Burying Hambino

I am only writing this article because Hambino bitched and moaned about me burying his mock draft post with something entertaining.  And because of that I decided to bury it with another article.  So, suck it.

While we’re at it Hambino continually calls me a glory hunter and how much better my life is as a sports fan is than his.  But let’s face it.  I would rather win championships than be a better team most years.  Who the hell cares if the last five years the Redskins have been better than the Buccaneers.  I can’t remember a Redskins Super Bowl yet he can remember a Bucs.  We’ve agreed on this point many times but for some reason he continually ignores it because the fact doesn’t validate his argument.  Typical Hambino with his alternative facts.  Let’s lay it out on the line here.  He may not be a die-hard just how I am not for some of these teams but here it is on the line.

He’s a Swansea fan, which granted sucks.  Being a Chelsea fan is fantastic compared to that joke of a club.  We’ve already covered the football route so he wins there.  Baseball he’s at least got to see the Rays go to a series while my Orioles can’t seem to make it past the ALDS.  Same argument holds up in Basketball.  The Wizards are finally good enough to run right into Lebron James at the height of his game while he’s seen his Magic get to a final.  Oh, and don’t get me started on my ever-disappointing heartbreak that is the Washington Capitals.

In summation, Hambino stop your bitching about how I am such a glory hunter.  I would rather watch anxiety free a terrible team with no chance punctuated by Championships than this continual mediocrity and heartbreak that is my sporting life.  At least we can both agree on the Noles and USMNT.  

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Event Organizers Need a Wake Up Call

The world sits with baited breath waiting for the most expensive Winter imageOlympics to commence in just a few days. In true Olympic spirit, the world’s countries have put aside war, famine and genocide to come together and celebrate expression threw sport. Not all is well in Sochi though, and many world officials stand on notice. While no event will ever be completely void of their terrorism threats, the question still begs to be asked. Why locate a high profile event only 250 miles away from one of the most active terrorism zones in the world? To be fair the Olympic Committee has done an excellent job in previous years finding friendlier venues then their FIFA counterparts. Additionally, the biggest attack on the modern Olympics occurred here on US soil. But still why do Organizers tempt fate?

imageLet’s take a step back and look at another bone headed decision made by a different organization that is risky in its own way. The NFL has broke its tradition of hosting Super Bowls in either warm or domb climates this February and instead will host its annual event in New York City. New York City is an amazing place, but not in February. This decision leads me to believe that the Super Bowl organizers have never been to the Big Apple during the winter. It’s cold and miserable. While I certainly don’t want anyone’s Super Bowl experience to be ruined, it is going to take an epic collapse to prevent such a stupid decision from ever being made again. And no I am not even talking about the quality of the game, which will be almost ruined if a blizzard hits. The concern should be is if a blizzard hits a day or 2 before the game and the airports shut down, forcing 100s of people to miss a game they’ve spent 1000s of dollars on. Or that public transport is shut down because of a storm during the game, stranding 1000s of people in New Jersey. Apparently no one thought of that though. The only more preposterous organizational decision is Budlights’s current marketing ploy. NO ONE WANTS TO SPEND FEBRUARY IN NEW YORK ON A CRUISE SHIP.

The NFL is made to look like geniuses by the mind boggling decision by the NHL to play an outdoor hockey game in LA. While the event lacks the transportation concerns that the Super Bowl faces, the NHL does seem to have overlooked one big crucial factor. People move to LA because it is warm and water at those temperatures no longer bothers itself to remain in its solid form. I was at the Pittsburg Winter Classic when it was 50 and rainy and they barely got that one off. The delay cost observers (ourselves included) 100s of additional dollars on expensive hotel rooms. That wasn’t a good enough lesson for the NHL though and hey maybe next year we can get one in Phoenix or Miami.

Both of the previous examples pale in comparison to the recent decisions made world-cup-arena-brazil-brasil-stadium-new-2014-fifajpg-83ffc9ff9a027a3a_largeby FIFA and its subsidiaries. The last World Cup was hosted in South Africa in order to help promote the game across the planet. While South Africa is a beautiful country and is home to many outstanding people, FIFA definitely took a risk. South Africa holds the title to the highest murder rate per capita then any Westernized nation. Luckily for FIFA, the native population saw the World Cup as a godsend and tried to show the world how amazing their country was. FIFA will not have the same luxury this year. Many residents of the greatest soccer country in the world have realized the toll that these large events put on its people. Local soccer matches, as well as last years Confederation Cup, have been protested against across Brazil. Many of these protests have unfortunately turned violent. I am willing to forgive FIFA though, since when the World Cup was announced in Brazil many celebrated the fact. Their next decision was just dumb though.

Fifa-World-Cup-2014-BrazilWhile all the events in this article so far will take place in the next six months, the event that confuses me the most will take place in 2022. FIFA has decided to host a World Cup in the Middle East, which I really don’t have an issue with. There are 2 things though that leave me vigorously shaking my head. The selection of Qatar as a location for the World’s most prestigious football tournament was due to one factor. It wasn’t growing the game. If that was the case Iran or Saudi Arabia, the countries with better footballing traditions, would’ve been selected. In fact, Qatar’s footballing traditions are almost completely non existent. No, this was done because of the money that Qatar threw around. And they threw around a lot. They even convinced the world they would be able to construct these massive stadiums that could be air conditioned to a point that would make the 120 degree external temperature tolerable for the players. Well they have now failed, prompting FIFA into trying to force the World’s soccer organizations into changing their schedules so the traditional summer tournament can be hosted during the winter. Combine that with the reports of slave labor used to build all the new stadiums and hotels, and you have a recipe for disaster.

I appreciate that each of these organizations, or at least some people in them, are trying to broaden the horizons of the game. However, I don’t buy it. The whole thing reeks. It seems that money now outweighs sense.

No matter where you put an event there are going to be issues. No large scale event is ever out of the scope of terrorist who wish to make their mark. All areas of the world are plagued by their own weather related issues. And yes even in the wealthiest of nations, protests can turn violent. However, minimizing the risks of an event should be a priority for organizers. Not only do they put athletes in a disposition or worse in danger, they also sacrifice the security of the people attending. While we can’t predict another Munich, putting a target event 250 miles from a hot zone, in a country thats plagued by terrorism, might not have been a good idea. I really do hope all of these events go off without a hitch, and this article isn’t meant to scare people. This is just a petition to the organizers to these events saying please, look past the end of your nose and see the scope of everything.

For Hambino’s prediction on the World Cup Check Out

And have the US hopes been crushed in December?  Maybe not

Fighting for Hockey

This is a huge pet peeve of mine.  Every week I sit on my couch and turn on various sports shows to hear commentators complain about fighting in hockey.  They attack it as a barbaric act that has no place in a major American sport.  This sentiment is then spread down to the lower, developmental levels of the sport that attack fighting like a plague.  For instance the league I grew up playing had a minimum 6 game suspension for a full out fight for everyone involved.  However, fighting is important for hockey and not just because it adds to the entertainment value.

ReavesFightsEngellandContrary to popular belief fighting in hockey is not all that common.  Yes there is an excessive amount of extracurricular activity after many whistles but this doesn’t constitute a fight.  The pushing and shoving when the play is dead would be regarded in most sports as unnecessary but even this has its place.  Clearing people away from goal or a little shove on a defender shows your team mates that you’re standing up for them.  It also protects exposed players, like a goalie covering a puck or a forward that’s been knocked to the ground.

On average this year there has been about one fight in every two games.  In fact the number has stayed below a fight a game in the last twenty years and never got over 1.3 fights a game.  This is because the situations that necessitate a fight are far and few between.  For one, both players have to be willing to drop the gloves and square off which takes a little prompting.  Really the only time a fight breaks out is when something blatantly brutal happens to defenseless player.  Bertuzzi provided us with a perfect example a few years ago.

This was a particularly upsetting situation since it basically ended Moore’s career.  However this is just an example of a hit that warrants a fight.  In this way hockey becomes a self-enforcing sport.

EmeryHoltbyFightNo one in hockey is forced into a fight.  When a non-willing player is pushed into one, i.e. Emery on Holtby, most of the hockey world is appalled.  Most of the time the biggest or toughest player on the line is the fighter and he is usually quick to stand up for the skill players.  When a star player is being drawn into a fight with a bigger player the enforcer usually steps in.  So what is the result?  The game usually gets a boost of adrenaline and play steps up.  In American sports we love a game changer and the time after a fight tends to be the most exciting part of the game.  The result can also be a momentum changer for a team that’s been dominated physically thus far.

So how does hockey fights differ from a fight in any other sport?  Fighting is not usually a personally motivated tool in the NHL.  Defending a teammate or protecting your team in general tends to be the motive as opposed to a personalron-artest-brawl1 vendetta.  There is also a contained feeling to fights in the NHL.  Both players understand the rules and when the fight is over, usually when someone falls to the ice.  However this level of civility and respect doesn’t exist in the other major sports.  Most fights are prompted by some personal event that occurs in the moment.  These fights are usually insanely intense and require other members of the team to break them up.  The NBA has even had a brief history of these fights flowing into the stands (see below).   The NHL though is able to separate the fan from this experience and control it.  The referees become diligent MMA officials and control the circumstances of the fight.  So please commentators, BACK OFF.  We like our sport how it is.

Thanks to dropyourgloves.com for the stats!