Archive for the ‘Sports’ category

What was I saying?

February 27, 2012

Why is it that I can’t think of any of the wonderful topics to write about that popped into my head last week? You see, I have this problem. I used to think it was “ADD” (short attention span – thus forgetfulness). Now, I’ve come to realize that it’s called “being human”.

I’m pretty sure I had no intention of writing about the Academy Awards, since I didn’t watch them. Based on the comments I’ve seen on facebook, Angelina Jolie needs to eat something, Jennifer Lopez needs to cover up a little bit better, and the Academy gave the middle finger to sound technicians everywhere by giving best picture to a silent movie.

I know I feel that everyone should go to Rev. Bugg’s Sunday School class about why we worship the way we do, but I don’t think the people who read this blog are the ones who need to be concerned with it.

Jeremy Lin is still playing basketball, and ESPN realized the “chink” is not just part of a common sports analogy but also a highly offensive racial slur.

I helped a friend paint her bathroom, put up a mirror, and remove an old sink cabinet. In the process, the mirror fell from the wall and a water pipe broke. I was not responsible for either, although I did act like the Dutch boy for about five minutes.

I’ve dated as many woman in the past five months as I had in the previous five years. Hopefully, that’s a trend that will balance out soon.

I watched Love Letters at ACTC on Sunday. Yeah. That one will do. Expect a post on Love Letters sometime today!

World Cup 2010: Part 3

July 15, 2010

I still haven’t gotten used to not watching soccer and hearing vuvuzelas constantly.  I have also not downloaded the vuvuzela app for my iTouch yet.  I went out to dinner and to listen to jazz at one of the local hotels on Tuesday.  Afterward, I was walking back through the lobby and noticed there was a US women’s (WNT) match on.  I almost sat down on the couch to watch.  I then realized it was after 10, and I was going to have a very long day ahead of me the next day.

It’s a little bit funny how a tournament for a sport that so (relatively) few people here care about can be so huge, only to have the sport fall back into obscurity again within days of it ending.  All the sporting news is about LeBron James’ media circus.  Professional basketball – Now there’s a sport that I only get into during tournament time, and even then, only slightly.  I’ll take my Wildcats and college basketball any day.  But until UK hits the hardwood – or even the gridiron – I’ll mourn the loss of good, televised, cared-about soccer.

World Cup 2010: Part 2

June 13, 2010

The excitement of the World Cup has started.  Okay.  In actuality, Americans for the most part just don’t care, and they won’t unless America makes it into the last few rounds.  At that point, Americans will care only as long as the US squad remains in the tournament.  For the rest of the world, World Cup fever has been burning for quite some time.  England has been looking forward to it since the end of Premier League play and probably longer.  It wasn’t until this week that the American ambassador in London got in on it though.  I think Dave Barry can explain those sentiments much more accurately and humorously than I can.  America’s uncaring attitude is probably the biggest obstacle there is to the World Cup being held in the United States in either 2018 or 2022.  (The US has bids in for both tournaments, and FIFA – Federation Internationale de Football Association – will announce its decision for both contests on December 2 of this year.)  Then again, the US hosted World Cup and Women’s World Cup of 1994 and 1995, respectively, set FIFA records for attendance and revenue, so America hosting the games again soon may not be out of the question.

I seem to have digressed severely from what I had intended to say, which is that the games have started in exhilarating fashion for the US team – namely, a 1-1 tie against England’s Three Lions.  Isn’t that a great nickname?  Three Lions.  Of course, they are so named because the crest of the national team is the crest of Richard I.  Some of the other great names of teams in the tournament are Australia’s Socceroos and Greece’s To Piratiko (The Pirate Ship).  Host South Africa’s team is called Bafana Bafana, meaning The Boys.  The US team’s last match in group play will be against Algeria’s Les Fennecs or The Desert Foxes.  And who will they be facing?  USA’s MNT.  That stands for Men’s National Team.  Granted, Germany’s team is known as National Mannschaft or National Team, so we aren’t the only ones with a bad nickname.  I suppose it could be worse though.  A British commentator referred to the team as The Minnows on ESPN this week.  There’s another argument that the US doesn’t have enough soccer history or commonality among its land and people to have a good nickname, which may well be true.  With any luck though, we’ll someday be known as the Lion Slayers.  In the mean time, I suppose we won’t be looking forward to a beer summit in London this year, but at least the British ambassador won’t be treated to his rare steak!

Game on!

World Cup 2010

June 8, 2010

Steve Jobs ran into some problems trying to present the new iPhone 4.  It seems when he tried to connect to the WiFi network in the presentation hall, his iPhone wouldn’t connect.  He then asked the blogging reporters to disconnect from the network so he could get on it.  That only met with laughter.  Jobs’ next course of action was to connect the AT&T’s 3G network, except he couldn’t get signal for that either.  –  I’m glad to know I’m not the only person who’s had problems with AT&T’s wireless network lately! – Jobs finally gave up and showed screen shots he had saved for the presentation.  Don’t feel bad Steve.  The WiFi reception on my iTouch sucks, too.  Maybe if they made an Android MP3 player, that would solve my problem.

In other news of un-success, New Zealand’s All Whites football (soccer) team was eager to hit their practice field immediately after stepping off the plane in South Africa.  The smog on the field was so bad that the team had difficulty even seeing the corner flags.  Two of the players only lasted minutes before having to use inhalers to relieve their asthma.  The locals could not understand why the practice session was brought to an early conclusion.

The World Cup is now just days away.  Nike has had out its epic World Cup commercial for weeks.  It features Wayne Rooney, Christiano Ronaldo, and Didier Drogba, who broke his arm last week but had surgery and is still probable to make an appearance by the end of the tournament  should the Ivory Coast manage to win without him for a few games – I thought hockey players were touch! – as well as cameos by Kobe Bryant, Homer Simpson and Roger Federer.  Drogba’s injury is only the latest in a rash of recent injuries among the elite of the sport.  The most notable of the players missing the World Cup is LA Galaxy and AC Milan midfielder David Beckham, who required surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon.  Other major contributers missing from the field will include German captain Michael Ballack and goalkeeper Rene Adler,  Michael Essein of Ghana and England’s Rio Ferdinand.  Brazil’s Julio Cesar could see limited action in goal during the tournament.  While some of these injuries, like Drogba’s, are a risk of playing the game, most are wear-and-tear injuries, coming after many of these players have gone over two years without an off-season, due to club play and World Cup qualifiers.

Players aren’t the only ones getting injured.  FIFA gave away thousands of free tickets to a friendly between North Korea and Nigeria on Sunday.  There was a stampede to get into the match, and at least 20 people were injured after being trampled.  FIFA took no responsibility for the security at the match, but it ensures matches will be safe once the tournament starts.

That’s what I am really excited about.  The US plays England on Saturday afternoon.  Hopefully, I’ll be home to watch it, because I might not be able to keep updated if I can’t find a WiFi network on my iTouch.

Dirty Weekend

March 8, 2010

I was sure when I woke up this morning that I would hear about the Academy Awards on the radio, even ESPN Radio.  Instead as I sat down to breakfast, I heard Mike and Mike talking about Big Ben.  It turns out it was not a good weekend to be a PittsburgH sports fan.

The first thing I heard was that Steelers’ quarterback Ben Rothlisberger was being investigated for sexual assault again.  At first I thought they might be reopening the Colorado case, but it turns out it was in Georgia this time.  Despite not being particularly fond of the Steelers or people who ride motorcycles without helmets, I remember backing Big Ben* when the Colorado case came along.  The information released about it said the case had no evidence.  I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt in an innocent-until-proven-guilty kind of way, especially since it was the first time I had heard anything bad about his behavior, aside from the helmet thing.  It was also just over a year after charges were dropped in the Duke lacrosse case.**  Now Ben’s in a similar situation to before.  This time, the accusation is sexual assault and not rape, but it’s still a sex crime.  The accuser went to the hospital and then the police that night – instead of waiting a year and filing a civil suit without reporting it to the police – so there should be evidence this time if it did happen.  It’s possible that Big Ben is just an idiot for being a high-profile figure who gets himself into situations where he can be accused of sex crimes, but it’s starting to look more like he’s scum.  I’ll hold out on making a final judgment until the case develops though.

The other bit of news out of PittsburgH’s sporting establishment involves a hit – video embedded in linked story – during a Penguins-Bruins game.  I’ve heard a couple of people say it was a clean hit that resulted in the need for a stretcher for the Bruin.  I’ve heard a lot more say it was illegal.  After seeing the hit a number of times, I don’t think it was an illegal hit, but it was far from being clean.  The tell-tale of an illegal hit to the head would be lifting the elbow.  Matt Cooke clearly hit Marc Savard with his upper arm and shoulder.  Although the hit was legal, Cooke eyed his way right to Savard’s head when Savard was looking towards the goal and could not see Cooke coming.  He even leaned his body to follow through with the hit.  Had he skated a foot to his left, it would have been body-on-body contact, still legal, and there would be no debate today.  Instead Cooke aimed for the head, which I believe is one of the dirtiest plays in hockey, even if it’s not always illegal.  Given Cooke’s two previous suspensions for dirty hits, I feel he intended the hit he laid on Savard.  The NHL is not above suspending or fining players for dirty-but-not-illegal hits under professional conduct clauses in contracts.  They’ve done it before, and I believe they should this time as well.  Meanwhile, while the owners are trying to figure out ways to increase scoring at the next meeting, they should take a minute to come up with a rule banning blind side hits to the head.  The NHLPA would have a hard time with public relations if they tried stopping that rule from passing after Cooke’s hit.

In a bit of dirty play not involving PittsburgH, Carl Edwards did exactly what everybody was led to believe was being encouraged.  In January, NASCAR’s VP of Competition infamously told drivers “Boys, have at it,” after saying NASCAR was loosing its rules regarding contact between cars.  It was widely understood that what Robin Pemberton was saying was that bump drafting was being allowed again and that trading paint would be encouraged to make racing more exciting.  Carl Edwards did precisely what everybody thought was being encouraged and with dramatic results.  Brad Keselowski was involved in a wreck that sent Edwards to the garage and 100 laps down in the race.  Edwards came back onto the track near the end of the race, took aim at Keselowski’s car, and gave him a bump that sent him airborne.  After the race, Edwards said, “Brad knows the deal between him and I… The scary part is that his car went airborne, which is not at all what I expected.”  He later clarified on facebook that the hit was intentional but that he only intended to send a message to Keselowski, not send him into the sky.  Keselowski, who is no stranger to causing wrecks, suggested, after he regained his senses, that NASCAR needs to reign in the hitting.

*I hate typing his last name.  In fact, I’m sure that’s how he got his nickname to begin with.
**That is probably the only time I will feel bad for anybody associated with Duke University.

skiing

March 2, 2010

This past weekend was the annual church ski trip.  While the original plan was to ski West Virginia, we had to make a slight change Friday night when I called the hotel and they informed me that we would not be able to get there.  Instead we left about three hours later than we had intended and in the opposite direction.  “What can possibly be in the opposite direction of West Virginia for skiing?  Surely you didn’t go all the way to Aspen, did you?”  Yeah.  I know that’s what you’re thinking, but that wouldn’t be at all close.  Instead we went to Paoli Peaks in Indiana.  Okay, so it wasn’t really a “mountain” that we were skiing on so much as a steep hill.  Nevertheless, it was fun:  Arriving at our hotel at 3:30 in the morning.  Hitting the slopes around 10:30 or 11.  Going back for night skiing until 3 in the morning.  Going skiing again the next day at noon.  Taking off back home in the afternoon and having to make multiple potty breaks.

Actually, those were pretty much the only negative things from the trip, which is surprising considering how fast Plan B was developed and put into action.  It was the first trip to Indiana for most of the kids, and they were amazed at how flat it was.  I never broke it to them that we were actually in one of the hillier regions of the state.  Everybody had a blast skiing and snowboarding.  In fact, I was even talked into giving snowboarding a try on Sunday instead of running the black diamonds on skis.  As I like to say after a trip, “We came back with everybody.  No broken bones or hospital visits.  The trip was a success!”

Here are some pictures from the trip.

Our motley crew of skiers and snowboarders.

Saturday while skiing.

My first time snowboarding.

Okay.  I admit.  The last two aren’t actually me.  I don’t actually like to leave the ground when I’m playing in the snow.

no dog in that fight*

February 24, 2010

I came across two news stories yesterday that I was interested in.  One of them is local, one is most definitely not.  Neither directly affects my life, but I still feel that I want to weigh-in on them.

Crabbe Elementary School

One of the local school districts is considering closing one of its elementary schools.  The idea of closing an elementary school and consolidating it with another is not uncommon.  I am in no way against consolidating schools.  While it may not save the district money in the way of teachers’ salaries, it can potentially save a lot of money in the areas of administrative and staff salaries.  This would allow more money to be spent on the education of children.  It also allows for more pooling of resources and supplies to meet the needs of teachers and students and enhance student learning, and we all know that students need a good learning.  The closed school would also provide a location for the district central office, district preschool and district central school to move that would not be a trailer or the money pit in which they are currently residing.

Now that I’ve listed all the reasons that closing a school is good, I’d like to address why they are making an awful suggestion to go about doing it.  The problem is their choice of schools.  The original plan had been to close Hatcher Elementary, which is the smallest school in the district but is one of the outlying schools of the district.  There were protests, as one might expect about that proposition.  The district’s local planning committee very recently changed directions and decided Crabbe Elementary would be a better choice of schools to close.  Crabbe’s student body has been dropping recently.  When it comes to school size, it is in the middle in the district.  Crabbe’s best feature is perhaps the school’s location.  It is the only school downtown, which makes it the only school where a high percentage of students can actually walk safely to school.  It is located in the city park and next to the main branch of the county library.  Crabbe is also a mile and a half from the nearest other elementary school in the district.

Since the sudden change in plans, there has been the expected protest.  In fact, the protest was so great that the committee has postponed making a final decision, which was expected to be made this past Monday.  While it is easy to just say that the district should not close the school, I would offer an alternative proposition.  If a school needs to be closed to make room for the district administration and preschool, a better choice would be Poage Elementary School.  Poage is the second smallest school in the district.  It is near the center of the district and located just half a mile from the closest other elementary school.  The students in the school’s area could easily be distributed to three other district elementary schools without greatly increasing the distance from their homes.  The biggest downside to this plan would be that the district offices would no longer be downtown.  I’m not saying that’s the only solution or even the best solution, but I did want to throw it out there.

University of Mississippi

The other matter is the suggestion to change the mascot at Ole Miss.  The university dropped Colonel Reb as its mascot in 2003 in the somewhat justifiable name of being unoffensive**.  Colonel Reb was an elderly southern gentleman.  Although he is no longer on the sidelines and courts, he can still be seen in the stands and on various university products.  The reason I say the the removal of the mascot was somewhat justified is because I acknowledge that the idea of an antebellum southern gentleman is widely viewed as a plantation owner, who would by necessity own slaves.  Personally, I consider a southern antebellum gentleman to be someone who stands for honor, respect for others, hospitality and all the other positive views of such a figure that were held in the 1930s when Colonel Reb first appeared.  I believe this is also how the university intended him to be viewed.  Having such a figure on campus can be nowhere near as offensive as the school flying the state flag, which contains the most widely-known Confederate battle flag,** on campus.  Yesterday the school allowed the student body to vote on creating a new mascot, possibly a Colonial rebel or a cardinal in honor of a student organization, or to have no mascot at all.  The students went against most predictions and voted to find a new mascot instead of being the only SEC school without one.  I was hoping they’d vote for no new mascot as a protest, but if they are wanting to get a new mascot, I think a higher rank is in order.

*In choosing this title, I in no way condone Michael Vick’s past behavior.
**I am also a supporter of this Confederate battle flag when it is not being used for terroristic purposes, but that is another issue for another entry.