Archive for ‘Sports’

May 8, 2011

I wish I could quit you

via Google Images

I want to stop watching professional football. I feel that this is something a principled man would do. I think I am a principled man ergo I want to give up on professional football entirely. This is no mean feat and I am not sure that I can pull it off. What with fantasy football every week and all the highlights of big men making big plays. Or the amazing hype surrounding super bowl Sunday, I am just not sure I have it in me. Especially when I keep coming back to the fact that I am just one man and my attempt at a statement will not make a dent in the National Football League’s pocketbook. However, I don’t see how any man with a good conscience can know what I now know about the dangers of football and continue to watch it without guilt.

According to a 2009 article by Malcolm Gladwell, most football players are at risk of ending up with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), “a progressive neurological disorder found in people who have suffered some kind of brain trauma. This disorder shows some of the same symptoms as Alzheimer’s: beginning with personality and behavioral changes, “followed by disinhibition and irritability, before moving on to dementia”. What’s worse is that CTE manifests later because it takes some time for the original head trauma to become nerve-cell breakdown and death. Gladwell goes on to talk about two researchers, Ann McKee and Bennet Omalu who have studied ex-athletes’ brains and have found evidence of CTE backing up his assertions with research. Basically, most football players during the length of their careers bash their heads with other players repeatedly. This can result in concussions but since the sport has a tough guy code, getting your “bell rung” is often not a reason for extended time off the field. So these players continue to play risking continued damage to their brains. They may not pay for this in the interim but ultimately this will catch up to them.

Gladwell tells the story of Kyle Turley (one of my favorite players when he played), Andre Waters, Terry Long and a few others. Long killed himself by drinking antifreeze while Waters pleaded for help before shooting himself in the head. Turley is still alive but suffers from multiple episodes. The NFL is starting to take the issue of concussions seriously and insists that players be cleared before returning the field post-concussion but is this enough? It is hard to say and no one seems to have any answers yet on how to combat this problem. Better helmets are not the answer because the better the equipment, the more the players employ them as some sort of weapon.

Which brings me back to my dilemma. My background in Psychology tells me that these players are causing great damage to their futures since it is difficult for the brain to heal. Continuing to watch this spectacle makes me an accomplice of sorts. How can I hold the NFL accountable when the players are pandering to fans like myself by doing what they know we enjoy so much? I desperately want to stop watching professional football but I do not know if I can pull it off. For more on this subject, go here

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August 13, 2010

Rio 2010 Homeless World Cup

Jacked from Homeless World Cup site

I love soccer. It is one of my favorite things to watch and I thoroughly enjoy watching the World Cup. The idea that every four years, people around the world get together, plop down in front of a television set and watch the same spectacle always amazes me. There is truly nothing like the World Cup. Battles have actually come to a stand still as warring factions agree to take a break to go watch a match or two. That’s how powerful soccer can be and that power is now being turned towards fighting homelessness?

Yes, you read that right. Doing some reading, I stumbled upon this article on former College soccer star Lisa Wrightsman, who is now homeless. She had succumbed to addiction and ended up finding herself in a very bad place. She checked into a shelter to find a job and get her life back together but was also recruited to play for the soccer team there.

While I was excited to read about the positive changes she was making, what caught my attention was the tournament she was playing in; The Street Soccer USA Cup.

This was not the style of free-form street soccer played in many places around the world. Instead, it was an Americanized version, a fast-paced four-on-four game with referees ensuring adherence to rules and walls confining play on a 52-by-72-foot field, the goals being 12 feet wide and 4 feet high.

Apparently, “About 200 players came from teen shelters, refugee resource centers and recovery houses from across the country, as well as one team from St. Petersburg, Russia. The Russian team won the title, beating a team from San Francisco in the final, 6-1.” I also couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw there was indeed a World Cup which would be going down in September in Rio. 64 nations will be participating and I for one will be keeping a close eye on the proceedings. More to come but for now I’ll leave you with this….

June 11, 2008

Simply put; More is expected

Last night I witnessed one of the most unsatisfying victories I have ever witnessed as a Laker fan. Don’t get me wrong, I will take it but man did that game make me nervous. The reason? It has been three games already and Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol are yet to show up.

In game 3, Odom had more fouls (5) and turnovers (also 5), than points (4). Pau did get 9 points and 12 rebounds but it really didn’t feel that way as he once again appeared soft and unsure. What worries me is that last night’s game was basically the most important game in their lives thus far and yet they couldn’t even get up for it. If not last night, then when?

Odom needs to become that guy that the other team can’t guard. Paul Pierce can’t cover him and neither can Kendrick Perkins. Gasol is at least tied up with Kevin Garnett who is more athletic and stronger than him. However, the kicker is that Odom cannot be effective unless Gasol is being a force. Odom gets his licks in by playing off of Gasol.

Therefore the key to Odom finding his game, is Gasol finding his. How can the Lakers acheive this? Well, strangely missing from the Lakers’ game last night was the pick and roll between Kobe and Gasol. This might be because Kobe was so aggressive that he kept attacking and a lot of iso plays were run for him. I would go back to it to start game 4 as a way to get Gasol up and rolling. The Celtics have not been able to defend it effectively and they won’t be able to this time either. This would get Gasol some buckets and get his confidence soaring. More importantly, it would establish Gasol as a force and create space for Odom to be dominant.

April 24, 2008

The Power of Sports

Here at the round table, we are all about bringing change and positively affecting the world in one way or another. So when I found this article on ESPN.com, I simply knew I had to share. Afterall, this is what it is all about. Some of Lee Garston and Christina Piranio’s story is highlighted by this youtube video . Amazingly, the article got no love on ESPN. Articles about athletes behaving badly or getting traded or other useless information stay on the front page and are viewed and commented a lot. We just have things backwards these days.

I got to watch Kobe Bryant do his thing last night. 49 points and10 assists and it looked like he did it all without even exerting himself. It was almost like I saw it coming at halftime. I watched his halftime interview and Craig Sager asked him if he was going to change anything when Kenyon Martin came off the bench and got on him again? Craig was trying to point out that Martin was their ace defender and was bigger than Kobe so technically should give him problems. Kobe responded by saying something that as a Laker fan I have come to know as vintage Kobe. “It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if it is Kenyon Martin or anybody else”. I remember believing him. I remember thinking that if this were any other player, I’d wonder if they weren’t putting their foot in their mouth. With Kobe, it just fits. You get the sense that he always has more tricks up his sleeves. Then he went out there and proved it by racking up assists and the rest of his 49 points. I just can’t imagine anyone else in the league being able to say that with such confidence and know he would back it up.

Having said that, can anyone else explain why J.R. Smith would try to rile him up? What was the purpose of that? It only got Kobe angrier and turned Smith into a victim as Kobe got by him on the next possession, scoring and getting fouled on an and 1 play. Why, J.R.? Take it from the man himself; “Better learn not to talk to me,” Bryant said. “You shake the tree, a leopard’s gonna fall out.” Indeed.

April 16, 2008

It has been a while brethren

Indeed it has been. I hadn’t abandoned this place, my world just got so hectic that it had to go on the backburner for a while. A long while. I am back though and I am itching to make up for lost time.

There is a lot to talk about. First of all, I hope you guys will forgive my absence. It wasn’t planned out to be that way but everything happens for a reason or so they say.

I am yet to fully get over UCLA’s loss in the final 4 (again!!) to Memphis. Congratulations are in order to Rawdawg whose boys made it to the championship game only to lose to Kansas. Still a great season for them regardless. I am looking forward to next season and hoping that Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and Darren Collison are staying. That would definitely put us over the top with the great recruiting class we have coming in.

I miss football. I know I broke up with her but I miss her already. Yes I know I am a Rams and UCLA fan and football hasn’t been our strong suit for a few years now but a man can hope right?

I am bored with the Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton race. Somebody win already so we can get to the part where they actually face John McCain. Here in California we are dealing with intended budget cuts especially in education. We have been fighting against that and hoping Arnold doesn’t go through with it. But thats a subject for another day.

March 19, 2008

March Madness has got me going loco

Here are my tournament picks;

Sweet 16; UCLA, UNC, Wash. St., Louisville, Tennessee, Kansas, Clemson, Wisconsin, Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Stanford, Texas, Connecticut, Xavier, Arizona and Memphis.

Elite Eight: UNC, Louisville, Kansas, Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Stanford, UCLA and Arizona

Final Four: UNC, Georgetown, UCLA and Stanford

Championship Game: UCLA, UNC

Champions: UCLA

March 15, 2008

NBA MVP. Kobe over Lebron

Sometime last week my brother took the time to call me up. He was in a panic. He had this to say; ESPN is starting to hype up Lebron James over Kobe for M.V.P. I assured him that it wasn’t going to happen. I told him that ESPN was only hyping LBJ because he had just dropped 50 points the day before. Don’t get me wrong, Lebron is a worthy candidate but I don’t think he should be given M.V.P over Kobe Bryant or even Chris Paul.

Everytime it was Kobe’s turn to win M.V.P, the media has come up with some reason not to give it to him. My favorite one is the ever popular; “he is the best player in the world but he isn’t the most valuable player”. Correct me if I am wrong but isn’t M.V.P supposed to be handed to the best player? All those years Jordan was winning them, was he the best at making his teammates better? Wasn’t it just his pure dominance, his motion that was straight poetry and his charisma off the court. In fact, didn’t Jordan’s team do pretty well without him when he went off to play baseball?

Don’t even get me started on this myth of making your teammates better. It is more like working with your teammates and not making them better. You are a team so by playing your role you are making the team work. Your teammates make themselves better by putting in work and in turn you trust them with the ball. No amount of passing is going to make a person make a wide open shot unless they have practiced that shot by themself. Yet this was the rationale given for wresting it away from Kobe all this time.

To show how inconsistent this award is, Steve Nash won it two times in a row and then went ahead and posted better numbers than he had those two years but it was given to someone else. Why? Well they just didn’t want to give it to him three years in a row. The M.V.P should just go back to being what it used to be; the best player that season and not a popularity contest. It isn’t Mr. Congeniality or M.L.P (Most Liked Player).

This season, Kobe has become the leader that he supposedly wasn’t all those years. He has drastically reduced his shot attempts and is averaging more assists. However, the mistake that most people are making is assuming that more assists means he is passing the ball more. Kobe had always passed the ball. The difference is that his teammates are making those shots on a consistent basis. He is also very tenacious on defense when he is locked in and he is playing with an injury that would otherwise require surgery. Input the fact that he is still the best player in the league (Lebron being a close second) and he should be a run away winner. Why shouldn’t Lebron win it? Well because Lebron’s team is in the Eastern Conference and still isn’t doing as well as Kobe’s. Look how tough the West is and don’t even bother comparing it with the east. Game over.

February 20, 2008

Turn off your TV, turn on your mind…

Schopenhauer on thinking for Oneself: “The safest way of having no thoughts of one’s own is to turn on the TV set every moment one has nothing else to do. It is this practice which explains why watching TV makes most people more stupid and silly than they are by nature.”

“What good fortune for those in power that people do not think.” -Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf.

“It is easy to overlook a deceptively simple fact: one is always watching television when one is watching television rather than having any other experience. Whether the program being watched is Sesame Street or Spiderman, Nova or Fantasy Island, there is a similarity of experience about all television watching.”

Are you sitting down? Good because I am about to dive into a controversial topic. Bernard McGrane, a renowned Sociologist once pointed out that TV is designed to dominate your life. Think about it. You see it best in a dark room by its own light. It has its own sounds and images. It is dominant by nature. Turn it off and you might even forget it is there. Turn it on and you have to stare at it. It is getting bigger and bigger, the images are getting clearer and clearer and now, it even includes surround sound. The new tvs demand that you put them up on a pedestal above every other thing. Can you think of any other electrical appliance that demands such majesty, such visibility? No. You can’t.

And it is through tv that we have lost our sense of reality. I’ll give you an example. Think of the Katrina tragedy in New Orleans. Remember the countless hours of coverage that it got? Have the problems all been fixed? Not at all. Then how come it isn’t getting much talk around the water cooler? How come more people aren’t demanding answers, or volunteering or even thinking about it? Because the cameras are gone. TV and the media have moved on to other things like Britney Spears and Roger Clemens and steroids. We were told something as ridiculous as the New Orleans Saints were playing for the victims of Katrina. That sports were a way to heal the wounds left over from the disaster and that was bull. Throwing a ball doesn’t fix things or make them better. It only causes people to ignore just how bad things are. Sure sports might bring people together. But the tragedy which most people miss is that we even need sports to bring us together. What has New Orleans gained from the Saints making the playoffs that year? Moments of joy and happiness, yes but it didn’t feed anyone or clothe anyone or rebuild their torn down homes or give them back what they lost. The fact that these people even gain joy from that is a big example of how skewed our reality has gotten.

The allure of TV and indeed the media on the whole is that we believe that it is a good thing for the city that the Saints were playing well. Look closely though and you’ll realize that it was all a marketing ruse. The Saints got more publicity, sold more tickets, television ratings went up and they sold more jerseys. In the end what has the city gotten? Ten to twenty minute segments at halftime of games while the games go on. Imagine that all the people who watched the superbowl (including me) saved the money they used to buy tickets, even buy big screen Tvs, alcohol and other refreshments and sent them to New Orleans. Wouldn’t the problem be taken care of?

There are countless other examples but I will leave you with that one as the point has been made. We need to spend more time thinking about others and setting examples and learning and loving other people instead of being glued to the tube. Gotta go. I have to go watch the Lakers play the Suns.

February 19, 2008

Andy Pettitte comes off smelling like Roses

First I would like to apologize to the readers that I have for my apparent neglect of my duty to this blog. I certainly was going through a rough patch and didn’t have all the time to dedicate to keeping up my work here. I also would like to thank all for their participation on the second round table subject of education. I got some very good responses and some also equally good questions raised which I will be getting to later.

Now for the matter at hand. I gained a lot of respect for Andy Pettite when I watched a portion of his hour long press conference today. For a quick summary of what he said check this article out .

I could see why the committee excused him from testifying during Roger Clemens and Brian Mcnamee’s hearings. Andy Pettitte just is a nice guy. It is easy to see that he is sincere when he says he is sorry for what he has done. It is easy to forgive him. More importantly, he admitted his transgressions. He wasn’t acting like he was wronged or it was a big misunderstanding. He owned it and for that I will stand behind him and I know many other people will.

What impressed me the most was the way he answered the questions. He listened attentively and never once bristled and came out swinging. He said his faith was what led him to be honest and to let it all hang out. “The truth” has set him free. We all make mistakes and when one of us comes out and genuinely repents of them, then by all means we ought to forgive them. Andy Pettitte you are forgiven. “Go and sin no more.”

January 29, 2008

Table Talk 1: Negativity

I was sitting there wondering what to make our first table talk subject and I couldn’t come up with something yet. All of a sudden inspiration hit me. There is always a lot of negative information out there today.

Listen to the news. There is always something wrong or someone killing somebody, obesity statistics, things that can kill you, How you can avoid being killed etc. Not enough time is focused on the good that is going on around us. We’ve got people volunteering, real life heroes, just plain nice people in the world.

We have enough information about athletes and their wild ways. Their cars and lavish lifestyle. Pacman Jones makes it rain in Vegas, we hear about it. Kobe Bryant helps the make a wish foundation and it gets absolutely no coverage.The end result is that people live in fear. You can’t walk up to someone on the street and say “hello” to them because they might have a gun or might be a freak of some sort.

No wonder certain youth turn to gangs and dreams of becoming rappers or ballplayers. They lack positive role models that they can believe in. How can we tell them to stay in school when we can’t show them examples of people who made that system work for them? It is not that these models don’t exist, they just get little to no coverage.

So this first week is dedicated to the good in all of us. This week is about looking at yourself and saying, this is a beautiful place to live. Its not always doom and gloom all the time. Are things bad? Yes they are but there is so much more good. So much more.