Sunil Gulati, president of the U.S. Soccer Federation and president of The Kraft Group's MLS New England Revolution, will be the next guest speaker of the Center for International Sport Business signature program, "For the Love of the Games," at 7 p.m. on March 31, 2011, in Sleith Hall at Western New England College in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Within the past year, the Olympic Movement lost three giants who contributed mightily to the spirit and vitality of a global event that in their lifetimes was transformed from an itinerant adjunct to World's Fairs to the greatest sporting festival on the planet. While the passings of longtime IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch (89) in April 2010 and Olympic filmmaker Bud Greenspan (84) in December 2010 were marked with due acknowledgement, the death of Bob Paul (93) in January 2011 escaped most peoples' notice. Bob was the U.S. Olympic Committee's longtime aide-de-camp who served officially as press chief and unofficially as historian and archivist, in which role he was regarded as the "keeper of the flame." I first met Bob in 1987 when I was as an intern there and we reconnected three years later when I returned to the USOC in a full-time capacity, which was the beginning of a wonderful friendship that spanned more than two decades. Bob's encyclopedic knowledge about Olympic lore was epic as it was legendary, and everyone from journalists to sport officials to young interns came to be made aware of this fact. No question was too arcane for Bob Paul, and people were constantly amazed about how much he knew about events dating to the earliest Olympic Games, and in such exquisite detail, that they would be forgiven for thinking that Bob was present at the first Olympics of the modern era . . . in 1896! Those who knew Bob knew that he had a penchant -- an obsession, really -- with getting the facts right. And he made it his mission to ferret out and correct mistakes about sport history, especially when assertions of fact made their way into print. He penned hundreds, if not thousands, of letters to writers and editors of publications wide and varied, and he spared no one; not even the vaunted New York Times. He did this not to create an air of superiority; rather, to Bob, it was important for journalists to "get it right." Coincidentally, all three men -- Samaranch, Greenspan, and Paul -- attended the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, which would be their last; but on that occasion Bob Paul was the senior man, a still lucid and articulate gentleman of 92. A recipient of the "Olympic Order," the IOC's highest award, Bob hardly mentioned this fact as he was humble and honorable throughout his professional career as he was in life. And that is a good measure of a man by any standard.