Last week, the National Soccer Hall of Fame announced that Grant Wahl ’96 will be given the 2023 Colin Jose Media Award. Named after the Hall’s historian emeritus, the honor is bestowed upon “journalists whose careers have made significant long-term contributions to soccer in the United States,” per the Hall’s press release.
Wahl covered soccer for Sports Illustrated (SI) for over two decades before leaving the company in 2021 and pursuing a career as a writer on Substack. He passed in December 2022 of an ascending aortic aneurysm while covering the FIFA Men’s World Cup in Qatar.
After graduating from Princeton, where he served as a sports editor and writer for The Daily Princetonian, Wahl briefly interned for The Miami Herald before joining SI as a fact-checker. He gained notoriety in the early 2000s for a number of popular stories, including a 2002 cover story about LeBron James, who was a high school basketball phenom at the time. Wahl also covered his first Men’s FIFA World Cup for SI in France in 1998 and did not miss one for the rest of his life.
“During his legendary career, Wahl was an ubiquitous presence at World Cups, Women’s World Cups and Olympics, providing a passionate, unique perspective on the sport at its highest levels,” the Hall press release read.
Wahl made the switch to covering soccer full-time for SI in advance of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He was noted for his tremendous influence on the growth of the game in America, as well as for his attention to pervasive inequalities and discrimination in the sport. Indeed, Wahl attentively covered the U.S. Women’s National Team’s quest for equal pay and reported on the human rights abuses taking place in Qatar during this past year’s World Cup.
“I think there’s one individual that is credited with the growth and popularity of soccer in the United States,” said Chris Long ’97, one of the owners of National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) club Kansas City Current. “It’s Grant Wahl.”
“He was a force for good in both our sport and our society,” added Jim Barlow ’91, head coach of Princeton’s men’s soccer team, shortly after Wahl’s passing.
Wahl will be given the award posthumously at this year’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony on May 6 in Frisco, Texas.
Wilson Conn is a head editor for the sports section at the ‘Prince.’ Please direct any corrections requests to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.