Who Was Grant Wahl: The best sports journalists are those that go beyond what occurs on the field of play and offer perception into the social and political context in which sport is played. One such journalist, Grant Wahl, had a distinguished career covering many sporting events, individuals, and cutting-edge issues in sports and beyond. Early in his career, he covered a variety of sports, but as time passed, soccer became his main passion.
While tributes are flooding in and others are speculating about the circumstances of his demise, his death has shocked followers and supporters worldwide. The Indian Express examines Grant Wahl’s life, some of his most well-known pieces, his coverage of the World Cup in Qatar, and his heartbreaking, premature passing.
In 2002, Grant Wahl made his first impression on readers in the United States when he included a Sports Illustrated cover story about a young basketball prodigy from Akron, Ohio (SI). Although he had already won some praise from critics, most notably for a report titled Where’s Daddy (1998) about children born to professional athletes who were not their parents, his most recent reportage would have a significant impact on both his reputation and that of the athlete he covered. In 2002, Wahl referred to Lebron James as the “Chosen One,” arguably the best basketball player in history. Two decades later, many people are still in awe at Wahl’s level of comprehension and insight from the SI article.
For SI, Grant Wahl would pen up to 50 cover pieces, many of which were in-depth studies of the athlete or team he was covering. He wasn’t only concerned with the player’s abilities or game strategy. Wahl possessed a keen eye for things others would overlook and was more of a philosopher.
For instance, his debut book, The Beckham Experiment (2009), detailed the incredible transfer of Major League Soccer (MLS) star David Beckham from English sport. The book’s genius was in the way it connected smaller-scale structural difficulties in American soccer with personal experiences from Beckham and others close to him. Later, this book would become a New York Times bestseller.
U.S. Soccer Statement On The Passing Of Grant Wahl: pic.twitter.com/CBp1mCK1mQ
— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) December 10, 2022
He would cover a variety of sports, but his true passion was soccer. He was the foremost expert on the game for the American audience. He contributed significantly to the game’s development in the US to where it is today. At a time when nobody seemed interested, Wahl covered the US Women’s Team. At a time when the globe believed that the MLS was on the rise, he wrote about the league’s issues. He wasn’t cynical, but he viewed things as they were and wrote to improve them.
Covering The World Cup In Qatar
Off-field issues like corruption, labor exploitation and human rights violations have plagued the World Cup in Qatar for years. Many of these topics were explored by Wahl in his report on Qatar. He was very critical of the Qatari government in his writings. They don’t care. He remarked on December 9 about the death of a migrant worker during the competition. The World Cup organizers in Qatar don’t even try to hide their indifference to the fatalities of migrant workers. Despite not gaining him any admirers in the nation, his essays gave the globe a peek at the human cost of this World Cup. His brother claims that he received numerous death threats throughout the competition.
Image source: marca
In support of LGBTQ rights, Wahl donned a rainbow T-shirt to the United States World Cup opener against Wales on November 21. He would spend more than 25 minutes waiting outside the stadium after security asked him to take off his shirt and denied him access. The game was almost overshadowed by the image of Wahl being arrested while wearing a rainbow shirt. He had succeeded in making his point once more. One of his most popular articles on Substack would be the one that followed and described his detention.
The American Journalist Who Passed Away In Qatar Under Suspicious Circumstances?
Grant Wahl tweeted throughout the Argentina-Netherlands game, and his final message was sent following the Netherlands’ goal that tied the score late in the second half. He commented, “Just a fantastic set-piece goal by the Netherlands.” He would pass out during an extra time of the game while still in the audience, and paramedics would be helpless to save him. A Qatari hospital declared him dead on Saturday morning, shocking the football community.
Both the MLS and the USMNT issued statements. “Any time his name would come up, I’ll always think back to me as a teenager having Grant Wahl in our building down at St. V’s,” LeBron James said in a somber post-game press conference. This loss is tragic. It is regrettable to lose someone of his caliber. The best to his family, please. May he find eternal peace.
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Numerous rumors of foul play have been spread on social media due to the circumstances surrounding his death, the threats he received, and the subject of his work. By stating, “My name is Eric Wahl, on Instagram, I’ve added further fuel to this rumor. In Seattle, Washington, I reside. I am the brother of Grant Wahl. I’m gay. He wore the rainbow shirt to the World Cup because of me. My brother had a good life. He claimed to have received threats to his life. I don’t think my brother just passed away. I believe he was murdered. I plead for any assistance.
Grant Wahl, though, had not been coping well. Wahl said earlier this week, “My body finally gave out on me. You can get that after three weeks of little sleep, intense stress, and hard labor. On the eve of the USA-Netherlands game, a cold that had been mild for the previous ten days became much worse, and I could feel the pressure building in my upper chest. After a round of antibiotics, he performed better, and his Covid-19 test returned negative.