York’s master soccer coach hangs up his whistle

It’s the first day of the rest of Paul James’ life, wrote The Canadian Press Jan. 6. The Hall of Fame soccer player is leaving coaching, no longer willing to pay the price that success on the sidelines demands.

James, 46, is a former Canadian under-20 men’s coach who has spent the last six years as “master coach’’ of the York University soccer programs. He coached the York women all six seasons, leading them to a 66-19-15 record and four Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championship appearances. The women’s Lions, who had never previously made it to the national championships before James, were runners-up in 2007 when he was named CIS and Ontario University Athletics coach of the year.

He also coached the York men for three seasons, before turning the team over to Carmine Isacco in 2007. The men won the national title in 2008.

While James savoured his time at York, he says it’s time for a career change. “After 20 years of coaching, I’ve just come to the decision that I want to just move away from that career. In a way, I’ve lost a little bit of the passion for it,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “I actually think, in part, the coaching career path I took has definitely been challenging and I think over time, in my experience, it can wear you down a little bit."

James is no ordinary coach. He has an MBA from the University of Liverpool, which is renowned for its “football industries’’ postgraduate program. A thoughtful observer of the game, he writes a column for The Globe and Mail and has served as an analyst for both The Score and GolTV.

James says his decision is final. “I don’t see myself coming back into coaching. I just want to move on to something else positive.’’

He quits the York sidelines with optimism for the university game, as long as soccer officials and media start appreciating its potential. “I leave the CIS system and I leave York University with great hope that other people out there in the Canadian soccer industry see the potential that the CIS has.’’

‘Sexting’ nude photos a concern among teens

Sexting (text + sex) seems a logical product of a culture where cellphones and sexy, suggestive images are ubiquitous, wrote the Toronto Star online Jan. 7. York University Professor Peter Cumming, of the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, would not disagree with that, but he does believe the act of sexting itself isn’t as egregious as everyone makes it out to be. He says sending naked or nearly naked photos as a flirtation or a joke can be as innocent as the sexy child’s play of the 1950s, when games such as Spin the Bottle or playing “doctor” were popular.

He says the act itself is relatively benign, even it the outcome might not be. “What’s different now, of course, is what happened in a dark rec room among a few people with no photographic or videotape record, when it becomes digitized and transmitted on the World Wide Web, maliciously or accidentally or whatever else, it takes on a life of its own that can do serious damage to anybody in their job prospects, in their educational future, in their relationships,” he says.

US is now reaping the whirlwind

In the rose-coloured and relentlessly upbeat years that preceded the nearly unprecedented meltdown that surfaced first in the US in the early autumn of 2007, its citizens experienced a sense of seemingly permanent euphoria, wrote William Dimma, former dean of the Schulich School of Business at York University, in the Toronto Star Jan. 7. The earlier demise of Soviet communism (“the end of history”) signalled the apparent triumph of the distinctively American brand of free enterprise. Subsequent economic growth, despite a corrective tweak now and then, seemed to confirm it.

In retrospect, those golden years may have been the modern-day equivalent of what nearly 150 years earlier and just before the end of the Battle of Gettysburg and its defining moment, Pickett’s Charge, became known wistfully as the High Water Mark of the Confederacy. Will those several buoyant years prior to 2007 be commemorated by historians as the High Water Mark of the Great Republic?

The US has been in many tough spots over the years and has almost always emerged from them with colours flying. Never underestimate the resilience and the resolve of Americans as individuals and America as a polity. And yet….

Suzuki cites York prof’s book on economy without growth

Constant growth is just not possible in a finite world with finite resources, wrote David Suzuki and Faisal Moola in Vancouver’s Westender Jan. 5. Our focus on constant economic growth also leads to some bizarre anomalies. War and natural disasters, for example, can contribute to economic growth by creating employment and resource-use activity.

In thinking beyond these artificial parameters that humans have set (and remember, they were only set during the middle of the 20th century), we can imagine a more sustainable way of living, as York University economist Peter Victor has done in his excellent book, Managing Without Growth: Slower by Design, Not Disaster. As Victor points out, we can’t change overnight, but by imagining a future in which humans live within the Earth’s capacity to provide for our ongoing needs, we can steer ourselves in the right direction.

On air

  • Wolfgang Stuerzlinger, professor in York’s Department of Computer Science & Engineering, Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about the future of 3-D TV, on Global TV Jan. 6.