Brian Blickenstaff

Writer | Editor

Looking back at 2015

What a year! 2015 was easily my best, most productive year as a writer. Here are the highlights.


I got things rolling in January with a story about Daniel Engelbrecht, a soccer player who almost died on the field due to a heart condition. He thought he would never play again, but after several surgeries and an implanted defibrillator, he made his comeback—and even scored. This was the first big story I ever reported in German.


I had more fun writing my story about Egil Ellis, the greatest sprint dog sledder of all time, than anything else I wrote in 2015. I learned that dogs are amazing. I couldn’t have done it without a couple American filmmakers who were gracious enough to introduce me to everyone I needed to know in order to write what became my favorite story of the year. I’m looking forward to their documentary.


I wrote several stories about technology and sports. Both my story on how injuries are changing in professional soccer and on how psychologists are trying to get players to think faster were fascinating to report.


Another topic I focused on was youth development in soccer. My story on Double Pass, a Belgian company hired by U.S. Soccer to help revamp U.S. Soccer’s developmental structure was my biggest scoop of the year.


My longest story was about the life of Julius Hirsch, a Jewish-German national team star who fought for Germany in World War I before being murdered in the Holocaust. The German Football Association now gives out an annual award in Hirsch’s name for work done to promote tolerance and inclusion in German soccer. This story was translated into at least four languages.


I spent more time reporting my story on Sportradar than I did anything else this year. The story was also probably my biggest success. Sportradar is a company that looks at how betting odds move for signs a game might be fixed. (The company does a lot of other things, too.) My story goes behind the scenes of one of the company's biggest successes in its fight against match-fixing.


The best piece I wrote was also the last thing I published in 2015: my story about Sepp Blatter’s home town. It was a real challenge. I went in with nothing. But I came away with a different understanding of Blatter, who is probably 2015’s most hated sports figure. I feel like this story was a big step forward for me. I hope it was, anyway.


Thanks so much for reading!


Here’s to things to come in 2016.


© 2014 Brian Blickenstaff

All Images courtesy of Tom Sekula.