Archive for the ‘sports’ Category
Bill Maher is nobody’s favorite comedian, but he does occasionally have some good zingers. So. In the spirit of Super Bowl Week in America Extravaganza for Sportsball in the USA USA!!!, I offer Bill Maher on why the NFL is the democratic party: Because it is socialist.
It is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the USA. A worthy holiday, one you should be spending off-line. But in case you’re not, here’s a few pieces of news for those of you on the internets today (like me).
First, in “real” news, Jon Huntsman is dropping out of the GOP 2012 Primary contest. He may be been Mormon, and has worked for Obama, and speaks Chinese, and been the Governor of Utah, and a list of other descriptors that make him “disqualified” or “qualified.” But congratulations, GOP, you have now successfully ignored the only candidate in the race who came off with any sense of moderation. Which leaves Huntsman (smart and capable and super conservative) out of the race, but Rick Santorum (terrible and super conservative) left in the race. Nice one.
And now for things that don’t really matter.
The Packers lost to the NY Giants in a football game. Though I no longer have any ill-will towards the Packers (as a Vikings fan) it is always fun to see the underdogs win. Additionally, having grown so tired of this years “it’s all about the offense, the QB is unstoppable” theme, I’m delighted to see both Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers lose. Clearly it is not all about the offense. Suckers.
The Golden Globes happened yesterday. They were pretty boring. Last year, Ricky Gervais was mean, but also mostly funny. And it came off as a total surprise to see him do and say what he did and said, and thus made the event worth watching, if a bit painful. By asking him back, and encouraging him to use the same schtick, all the shock value was lost, and Gervais was just boring. Oh remember how Ricky Gervais was rude to Johnny Depp last year, well here is Depp now returning the favor. Oh, He’s joking that everyone loves Colin Firth. EVERYONE DOES love Colin Firth, you jackass. That’s not funny.
And by the way, I struggle to see how Descendants is the best picture of the year and Hugo was the best directed film of the year. I haven’t seen either (and I’m sure they are both solid, if not good films) so I know I’m speaking out of turn, but still, Hugo? Descendants? I watched Moneyball last night, and will bet it was better than both of those movies.
Tim Tebow deserves praise today. Yesterday, he played a beautiful game of football, which I did not think was in the cards for him, against a superior team, and as a result scored the right to hear a million mea culpas. Today.
And TRC is not too proud to provide one. Nice work, Tim. Good game. Keep it up. I was rooting for you to beat the ultimate sports dickhead, Ben Roethsliberger, and am happy you did. Good luck against the Patriots. I know I created this image to highlight how Tom Brady is a far superior QB than you are, but if you put together another game like yesterday, well, you just might pull it off. Maybe it isn’t all belief and heart and trust in your personal lord and savior. Maybe you’re just a talented young football player. But even if it was just a fluke (which it seems likely not to have been), congratulations.
And if you continue to play like you did against the Steelers, maybe your identity as a football player will assert itself, and you can be taken more seriously for being a professional, and things like this won’t have to be written. (hint, how many yards did Tebow throw for yesterday? and what was his average yards/completion? and how bored/lacking faith in humanity is a God who puts such signs into a football game?) (I kid, I kid).
Did you know that the best sporting event of the year was the Women’s World Cup? And the Lady Yanks were the team of the 2011? They put together an exciting, dramatic, beautiful run of soccer. And they electrified the country to support their cause: Women’s International Soccer. They played beautifully, and they played tough. And then to the heartbreak of a whole nation that found itself surprised by how much it cared, the US Women’s Soccer Team lost the World Cup final to Japan on an incredibly weak penalty kick showing.
The pressure must have been fantastically huge. The Japanese Women were the sentimental favorites of the entire world, and their victory is not undeserved. And yet this summer’s World Cup was truly one of the best things of 2011. It has left us with some indelible images and lovable reminders that these women are tough, excellent at their jobs, and so much fun.
Here are three highlights of the year’s best sporting event.
1. Megan Rapinoe.
Everyone fell in love with Megan Rapinoe. How could you not? She was the squad’s most resourceful player, and she had a beautiful cross that set up goal after goal. She was the most spirited, energizing character, and she had that hair. How iconic did her hair become? It inspired this t-shirt, from Nike.
I wear a men’s M if you are interested. I’d love to own one of these.
2. Alex Morgan’s goal scoring ability.
Alex Morgan scored a beautiful goal in the World Cup Final against Japan. Receiving a lovely long-ball from Rapinoe on a broken attack from the Japanese, Morgan laid a perfect shot into the far post, just out of reach of the Japanese keeper. It was a perfect strike.
But what lovers of soccer learned from this tournament is that Alex Morgan can score goals. The above goal against Japan was not Morgan’s best of the year. It was not even the best of the summer. The woman can score goals.
3. Abby Wambach is one tough cookie.
That Abby Wambach is a big, tough, player for the USWNT is no surprise if you watch the game. She is tall, she is muscular, and she gets her head on the ball and puts it in the net. It is just what she does.
Wambach, though, has taken her hits. And none could be worse than the qualifying match that the USWNT lost to Brazil back in November of 2010. In that match, Wambach went up to challenge for ball and took a shot to her eyebrow, which split her open. Amidst the rushing blood, the trainer stapled her face back together, and she played on. Because Abby Wambach is badass. (warning: there’s quite a lot of blood in the below video)
And this story has a happy ending, as Abby Wambach scored the latest goal in World Cup history against Brazil to bring the match to PK shootout, which the Lady Yanks won to give them a birth to the final.
If the US Women’s Team’s performance at this summer’s World Cup didn’t cause you immense joy, surprise, heartbreak, and simple love of country and sport, well, then you just weren’t paying attention.
Apparently the Onion has quit the satire gig, and has started reporting on the wondrous lifestyles of America’s millionaires. About a new Tom Brady autobiography, the Onion reports:
“From the highest highs of winning two NFL MVP awards and marrying a Brazilian supermodel, to the more moderate highs of being a record-setting quarterback for the University of Michigan, this memoir is very personal and doesn’t hold back,” said Bryce Joplin, a representative from the book’s publisher, Hyperion, adding that Tom Brady: A Life Of Joy And Painlessness goes on sale Tuesday. ”On the one hand, readers will see the side of Tom they already know from the football field—a good-looking millionaire who is constantly winning—but on the other, they’ll finally learn who Tom is off the field: a constant winner who is also a good-looking millionaire.” Brady was not available for comment, as he was eating filet mignon at the best steakhouse in Boston while waiting for a call concerning a $20 million endorsement deal with Rolex.
Is the satire here: this is perfectly true, and us poor people long for Bradian wealth? Or is the satire: this is perfectly true, and the rest of us poor people are just schmucks?
Because I struggle to see any other satire here.
I don’t want to write about Tim Tebow, because everyone is writing about Tim Tebow. But sometimes, there’s a reason everyone is doing something. It is just unavoidable.
This morning, I read an opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal called Tim Tebow: God’s Quarterback. It was written by Patton Dodd, who I have never heard of, but whose bio says he is “is the managing editor of the website Patheos and a former senior editor at Beliefnet. “
In his article, Mr. Dodd claims that the fever over Tim Tebow, especially on the part of his critics, comes from the fact that we think Tebow must be a hypocrite. That no one can be that nice, that good, that kind-hearted, that sincere, etc. Asks Dodd:
In the case of Mr. Tebow, what seems to fuel many of his fans—and to drive many of his critics crazy—is not so much his evangelical faith itself but the equanimity and generosity that his faith inspires in him. Can he really mean it when he says that football isn’t that important to him, that he cares more about transcendent things?
…(a long list of the good things Tebow has done)…
What we are far less sure how to do is to take seriously a public figure’s seemingly admirable character and professions of higher purpose. We don’t know how to trust goodness.
And who can blame us? We don’t want to be fooled again.
As one of the people that finds the Tebow Thing absolutely fascinating, tremendously infuriating, but inescapably attractive, I have to point out to Mr. Dodd: You are absolutely wrong. There are many, many reasons people like me find the Tebow Thing insane. But I don’t know anyone that thinks that Tim Tebow is not genuinely sincere, or is a hypocrite.
Tim Tebow’s actual belief and sincerity are not the point. They are, in fact, the LEAST interesting element of the whole Tebow Phenomenon. What really drives us mad? Evangelicals who write op-eds in national newspapers called “Tim Tebow: God’s Quarterback.” That’s why we are going crazy. Tim Tebow provides the most public, high-profile opportunity for proselytizing that has come along in a long time. And no one is missing the opportunity.
What drives us crazy is that national evangelical leaders like you, (and many others) take this opportunity to write about how we (Tebow doubters) cannot recognize what is good and are cynical about seeing people with good intentions. That Tebow should inspire us, like he has so many, that we are missing the point, that athlete after athlete is saved from the wreckage by their personal lord and savior. That with Tebow, there was no redemption, he was already there. That, as you say, I don’t know how to trust goodness.
These criticisms may be true. I don’t know. I tend to think that I have a good eye towards people who are making the world better, even if I don’t agree with their personal beliefs. Living well and loving others is the point, and if Tim Tebow does that through a wildly obnoxious public evangelical presence, that’s fine. I don’t share his belief, but that’s neither here nor there regarding whether he is living well.
It’s time for the Tebow Lovers to publicly recognize that the reason the Tebow Thing drives us bonkers is not Tim Tebow, it is you, and Mr. Dodd, and every other Tebow peddler in the media.
(and, maybe just a little, Tim Tebow).
**UPDATE: Now this is good coverage of Tim Tebow. And it’s even from the Wall Street Journal.
There are certain things the human brain is purposed for. Reason and creativity and logic and love and science and philosophy and poetry and all kinds of beautiful, helpful, weird and wonderful human activities. All on account of that most vital of organs.
These are the things the brain can do, if we choose. Then, there are the things we do to the human brain. Like make a career as a lineman in the NFL, or as an enforcer in the NHL. This is not to imply that these are bad choices. I’m a sports fan, after all. But they are clearly choices that impact the brain.
And it is the choice Derek Boogaard made, as he took the enforcer role for the Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers. Boogaard died in May, 2010 at 28. The tragic and unfortunate death of Derek Boogaard provided a rare opportunity for scientists at the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy to examine the young brain of an NHL enforcer.
Boogaard had chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE is a close relative of Alzheimer’s disease and has been diagnosed in the brains of more than 20 former football players. It can be diagnosed only posthumously.
The researchers at the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy who examined Boogaard’s brain said the case was particularly sobering because Boogaard was a young, high-profile athlete, dead in midcareer, with a surprisingly advanced degree of brain damage.
Did the CTE in Boogaard result directly from his years as an NHL player? It’s impossible to draw and 1 to 1 connection, and is complicated in Boogaard’s case by his occasional drug use. But the BU Center has found CTE in all four deceased NHL players they have examined. With more than 20 diagnoses in former football players, the NFL has taken notice, as anyone who has watched the increasing conservatism of the rulebook regarding blows to the head and diagnoses of concussions is aware. But the NHL seems to be less convinced by the research linking athletes and CTE.
McKee has examined nearly 80 brains of former athletes, mainly retired football players and boxers who spent their careers absorbing blows to the head. The center’s peer-reviewed findings of CTE have been widely accepted by experts in the field. The NFL, initially dismissive, has since donated money to help underwrite the research…
The NHL is not convinced that there is a link between hockey and CTE.
“There isn’t a lot of data, and the experts who we talked to, who consult with us, think that it’s way premature to be drawing any conclusions at this point,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told the Times. “Because we’re not sure that any, based on the data we have available, is valid.”
The researchers at Boston University say that CTE is a nascent field of study, but that there is little debate that the disease is caused by repeated blows to the head. They said that the NHL was not taking the research seriously.
I have no idea whether Derek Boogaard died because was a fighter in the NHL. It is hard to imagine a 28-year-old hockey player dying and finding brain trauma at the levels Boogaard showed, and not see a connection, but my instincts are irrelevant to medical science. And yet, it seems the link between brain trauma and professional sports has to be at least acknowledged by the NHL. It may not be the best reflection on your sport. But if the science points towards a dangerous, life-threatening reality for your players, the NHL owes them at least acknowledgment and caution in regards to protecting players’ futures. If NHL takes such precautions, hopefully our professional athletes will be able to live a long life, full of the possible wonders that the human brain provides.
Sports is an unusual topic for TRC. Though I am a fan of my local sportsball teams and love soccer and watching Twins and Vikings games, I don’t generally give sports much serious thought. It doesn’t matter to me if my team wins five minutes after the match, and that’s about how it should be, I think.
But this is a sports post about that most internet-friendly athlete of the last two weeks. Tim Tebow. What is it about Tim Tebow?
Tebow is not the first outspoken evangelical Christian to make it in sports. He is not the first football player to point to the heaven’s to give thanks for God’s preference that he and not someone else should score a victory point. He is probably the first to star in a pro-life advertisement to run in the Super Bowl, but overall, no, Tebow is not actually that unique: Professional athlete, dating a womand who is perfectly beautiful in that famous person’s girlfriend way, Outspoken Christian, generally seems like a Good Enough Guy. So why does Tebow drive people (myself included) absolutely crazy? I see this picture, and it drives me up the wall. Why?
Tebow is simply fascinating.Tim Tebow fascinates me. His supporters fascinate me. His haters fascinate me. The people who write about him fascinate me. Apparently he was a superstar in college, I have heard. And he is a terrible NFL quarterback, it would seem. People love that he is terrible. People love that he was celebrated so highly in college, drafted in the first round, and might not be any good. Why?
Why does Tebow get the coverage he does? Here’s an article on Tebow as a Protestant Saint. Grantland, the website of excellent sports writing and boring “pop culture” writing, loves to write about Tebow. One thing they have written about him is this:
In broad strokes, it’s fair to say that how you feel about Tebow depends on how you feel about youth groups and Elisabeth Hasselbeck and, I don’t know, WWJD bracelets and raft retreats with a lot of bonfires and swaying. Other religious players are religious individuals; Tebow is a whole culture. It helps that, as an NFL player, he’s both nontraditional and kind of bad, which makes it easy to see his success as guided by a higher power — if a dude with that background and that throwing motion completes a touchdown pass, it almost has to be a miracle.
Tebow is that big of a deal. Tebow is synonymous with on the field prayer. Literally. The word Tebow has become a verb for bowing in prayer in random locations, like a football field. See: Tebowing.com.This has become popular enough that, after sacking Tebow in a game, the Lions’ Stephen Tulloch and Tony Scheffler partook in a bit of light-hearted Tebowing. This apparently caused such a stir that Tulloch took to twitter to clarify that he was not mocking god. For real.
One reason that helps to explan why Tebow drives me batty: It appears that Tebow’s evangelical proselytizing is the most succesful thing about Tebow. Tebow plays football, sure, but Tebow is a Man of Faith. It’s almost as though when discussing Tebow, one must continually use the proper noun Tebow rather than the pronoun shorthand. But what’s the difference with Tim Tebow? Why does enjoying Tim Tebow’s terrible performance on the field make so many people so happy? I don’t think anyone wishes any ill-will towards Tebow. I know I don’t. I think having Tebow succeed in the NFL, and be around for years would give another interesting bit of storyline–like professional wrestling, having the obnoxious character around is great for the plot.
And that’s why I think that Tebow rubs people the wrong way; by playing the good guy Tebow set himself apart as the bad guy. He already wrote the plot before he succeeded in any marginal way as a professional athlete. His strong-man-of-faith principles and devout belief are not problems, they are (for many) the reasons Tebow it to be respected and supported. But that has the potential of becoming the only Tim Tebow. If Tebow were just another athlete who turns out to be a terrible football player in the NFL, religious or not, well, people would forget about him. But now they won’t be able to: TebowMania was already written into the hearts and minds of the faithful by Tim Tebow himself, long before he succeeded, or failed, as a professional football player. And that is something his religion will never be able to overcome. Now let us all Tebow in prayer.