[email protected]: Alan Black
Alan Black visits Google's San Francisco, CA office to discuss his book "Kick the Balls." This event took place on July 30, 2008, as part of the [email protected] series. When Alan Black was a child growing up in Glasgow, Scotland, soccer—or what he calledfitba'—was the be all and end all. His experience was not the little league, boys-of-summer stuff of modern America. For him, it was life and death. Now middleaged and living in California, Alan finds himself coaching a team of eight-year-olds in his beloved sport—and nothing is going right. For a start, the kids are no good at soccer. Secondly, they're pampered. Born and bred on the sport, Black's hardscrabble Scottish upbringing consisted of playing tough and victory at all costs. Needless to say, his coaching methods are a far cry from the "winning isn't everything" mentality his little leaguers have been reared with; and players and parents alike are shocked as Black attempts to transform the losing team through drills and bombast. Alone at night, watching evangelicals on TV, Black finds himself searching for some truth in the culture he finds so bizarre. And it's with the Tigers that he feels most out of sync—faced with a mix of soft suburban children, a raft of overprotective parents, and an Iranian co-coach called Ali. Told with Black's uproarious Scottish sensibility, Kick the Balls follows the abrasive, irreverent, and hilarious coach as he contends with a team that winds up with a zero-win record. Both a celebration of his own tough childhood and an account of one man's navigation of an alien culture, Kick the Balls will delight fans of well-told, laugh-out-loud memoirs.