Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
L.A. Times' Mike Penner dead at age 52
by Mike Woitalla, November 30th, 2009 7AM



[OBITUARY] When I met Mike Penner in 1994 it was back when sports columnists from mainstream newspapers rarely wrote about soccer with respect and appreciation. Penner was part of the Los Angeles Times staff that, for a month during the glorious days of the USA-hosted World Cup, covered soccer to an extent that had never been seen before in a U.S. newspaper.

I didn't know Penner well, but I remember meeting him in the Rose Bowl press center, having conversations throughout the tournament, and sharing a few meals together. I liked that he asked for my opinions and I enjoyed sharing them with him, and I remember him being unnecessarily grateful.

The 1994 World Cup was a special time. It seemed like every American was a soccer fan that summer. The soccer-bashers of the mainstream press were replaced by writers like Penner, who played and loved the game. Penner acted like covering the World Cup was the greatest beat one could get.

I didn't keep in touch with Penner, but a few years back we exchanged e-mails. I don't recall the specifics, but I remember being very pleased that he still subscribed to Soccer America.

In 2007, I heard Penner doing a public radio interview shortly after he announced that he was transsexual. And of course I read his famous "coming-out" column: "Old Mike, New Christine."

Penner explained he would be writing under the byline "Christine Daniels," and in the column noted his passion for soccer:

"When I told Robert, the soccer-loving lad from Wales who cuts my hair, why I wanted to start growing my hair out, he had to take a seat, blink hard a few times and ask, 'Does this mean you don't like football anymore, Mike?'

"No, I had to assure him, I still love soccer. I will continue to watch it. I hope to continue to coach it.

"My days of playing in men's over-30 rec leagues, however, could be numbered.

"When I told Eric, who has played sweeper behind my plodding stopper for more than a decade, he brightly suggested, 'Well, you're still good for co-ed!'"

In October of 2008, he returned to using the Mike Penner byline.

On Nov. 27 of 2009, Penner, who also reported on the Olympics, the Angels, tennis and sports media for the Times, died at age 52.

The cause of death is suspected to be suicide, according to the LA Times' Web site.



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now



Recent Soccer America Daily
Klinsmann: 'This is about belief'    
Jurgen Klinsmann was not shy in explaining what he was looking for in his team that ...
U.S. Abroad: Williams scores after 15 seconds, Yedlin starts    
Danny Williams, who was called into the U.S. squad for the Concacaf Cup, needed only 15 ...
What They're Saying: Peter Vermes    
"I mean this with all due respect -- he picked those guys apart." -- Sporting KC ...
TV Report: All MLS playoff games will air nationally    
All MLS playoff matches will air on national television for the first time. The expanded playoffs ...
Video Pick: A big blunder by keeper Bernd Leno     
Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno made the most embarrassing blunder of the weekend in a 1-1 ...
U.S. Abroad: Danny Williams scores after 11 seconds    
Danny Williams, who was called into the U.S. squad for the Concacaf Cup, needed only 11 ...
USL: Los Dos knock off Orange County    
Ariel Lassiter scored both goals to lead LA Galaxy II to a 2-0 win over the ...
MLS Weekend: Timbers drop crushing home defeat    
Three days after winning the U.S. Open Cup, Sporting Kansas City traveled to Portland, where it ...
Three Takeaways from USA-Cuba Olympic qualifier     
The USA clinched a berth in the all-important semifinals of the Concacaf Olympic Qualifying Championship with ...
U.S. roster for Concacaf Cup    
Jurgen Klinsmann named his roster for the next Saturday's USA-Mexico game for the Concacaf Cup at ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives