Category Archives: Sports

It’s Different for Some People

Nice shirts!

I noticed that the story about the UCLA jocks who were arrested for shoplifting in China disappeared pretty quickly. Some stories stay on the Internet news sites as “Breaking News” for weeks, but not this one.

I wonder why.

You had to love the press conference that was arranged for their public apology where they were all wearing matching UnderArmour shirts with the UCLA logo.

Do you think they all might have stopped to buy those shirts together at the campus bookstore? I’m not saying the company gave them to the school, who then gave them to the ball players. But, then again . . . .

What if, instead of jocks, this incident had involved science, technology, engineering and mathematics students? Would the President have gone to the Chinese leader and asked for them to be released?

Silly question:

  1. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba would never invite boring science, technology, engineering, and mathematics students for an all-expense paid trip to China.
  2. Those are the kind of people who know that it’s wrong to steal sunglasses from anybody on any continent for any reason.

Football In the Future

Football Hall of Fame Re-opens

Newly remodeled Football Hall of Remembrance opens to celebrate Traumatic Brain Injury.

SATIRE AFFILIATED PRESS
CANTON, OHIO 11 September 2035

Although American style football has been banned, the Football Hall of Remembrance—formerly the Football Hall of Fame—is still a popular tourist attraction. It’s remodeling was recently completed and the familiar football roof is now surmounted by an artist’s conception of traumatic brain injury. Over the front door, the entryway features a bronze relief of a player being carted off the field after, as they used to say, “Having his bell rung.”

While the exhibits still include trophies, helmets, jerseys, and other game paraphernalia, it’s the preserved brain tissue and MRI scans that are today’s favorite. Visitors can view the pathology, then try to guess to which famous player the brain once belonged. Pressing a touch screen, the player’s name, teams, scores, and number of concussions is displayed. Original plans included videos of interviews with former players, but many could no longer communicate, being content to babble incoherently, or stop mid-sentence with, “What did you just ask me?”

Taking a page from big tobacco’s playbook, the industry insisted for years that football was not dangerous; eventually there were too many injuries at the high school, university, and professional levels to ignore. Professional teams found that medical insurance costs exceeded revenues—even if the revenue from sale of team products like hats and jerseys are included. With the profits gone, most owners took their investments elsewhere. Unfortunately, this left many cities with substantial debt for stadiums they built. Many are crumbling and have been condemned because of the degree of deterioration; there’s reason to repair them and no money to tear them down. Universities initially expected a huge financial crisis, but found that the sport had actually not been a money maker, in terms of real cash, but a huge annual loss. Without football many universities were able to improve facilities and pay teachers better.

Football, is gone, but not forgotten—except by those who played the game and had their bells rung too many times.

No Pretty Pictures

I often wish that my blogs would lend themselves to more pictures. I’m not a bad photographer, and some blogs are full of sunsets, beach scenes, Grand Lake up in the Rockies, or whatever. Mine—not so much.

I’ve been going through some physical therapy for some old injuries. The therapy has actually worked better than a variety of drugs that have been prescribed in the past. However, for it to work, I need to be consistent in my follow through. It struck me, that if there’s a common theme in life, that’s it.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

Practice! Practice! Practice!

It’s true of music, physical fitness, painting, even math or science. (Do YOU remember how to solve a quadratic equation? We all learned how in high school.)

Calvin Coolidge was not one of our more noteworthy presidents, being known as “Silent Cal.” However, he did leave us with a great thought:

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

Calvin Coolidge
30th president of US (1872 – 1933)

Practice! Practice! Practice!

Soccer Explained (More or Less)

SONY DSC

The State of Soccer

It was a soccer tournament weekend, and I either learned, or figured out some things about soccer.

First, there should be no surprise as to the charges of corruption aimed at the FIFA—the International Federation of Association Football (French: Fédération Internationale de Football Associatione).

Soccer is the most capricious and arbitrary sport known to man.

The laws of the game, like federal, state, and local laws are poorly understood, which leaves room for officials at the game to interpret them any way they please. There is no requirement to be consistent, so the rules can be applied differently on different occasions, for different teams, or because the referee just felt like it. Even at the professional level, there is no review of the instant replay, because between 97.5 percent and 99 percent of all soccer calls are wrong. This means that it would be physically impossible to ever complete even a single game—it would be call, review, change, call, review, change.

Theoretically, soccer games are played for a set period of time. Adults play for two 45 minute halves, with younger players having shorter time periods. However, at tournaments, to keep things on schedule, the halves are shortened, usually to 30 minutes. There are no timeouts; if a player is injured, referees can add time at the end, if they feel like it—or not.

This particular tournament had 30 minute halves for the first game. The second game had a 35 minute first half, and a 38 ½ minute second half. I’m not sure if this is related to Einstein’s theory (Five minutes with a pretty girl passes faster than five minutes sitting on a hot stove) or because the referees had cheap watches. In any case, the flow of time was fluid throughout the entire event.

Finally, when the home team was playing, the visitors were awarded copious penalties, including five yellow cards and two red cards. The home team was not so harshly judged.

So there you have it:

  • Rules no one thoroughly understands
  • No oversight for those enforcing the rules
  • An enthusiasm for randomness
  • A casual relationship with time
  • A new meaning for the term “Home Field Advantage”

Now you know why it’s the world’s most popular sport.

Soccer Tournament Weekend

SONY DSC

If you’re a new parent, or expect to be a parent someday, here is some information you will need.

In America kids play soccer. In the rest of the world, kids play football, sometimes called futbol. They’re all the same.

Don’t confuse this with American football. American football players, each wear more protective gear than an entire Marine battalion in combat; they “play” for about 15 seconds by banging into one another, usually ending up in a pile on the ground. After that there’s a three minute pause while officials take measurements and the teams reposition themselves for the next play. If it’s professional, college, or whatever and televised add several additional minutes for advertisements. The football is occasionally kicked, but more often it is thrown by hand.

American football players are generally from America, often recruited from American colleges where they played as highly paid amateurs. After playing American football for a few years, most players suffer enough head trauma so as to forget whatever they learned in college, the fact that they ever went to college, and the fact that they aren’t supposed to drool.

American football is divided into four quarters, each of which lasts 15 minutes, but the timer is stopped at the end of certain plays, when a team calls for a time out, for station identification and commercials, or for review of instant replays. The last five minutes of the fourth quarter usually lasts several hours.

In soccer, the players also wear protective gear—shin guards. The game is divided into two halves; for adults, each half lasts 45 minutes. The players play for the entire half, running approximately 250 miles during the average game. Except in cases of extremely serious injury (e.g. missing limb, sucking chest wound), the halves last 45 minutes. In case of rain, snow, or extreme heat, the halves last 45 minutes. Lightning is the one exception; lightning strikes tend to take out entire teams, the spectators, and tend to ruin the expensive soccer balls.

Professional soccer players are international—this means that they are not necessarily from the country where they play soccer. They may not speak the local language, or even knew that the football club, city, or country where they play existed before arriving. Because of such issues, hand signals are used for official rulings and severe penalties are communicated by colored cards. Yellow means, “You better watch it, Bub.” Red means “Yer outta here, and your team can’t send in a substitute.”

Most American kids do play soccer but don’t go on to play professional soccer the way their American football counterparts do. Professional soccer is not as profitable because after supporting children’s soccer, soccer parents cannot afford to attend professional sports matches or live in decent neighborhoods. In fact, if soccer uniforms, travel, and gas for the car were allowed to be deducted for tax purposes, most soccer families would qualify for food stamps.

But if their kids go to college, they’ll remember that they went, and much of what they learned, even if that material in Economics 101 evaporated shortly after the final exam was completed.

Personal to Mick Jagger

Mick,

You may be out there on stage bopping with the best of them. However, that song, Time Is On My Side? You may have spoken a few decades prematurely.

 

 

 

 

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 12:  Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones perform live at Allphones Arena on November 12, 2014 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 12: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones perform live at Allphones Arena on November 12, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

This past weekend was what some call a “soccer weekend.” Others call it a “Crime against Humanity” prohibited by the Geneva Convention. Why do I say this?

First, no matter how much you love soccer, until they make disposable soccer (excuse “football”)  shoes (excuse me “boots”) there are flaws in the system. Soccer is unlike baseball where teams take turns and the speed of play is determined by the pitcher. Some compare it to American football in which there’s a play lasting less than a minute, followed by a period of rearranging.

Soccer is played in halves, which depending on age last anywhere from thirty minutes to forty-eight hours, depending on age. (Those age groups that involve walkers take considerably longer and are regularly interrupted by cardiac emergencies).   There are no time-outs in soccer unless there is a significant injury to a player–and I mean there better be pulsating arterial blood or fixed and dilated pupils.

Now, take roughly a dozen teenagers, who already exude vast quantities of eau de hormone, and have them play three or four games WITHOUT BENEFIT OF A WASHING MACHINE!

Just as no good deed goes unpunished, evil people seek opportunities. With soccer, it was like Khan in Star Trek,  quoting from Moby Dick . “From hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.  When you are exhausted and the calendar predicts  a three day weekend, a soccer tournament I send unto thee…”

Mick,years ago I tried to face such things with at least a modicum of grace and acknowledge, “Well, I’m not twenty anymore.”

It’s not a large a leap to, “…not thirty anymore.” But now, when I have to say, “I’m not sixty anymore,” let’s just say that time may not be on my side.

However, while you’re preparing for your next tour, I’ve made it home. My son’s team placed second, and life is good.

Even if I’m not sixty any more.

 

 

It’s NOT Speed-dating!

The Persistence of Memory Salvador Dali (and his mustache) Courtesy about.com

The Persistence of Memory
Salvador Dali (and his mustache)
Courtesy about.com

Fortunately, I’m past those that deal with dating, on-and-off relationships, and other unsure bets. I am the embodiment of the line from When Harry Met Sally, “Promise me I’ll never be out there again.”

Especially given some of the strange rituals that accompany the process these days. Speed-dating? Really?

Apparently you sit with a person of whichever sex interests you for a very brief period of time—as in minutes—and try to learn enough about the other person to determine if he or she might be worth more time (apparently if that other person has the same opinion of you).

Imagine my horror when I realized that having two teenagers at home is just like speed-dating my wife. We have five minutes in the morning before we each head in different directions.

“When did you say Katie’s trip was?”

“Did I hear something about a soccer tournament for Adam?”

“I’ll have to get back to you on that.”

“Wait, did you pay the credit card bill?”

“Call me.”

“No you call me, maybe we can do lunch.”

I’m going to go down to the office supply store and get a couple of those “Hello, My name is:” stickers, and a letter of introduction from some high and lofty personage, and see if that….

Ooops, sorry, gotta run.