All 19 entries tagged Sport

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August 24, 2009

Ashes to Ashes, Memories to Dust

So we won the Ashes. Yay. Awesome. Etc.

Can’t help but wonder how many people actually saw it happen though. There were several thousand in the stadium, but the best that the bulk of the country could do was hope to catch it on the radio.

Given how much press the series has generated on both back and front covers, isn’t it a bit wrong that so few had the opportunity to see it happen? Isn’t it time to move the Ashes – home and away – to the protected list of events that have to be on terrestrial?


July 01, 2009

Watching black and white paint dry…

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_div_1/8124105.stm

No. This is not fair.

The BBC have a grand total of ten Championship matches last season. That’s ten between a league of 24 teams, so already four teams won’t be making an appearance. So in the interests of fairness… they give Newcastle the first two games.

How can this be fair to the myriad of quality sides in the division that some team, who at the back-end of last season played some pathetically soulless football, can be guaranteed two appearances on terrestrial television when unfashionable sides like Doncaster who play a decent hard-working probably won’t be shown at all? Would it really have been that difficult for the BBC to, if unable to at least pick up a couple more games, structure things so only four clubs miss out rather than immediately focus on a club which claims to be big yet continues to achieve nothing?

Oh wait, I forgot – Newcastle are going to be the Man Utd/Chelsea/Liverpool/Arsenal of the Championship, getting far more TV exposure than the rest of their division. Difference is, in Newcastle’s case I think it’s going to be 1 from 24 rather than 4 from 20.


May 04, 2009

What if…

Last week, Britain’s only world champion boxer (Carl Froch) beat American Jermian Taylor in the final round with seconds remaining. Of course, nobody in this country could watch it, as due to the senselessness of boxing politics no TV channel would screen it. So of course, it was off to YouTube if you want to see any coverage of any of the fight.

Once you remove the anti-American/British/English/Welsh/disestablishmenterialism rubbish, you are left with two strong opinions:

  1. If you disagree with me, you are gay. In fact, the only place where you are more likely to be gay is Xbox Live. Not even Gay Pride has as many people who are gay, if the comments are to be believed.
  1. Taylor “deserved” to win because he was winning most/all the earlier rounds.

Of course, the latter was largely the thoughts of bitter Americans and/or Taylor fans who couldn’t accept their man had lost, let alone the circumstances. Their case was that Taylor had been so dominant in the fight, that he was clearly the superior fighter. Moreover, because Froch was just a punchbag until the end, the fact that Froch had fought so well in the 12th and forced the referee to end the contest in his favour was irrelevant, as Taylor was ahead on the scorecards.

So let’s put this logic into other sports…

  • Pretty much any team sport on the planet, but let’s stick with football: Man Utd go 4-1 on Liverpool. Liverpool score 4 in the last six minutes. However, Man Utd were better for the first 84 minutes, so they should win the fight.
  • Golf: Tiger Woods leads by six shots with two par 4 holes to go. He finishes bogey-double bogey, Ernie Els finishes eagle-eagle and takes one shot less for the competition. But Tiger was better for 16 holes, therefore he deserves to win.
  • Motor Racing: Jenson Button is six laps clear of Lewis Hamilton in second place, before his engine blows up and he stops at the last corner. Hamilton crosses the line first, but because Button led until the last corner he should be the winner.
  • Rowing: Oxford have rowed ten lengths clear of Cambridge with metres to go before the end of the race, but the stroke violently sneezes and tips the crew into the water. Cambridge row past and cross the line in first place, but Oxford led for all that way so they should be the winners.
  • Diving: Tom Daley executes a whole series brilliant dives to leave him miles ahead of Blake Aldridge. Unfortunately, on his last dive Daley gets it wrong, smacks his head on the diving board, the crowd watches his brains splatter across the pool, and he scores nothing. Aldridge dives into the pool, avoiding the bits of broken skull, and does enough to make up the deficit on the final dive. However, Daley was better before that dive, so he should win.

These farcical examples should go a long way to proving three things. Firstly, that the winner is the one who is in front at the end of the competition, not some arbitrary point in the middle. Secondly, that the internet gives a very powerful voice to very stupid people. And thirdly, I am supposed to call your sexual orientation into question if you do not agree with this entry. According to YouTube, anyway.

As an aside, Ricky Hatton got beaten by Manny Pacquiao, and said that the winner deserved it. Just like Jermain Taylor did, as a matter fact. Wonder how long it is before Mancunians claim Filipinos are homosexual?


May 29, 2008

Play–offs: it's just cricket

So I hear that the ECB is again looking to revamp the county game. It was only in 200 that the long game was changed from 1 division of 18 sides playing home OR away to 2 divisions of 9 sides playing home AND away. (This conveniently removed the extra game in the season which Durham added by joining the league in 1992.) Of course, you could say this prompt review has been caused by the Indian Premier League, a fairly apt title in that it too is making millionaires of its sportsmen thanks to hefty TV funding (and a fanatic Indian fanbase) but that would be oversimplifying the issue.

As well as the County Championship (16×4-day games), you also have the dreadfully named Pro40, which is the 40-overs a side league competition also in two divisions from 1998 (so 16×1-day games), the Friends Provident Trophy, currently a 50-overs a side round-robin which knockout competition that again features the major counties plus Ireland and Scotland (although before 2006 it also featured a lot of minor counties) and then of course the Twenty20 knockabout thingy that gets 108% of the revenue of the sport in each year.

Now for those of you who have also been keeping up with rugby (be it union or league), not to mention several other sports like basketball and ice hockey, you’ll know that the end of the league season has this completely pointless play-offs thing, where the top four of the regular league season compete in a stupid end-of-season tournament to decide the “winners”. Why do they do it? TV money. It serves absolutely no use whatsoever, as the whole point of the league structure is to decide who is the best over a long series of games, not in an end-of-season PPV rushabout.

Play-offs, of course, are an American idea, both in their execution and the fact that’s where the big money comes in from the advertisers. Yet in America, it works. America is a big country, it has a limited number of franchises in each sport (for simplicity let’s assume American Football, Baseball and Ice Hockey) which don’t change from year to year that ideally need grouping by geography. Not only do they bring in a ton of extra money (because the sports aren’t awash with enough already) but they provide the ideal scenario to combine the geographical results of the season past without making everyone play each other every season and trawl all over the country.

Fixed group of teams, spread over the country, pressed for time. What sport does that remind you of… no, not rugby. It’s cricket. From the day they introduced the two-tier system I couldn’t see the point of it. Suddenly, you make the county game based upon geography and play-offs and it’s perfectly balanced: split the 18 into three leagues of six, play 10 games (H+A) against the other five in your “league” and three games against other teams, and lo and behold you’re set for top 2 from each league plus two others in an end-of-season knockout. 13-16 4-day games a season, a money-spinner at the end of the run, and more time for the slogfests during the year.

Granted it’s not quite as straightforward as just shoving the idea into play (What if the play-off games get rained off, for instance? Where would they take place?) but as far as British sport goes it’s by far the most useful implementation of the end-of-season knockout tourney there could be.

Far better than doing it in rugby, at least.


November 28, 2007

The Completely Useless Sports Guide #9

Horse Racing

Horse Racing, often abbreviated to just Racing, is a sport which involves midgets sitting on horses and beating the living daylights out of their steed in order to make them run faster.

Many races take place on a flat or undulating course of turf, sand, astroturf, carpet, mud or jelly. Other races, known as point to point, start in one Lord’s back garden and end in another’s, whilst in some races they construct obstacles, known as fences, which span this course, forcing the horse to either jump it, run away from it, throw their mount to the floor, or trip over it and die. Races can have anything between 2 to 40 teams taking part.

The races themselves are often a sideshow to the main attraction, the betting on which horse is going to win/lose/not quite win/have its rider slow it down enough to make money for themselves/sneeze.

Although the horses usually only do one race every 3 or 4 months, the riders will often do several in a day, as they aren’t being whipped all the time. At the end of the season, the “Champion Jockey” is the one who has made the most money from fixing races, whilst the “Champion Trainer” is the one who has the most interviews by John McCriririririririririririririririririck.


July 25, 2007

Cycling: is it really an example of a failed sport?

Well what a silly couple of days in Le Tour. Firstly pre-race favourite Alex “crash lots then stage fightback then crumble then stage another fightback” Vinokourov fails a blood test and gets both him and his team kicked out. Then after Cofidis form part of a protest to not start racing for a bit, one of their riders fails a drugs test and promptly gets himself arrested and his team kicked out. Now race leader Michael “I’m not a drugs cheat, I just forget where I am a lot” Rasmussen, having just won today’s stage, has been sacked by his own team for being dishonest about his whereabouts. And that’s before you mention the ongoing sagas of last year’s Tour de France “winner” Floyd Landis and this year’s Giro d’Italia “winner” Danilo Di Luca.

It’s laughable that something that considers itself to be a sport can be so ridden with competitors artificially enhancing their bodies. But I’m not going to go and have a rant about how drugs are bad and the riders are nasty people, as that would be too generic. Cycling, at least, is actually trying to something about it – it’s just so disorganised and haphazard. The incentive is there for riders to keep cheating, and with the money floating about you can hardly blame them.

No, instead I look at sports like baseball and golf. Baseball has probably the most apathetic testing system of any sport, and golf the laziest (i.e. it doesn’t even have one). Why should people stay clean when for such little risk they can reap massive rewards by injecting blood or other substances into their system?

Cycling is again looking very bad. For the second year in a row its showpiece event leaves a bad taste in the mouth because its main stars have been shown to be cheats. And I can see the trend continuing, because as the system sorts itself out more and more people will be caught out, until a new generation of cleaner riders prevail and then positive tests become the exception rather than the expected.

As for baseball, how can you possibly compare the achievements of Barry Bonds, who has been dogged by the BALCO scandal, to Hank Aaron? It’s more than noticeable that Marion Jones, since the BALCO details have come to light, has been running at best average and more accurately plain crap.

Some thought that when German TV ceased transmission of le Tour in protest at the pre-event failure of a drugs test by another rider it was an overreaction. Some today felt that the refusal to start cycling by the teams campaigning for cleaner cycling was an overreaction. Yes this is another Tour de France which is going to be remembered for all the wrong reasons, but it’s not because cycling is a sport which isn’t trying to clean itself up. It just is playing catch-up from having not taken it seriously enough.


July 20, 2007

Side–effects of Pretorious (not) being allowed to run with everyone else

Now I did have a completely unrelated blog entry all done, but WB wouldn’t let me sign in and my computer promptly crashed, so that went.

Then I thought about doing an entry on the ongoing saga of the attempts of Paralympic athelte Oscar “Blade Runner” Pretorious to be accepted as an able-bodied runner, but that horse has been sufficiently flogged. So rather than just give a “no because…” entry, I thought I’d come up with some rather silly scenarios should the final decision on his Olympic future go either way.

Intentional Amputation

If Pretorious is allowed to run even though his blades offer an advantage, what is to stop an able-bodied athlete chopping off their own legs and having their own performance-enhancing limbs?

“You need four limbs”

If Pretorious is not allowed to run on the grounds that he doesn’t have four limbs, does this mean that an athlete without an arm isn’t allowed to run even if he’s really good?

Totalitarian trials

Everybody deserves the right to run in the trials. Unfortunately, we are still waiting for 84 year old Fred Brooks to finish the 10000m from last year before we can start this year’s trials. His pacemaker is Eric the Eel.

The end of segregation

Pretorious runs as a “non-disabled” runner, thus forcing all other Paralympians to run with the regular Olympians. At the same time, age and gender divisions are also abolished.

Enhancing leg technology

With Pretorious banned from the Olympics, companies are free to develop the most efficient artificial legs they can manage. The 100m world record is thus reduced to 6.47 seconds by Javier Mbangua, whose springy legs allow him to stride up to 19 metres a time.

I’m sure there are more potential silly ideas I can come up with. It’s an emotional issue, but the key issue here isn’t at all about why he shouldn’t be allowed to run with his non-disabled rivals, but why he should.


March 25, 2007

Team Israel vs Collection of Individuals England

Now as nobody else has talked about it here, possibly because they have been either ramming their heads into a wall instead or they fell asleep during the second half and haven’t woken up yet, I’ll do a brief entry on the “game”, if you could call it that.

I was admittedly working, so I missed pretty much all of the first 25 minutes, and apparently missed nothing of note. My boss was complaining that all Carragher and Lennon were doing in possession is turning round and passing it back and inside five yards, and proceeded to let me stand there for a few minutes and see this was in fact the case. He reckons Carragher made at most three passes in a forward direction in the whole of the first half. Second half was similarly crap, and again consisted of England passing the ball around with no real intent before Lampard hit a long ball that Peter Crouch wouldn’t get to if he was on stilts, never mind Johnson or Rooney. With no creativity in midfield, McLaren responded by changing first his right back, then his centre forward, and we started to get very bored and checked if England were winning their other sporting contest of the evening. So yeah, a dreadful game that both teams deserved to lose.

Whilst watching England spray the ball aimless around the pitch and then seeing pointless non-game-changing substitutions, we were wondering if McLaren was watching the same game as us. Listening to his press conference, we knew he wasn’t. England might have had the better of the possession, but created next to nothing. The keeper was barely tested, Carragher’s header on the bar can hardly be constituted as a “near miss” as any lower and the keeper would have snapped it up, and quite frankly everything that came out of his mouth was rubbish.

So let’s see if I can do better…

  1. Carragher is not a full-back, nor is Gerrard a winger. Let’s not play them there.
  2. Phil Neville is not an international quality player – jack of all trades, master of none. But at this exact moment in time, are the alternatives good enough to replace him?
  3. Time and time again it’s been shown that you can’t play Lampard and Gerrard in the same team unless you play with two proper attacking central midfielders, and this means changing the team shape to either a 4-4-2 with no width or 3-5-2/4-5-1. Frankly, Lampard probably doesn’t deserve his place at the moment – certainly not ahead of Gerrard.
  4. If you’re playing Lennon, you want him running at people, not stopping, doing a few fancy turns and then passing the ball back to Carragher, who passes the ball back inside to whoever.
  5. England need a far better strategy than the long ball. It hasn’t been working with Crouch and it sure as hell won’t work with Johnson. If we were meant to play the long ball, God would have put grass up there.
  6. I learnt nothing about Johnson as an international striker from tonight, nor how well he links with Rooney. This I blame entirely on the midfield.
  7. McLaren is clueless.

March 23, 2007

The Completely Useless Sports Guide #8

Athletics

Athletics is another generic term covering a large variety of disciplines. It covers both “track and field”, which takes place in a specially constructed arena, and “running”, which takes place at any convenient place. There is a running element in track and field but it also involves jumping, throwing, injecting and walking and thus should not be confused with running. For those who do not have

There is little specific team element to athletics. Some running races will have a team competition which awards points according to finishing position and the lowest combined score of a team wins. Others races, known as relays, involve passing a baton, a hollow metal tube, from one runner to another. Some track and field events also have a team competition which takes place across all events and scores participants per event.

It is a well known fact that track and field attracts far bigger sponsorship at elite level than running. It is also a well known fact that running makes far more money than track and field, and consequently track and field is funded by running at all levels bar international standard. In the interests of equality, anybody is allowed to take part in running, but only beanpoles are allowed to take part in the running events of track and field. Anybody too fat to do so is instead either allowed to chuck big heavy stuff about or inject. Participants lacking legs are allowed to use a wheelchair, but can’t compete against athletes with legs.

Competitions take place between track and field clubs in a league system where every team in the league at the same goes to one club’s track once and do their events and promptly get shouted at when they don’t lose, causing more injections. Runners compete as and when they feel like and will promptly bore you to death with stories about the time where I was doing this race in….


January 24, 2007

The Completely Useless Sports Guide #7

Ice Hockey

Ice Hockey is a form of multi-player combat sport taking place on ice involving sticks and blades. When not fighting participants try to put a small rubber disc into a net past another participant who is generally too fat and slow to reach any brawl further than five metres from his goal.

An ice hockey team consists of six players on the ice trying to fight and a further array of substitutes who are resting from previous fights but may take the position of any brawler on their team at any time of their choosing. At the end of the game, everyone shakes hands and share stories about the various hits they made during the game down the pub.

The overall bout takes place in three twenty-minute rounds. Whilst there is no restriction on what you use as your instrument of choice in fights, it is impractical to take your skate off and use it as you will end up being hit very hard. There are a few rules about putting the puck in the goal between fights but I’d hate to bog you down in detail.

Most competitions are predominantly in league form, with playoffs at the end of the season for the highest-ranking teams. While this is useful for the USA where teams are spread over timezones and thus leagues are done by region, it’s pretty pointless in the UK where most teams are a couple of motorways away. International tournaments are also decided in a similar fashion, although they try and make the fighting more glamorous at the Olympics.


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