to professional soccer, and the league required conservative, slow-growth policies rather than ambitious player acquisitions.

Hunt was unable to translate his interest in Brazil into flashy, winning soccer, though. Hunt’s only championships were with the Tornado in 1971 and the Kansas City Wizards in 2000.

Hunt was the son of Haroldson Lafayette (H.L.) Hunt, who moved away from his Illinois farming family to Arkansas, where oil prospecting led him to tycoon status and the designation as possibly the richest man in the world. Lamar Hunt was born Aug. 2, 1932, in El Dorado, Ark., attended the Hill School in Pottstown, Pa., and attained a Bachelor of Science degree in geology from Southern Methodist University in 1956. Hunt’s first exposure to soccer was as a student at the Hill School; he played football at SMU.

National Football League owners rejected Hunt’s attempts to establish a new franchise, so he joined a group called “The Foolish Club,” which would charge investors $25,000 each for a franchise in the AFL. Eight teams started playing in 1960 and by 1966 had become successful enough to challenge the NFL on the field. And fittingly, at the end of that 1966 season, Hunt’s Kansas City Chiefs were playing in the first Super Bowl.

Hunt, as owner of the Kansas City Chiefs again clashed with the traditional NFL power structure when the NASL was established in December 1967 (following a merger of the nascent United States Soccer League and the National Professional Soccer League), when NFL owners began challenging the right to cross ownership of professional teams. Joe Robbie averted the challenge by naming his wife, Elizabeth, owner of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. The NASL won an anti-trust suit against the NFL, and though the judgment came too late for the league, it helped clear the way for Hunt and others such as Robert Kraft to invest in the MLS. When the MLS started in 1996, Hunt was listed as investor-operator of the Columbus Crew and Kansas City Wiz. Three years later, Hunt added the Dallas Burn. Hunt sold the Kansas City team to local investors this year.

In 1999, the U.S. Open Cup, the longest continuously held national team sporting competition in the country, was named the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Hunt had been battling prostate cancer since 1998 and was unable to attend the World Cup in Germany last summer. His sons, Clark and Dan, did attend the 2006 World Cup and are important figures in the management of FC Dallas and the MLS. Clark and Dan Hunt both graduated from SMU, Clark captaining the soccer team.

Frank Dell’Apa is a soccer columnist for The Boston Globe and ESPN.
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