Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Nature vs. Perfect

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

This American Life episode #483, “Self-Improvement Kick” aired on Public Radio on January 4th, 2013.  The opening sequence of the episode follows a young woman, Julia Lurie, who is teaching English at an all-girls high school in South Korea.  Through Julia’s interview with Ira Glass and from recordings in her classroom, we learn that South Korea is one of the world leaders in cosmetic surgery and that her South Korean students face significant social pressure to alter their appearance towards a Korean ideal of physical features.  Eyelids, cheekbones, breasts, skin color; all are fair game for alterations in Korean culture.  Julia’s discussion with her class turned towards the debate over whether beauty lies in the natural or in conforming to an ideal. 

In our well-developed societies, we feel an inevitable pull towards nature despite our constant progress (sea-spray scented shampoo, yule log TV program, organic food).  But do we also have an obligation as a species to push ourselves to the absolute brink of progress?  It was thought that the four minute mile was a milestone that would never be crossed.  Athletes have been using performance enhancing drugs for years, trying to gain an edge on their competition, but weren’t they also pushing the envelope of what we could accomplish as humans?  We have schools because we are not content to wander this world in a state of perfect discovery.  We have division of labor so that we can dedicate ourselves most efficiently to a job in our best skillset.  There is no rest to be found in progress, because progress is kinetic, it’s momentum, it’s evolving.  So much as we are pulled into this world of constant achievement, many of us hold back and lean towards a life that strives to commune with and be a part of nature.  The question that inevitably follows this line of thinking is, aren’t we natural?  This debate doesn’t come to a division of whether one way of life is natural or not.  This is a question of values.  Can we be satisfied with anything less than the best?  Can we appreciate the satisfaction we find in accepting less than an ideal?  This is the great question.  For me, I’ll take my progress in steps and look for satisfaction in the pauses.

(that’s Henry David Thoreau…I never read Walden, but there he is nontheless)

Yahoo Preaching – Erik Freeman is Wrong

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Erik Freeman is a nobody (and his name’s really spelled with a ‘C’).  What happened was, a certain author was floating around Yahoo and saw an article about LeBron James getting embarrassed.  That’s what the headline lead me to believe anyway until Erik Freeman tries to lecture everybody into seeing the video his way.  It’s really stupid…of Erik Freeman.  Video is hard to fight against.  Erik Freeman wants his pal LeBron to know that Erik Freeman doesn’t think he got dunked on in a Taiwanese exhibition game.

Whether Lebron got dunked on or not may be up for debate, but his high-dribble-isolation-can’t-take-Omer-Asik off the dribble move at the top of the key did leave to a pretty terrible turnover and his lazy defense definitely allowed a dunk to happen on the other end of the court.  So, maybe the dunk didn’t happen “on” LeBron, but it sure happened because of LeBron.  Oh, and Erik Freeman forgot to keep watching the video, because on the next play, LeBron charges down the court and runs into a wall in a defender half his size and lobs the ball, one handed, to his “teammate” who makes a lunge for the ball, which went out of bounds.  Turnover LeBron.  LeBron is terrible, but Erik Freeman is blind.

Here’s the link.  Say hi to Erik.

Bracket of Brothers

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Every March, I open up my wallet and willingly throw money at my friends and family and whoever else invites me to fill out a “bracket” and participate in March Madness.  This year, I’ve got $20 in an office pool we called the Bracket of Brothers and $10 against my friend who refused to play until I sent him my bracket and his reply was, “I’m taking all the favorites.  Duke vs. Kansas, Kansas winner.”  The way I fill out a bracket is part superstition, partly distorted memory (Gonzaga comes to mind) and a huge part heart, I was a milisecond away from having my Illini take down Bill Self and Kansas to move to the sweet sixteen.

I’ll be in Hawaii for some of the games, so if my team’s alive, I’ll be screaming ILL-INI in a bar and if they’re out, I’ll be laying in the saltwater waves drinking away my sorrow.

Good luck and enjoy the Dance.

At Least I’m Not Unoriginal…Or Am I?

Friday, February 25th, 2011

“Maybe, but at least I won’t be unoriginal.”  This is one of my favorite lines from Good Will Hunting, when Will tears down that ponytail guy in the Harvard bar.  Unfortunately, with seven billion people on the planet, it’s really hard to be a true original.  I was just talking to my brother who was at the Bulls vs Heat game last night and I told him to check out for my Chris Bosh post.  He laughed and told me, “Ha, that’s great…actually, the first play of the game a guy behind me stood up and yelled, ‘Chris Bosh is an Avatar!'”  Uh-oh.  I Googled ‘Chris Bosh Avatar’ and man!  It’s definitely out there.

I feel like I have independently come up some really great ideas…you know Charles Darwin went through the same exact thing.  While he was taking his sweet time putting together his theories of Natural Selection in On The Origin of Species a man named Alred Russel Wallace was putting forth the same concept.  Unfortunately, one of the people he put his concept forward to was Charles Darwin who was then prompted to rush out and beat Wallace to the punch.  I am just like Charles Darwin…or Wallace…but at least I’m the only one who compared Bosh to the female Avatar Neytiri.  I still call it a win for me.

An Avatar Among Us

Friday, February 25th, 2011

My inspiration for writing this post was simply to find a way to justify putting a side by side picture of Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat (NBA) and Neytiri from Avatar because of their uncanny likeness to one another.  In finding my justification, I wanted to touch on athletics as a whole and our desire as a people for physical competition and even physical violence.

In popular culture science fiction movies and novels touch on violence as entertainment all the time, The Running Man, with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and The Hunger Games trilogy of novels by Suzanne Collins.  We hardly need to predict the future to see our physical nature.  The ancient Romans of our past held violent battles for entertainment (not as entertaining if you’re the victim) and today we have boxing and the UFC mixed martial arts competitions.  Even in more widely accepted avenues, sports are a huge part of the human cultural fabric.  What is it that makes it so?  This is a very hard question to answer.

In sports we have the chance to see what our physical bodies are capable of.  We have the opportunity to see the fruits of other respected activities like study and excercise and attributes like hard work and dedication.  I won’t try to answer the question for anybody else, but for myself a big part of the answer lies in being to support my local athletes.  I take an illogical pride in the athletes who represent me (albeit just marginally) and where I come from and where I live.  And now…phew…finally, I am able to write what I really wanted to write this whole time.  The Chicago Bulls beat The Miami Heat last night at home 93-89.  Yesssss!  Man that feels good to write.  And what about the Avatar among us?  Chris Bosh went 1-18 from the field and looked terrible…and like an Avatar.  See for yourself.  Go Bulls!

Christina Aguilera and the National…at the…Bowl

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Yesterday I was watching the Super Bowl with my family and we all bet on whether or not Christina Aguilera’s rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner would be longer or shorter than one minute and fifty-four seconds.  According to my younger brother’s stop watch, she finished at one minute and fifty-three and a half seconds…I lost.  Oh, and she forgot to sing a whole line.  Don’t take me to the casino any time soon.  But I’m not mad at her, not really anyway.

It was clear from her rendition and her style that Christina brought her soul to the song, she put as much passion into it as she could (it wouldn’t take two minutes to sing the song without a little heart) so it doesn’t kill me that she made a mistake with the lyrics.  It happens.  The only thing that would really bother me is if she didn’t prepare for it.  If she was too busy doing…I have no idea what Christina Aguilera does, but if she was too busy doing that instead of practicing, then I’d be upset, but missing a lyric is less disrespectful in my mind than lip-synching is.

Everyone deserves one pass, even at the Super Bowl.  If she blows the lyrics again down the road, now you’re talking about a problem, especially since the opportunity to sing the National Anthem is a promotional opportunity that only benefits her so don’t try to convince me that she’s just trying to honor the country when she’s really honoring her record contract.  Anyway, she cost me a dollar and I’m willing to forgive her, even if the Packers won and I’m not in the best mood about that as a Bears fan, so can’t we put this behind us?

Shady Aftermath

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Bomb threats, death threats, just another day in Short Track?  Well, after the South Korean Relay team was unjustly disqualified and robbed of their Gold Medal in the Women’s 3000m event, the Australian judge who made the terrible call received both.

For “Security Reasons” Australian judge James Hewish was pulled from his judging duties at the Short Track tonight.  Who’s security are we talking about here?  NBC Commentator Andy Gabel announced during this evening’s telecast that he disagreed with Hewish’s call as well, so we’re the Olympic organizers thinking about Hewish’s safety or the integrity of the races when they pulled him?  Referees have altogether too much power and this one is going to do a lot less damage in the stands than on the ice.

I do want to make a correction as well.  I said that British judge, Ken Pendrey, looked like an undertaker (true) and he looked like he was just waiting to ruin somebody’s day (he did look like that), but as he approached the South Korean bench to deliver news about their disqualification, he was simply the messenger and was not responsible for the decision.  That all rests on Hewish’s shoulders who, like most refs, appears to have the uncanny ability to live with it.

Ohno Disqualified…Blames Canadian Conspiracy

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Ohno Mug Shot?What’s he going to say now?  In the Men’s Short Track 500m final, where he has won Gold before, Apolo Anton Ohno was disqualified for taking out Canadian skater Francois Louis-Tremblay.  As NBC commentator Andy Gabel kept saying, it looked like Ohno barely touched Francois, but that same less than minimal touch is what Ohno said brought him from Gold to Bronze in the 1000m final.  So I want to know what he’s going to say now because he’s definitely going to say something.

I don’t want to look like I’m on a quest to discredit Apolo or that I don’t support him because I was pulling for him again in the 500m, but as they came around the last lap and he was still out of medal position I just knew he was going to force something to get himself in the race.  I respect that.  That’s why he has seven medals, that will to win.  But I was apprehensive, too, because when you force something in Short Track most of the time you bring someone  down in the process.

Well, it didn’t take long for Cris Collinsworth to catch up with Ohno after his disqualification, and everything went just as expected.  So, Ohno started talking and I was ready to write a glowing report about America’s Silver and Bronzen boy (with a little Gold thrown in) because he sounded good.  Of course he said Louis-Tremblay slipped and that he didn’t push him, but that wasn’t unexpected.  And then.  Well, let me just say, if you give Ohno enough rope he really knows what to do with it and ex-wide receiver or not, Collinsworth is a good enough reporter to play hangman if he wants to.  Here’s the last part of the interview:

Ohno: I’m leaving with no regrets, but we still have the relay and uh, I really want to go out there and make sure our guys get a medal.

Collinsworth: You had your hand on him, but it didn’t look like much of a push.  Do you disagree with the call.

Ohno: I do.  Um, you know my hand is up to basically just protect myself from basically running into the back of him.  So, it’s more, it’s like a cushion, you know, there’s no…I’m not trying to push anybody down or anything like that.  But uh, you know, that’s the, that’s the head Canadian ref out there and we’re on Canadian soil.  But you know, the boys skated very, very well and it’s was a good race.

Collinsworth: Do you feel like that’s a factor, the Canadian ref.

Ohno: I think so, absolutely.  But, you know, in Short Track it’s, everything’s so subjective, so I just have to be faster.

Honestly, if you took a black marker to all the points where he’s making excuses and accusations and only left the words where he congratulates his other racers and blames himself for not being faster, there’d be nothing to write about.  You’d say, wow, that guy is charismatic, or man, that Ohno has really white teeth, but he can’t help himself.  He just needs us to believe he’s the best so much that he sticks his foot in his mouth every time.  And I can’t just sit here while nobody else calls him out and let him get away with it.  Here’s a little secret coming too late to Ohno: You don’t actually need to win Gold Medals to be our Golden boy, you just have to have a little class.

Big Game Hunter

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

I’m a huge fan of the big event.  This morning I watched the men’s final of the Australian Open and this marks the start of a big year for big events.  I love watching Grand Slam tennis.  This one kicked off with another Roger Federer final.  The Super Bowl is in a week.  Then, less than a week after that we’ve got the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.  This will get a lot of Entertainthing blog time and by the end I hope to make everyone a fan of the Olympics.  There is no place like the Olympics for competition, culture, and pride in all of sports.  Then, March Madness…well, look this year has all the standards, but this is an Olympic year.  And a World Cup year.  Hosted by an African nation for the very first time, this World Cup should be amazing.  But that’s like saying, this bowl of ice cream is good.  Every bowl of ice cream is good and every World Cup is amazing.  It’s the only other place where competition, culture, and pride are so evident.  So, even though we’ve got almost no shot now of seeing Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather fight to decide the Best-Ever-Champion-Of-Lightweight-Boxing, we’ve got one of the best years ever ahead of us.  And then only four more years till it all happens again.

The Reporter Type

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Since when did America value homogeneity over individualism?  Where did reporters get the idea that we want our news read to us by a caricature instead of a person?  I was watching Comcast sports and the Chicago Bulls reporter was making a worthless report about nothing.  So I was sitting there by myself, but I had to make fun of this guy.  Out loud.  As he signed off, I talked over him, saying, “It’s comforting.  To have a reporter. Who sounds, like a reporter.”

He was bad.  Nobody talks like that.  And then there’s the ladies that whistle all their ‘S’s’ so instead of sounding like an ‘S’, they shound shimilar to a ‘Sh’.  They kill me, too.  They’re trying to be so eager and professional (all ‘they’, not just the women), the way they stare into the lens and nod at the camera for emphasis.  They’re trying to be ultra professional but come off as pretentious.  And there’s a time and a place for professionalism, right?  The local guys on Sports Radio get it.  It’s not like they can’t add a little gravitas to their program for the sad stories, like Chris Henry, but they talk to people, not at them.  Those reporter-types, the reporter stereotype.  You can keep it.