Let me start this blog out by saying, I hate racism. It’s the most ignorant, stupid creations that mankind has ever devised. It’s up there with nuclear bombs. Both are powerfully destructive, and detrimental to the progression of humanity.Trust me, I know what I’m talking about. I could write a dissertation on the subject. Throughout my life I have witnessed this ugly trait of human nature, and I have been subjected to racism since I was born. With decades of first-hand experience, it’s safe to say I know a lot about this subject.So, where are we going with this latest racism row? Recently it has been reported that fans in at a cricket match booed Moeen Ali because of his religion. I wasn’t there, but is the hostility of the crowd down to racism? Wasim Khan, the Chief Executive of the Cricket Foundation Charity and the first British-born Muslim to play professional cricket in England, believes it’s not. He stated that the booing was due to the complex nature of the relationship between India and Pakistan, rather than any anti-Islamic sentiment. He goes on to state that Mohammed Shami plays for India and he is a Muslim and other Muslims have played for them too. He suspects that the hostility of the crowd was likely about national heritage rather than religion. I don’t excuse the behaviour regardless of the motive, but my question is – is it ever OK to boo or express hostile feelings at a professional match?Let’s delve into the madness. What is racist? It’s a complex and multi-faceted issue that the sporting industry still needs to confront on many levels. The Boards, Leagues, Associations and Faculties are all theoretically opposed to racism. But if you actually look at these organisations – the people in power, the people who make the decisions – it tells another story.You only have to look at the Premier League. With so many Black players in the leagues, it is astounding that there is only one Black manager in the top four leagues. These organisations are not fairly representing the masses of our population. And this lack of equality perpetuates old-fashioned attitudes about race. If we don’t see any faces of minorities in power, coaching, managing, at the press conferences, then there will never be any respect. This is what you call ‘Institutional Racism’ and this is where the real problem lies.But back to the issue of booing (when to boo, who to boo, and by the way… can I boo?) Booing is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to racism within sport. Hostility towards players is merely a response to the institutional racism that is so ingrained into a lot of sporting culture. The issue that needs to be tackled is the diversification of the bodies at the top.But until that happens, tackling booing is a good place to start. So this weekend, instead of booing I will be cheering at everything and let’s see if I am accused of something. Maybe I will be accused of being happy, and, as one of my Professors once told me, ‘don’t ±%§+ with happy.’ Who’s to blame?
As you may know, I am a real netball fan. I was so disappointed, as many netball fans were, at the performance of the team in the recent Commonwealth Games. After recovering from the initial shock, I would like to dig a bit deeper and analyse what went wrong for the girls.With any lack of performance or under-achievement there are always questions to be asked. The question in this blog is – who is to blame
? Did the girl’s choke? Was it a coaching error? I can imagine there is going to be some serious soul searching. Sara Bayman was very critical of the team’s performance in the bronze medal play-off where England lost 48 to Jamaica 52. Mid-courter Bayman felt that there were too many simple mistakes that cost them the match. She was quick to state that the girls did not step up when it mattered: “if you don’t bring it in International matches then this is what happens.”The decisive match against New Zealand was agonising to watch. England fell to a one-goal defeat in the final few seconds in a result that could’ve changed the face of the competition. Despite a stunning effort from the entire squad, England just couldn’t hold out until the final whistle and it was young Goal Attack Kadeen Corbin who made the poor pass, allowing New Zealand to score the winner. Corbin, like all of the England girls, was clearly feeling the pressure of this high-stakes game, and no doubt she will replay that moment in her mind for many years to come. But in sport, individuals don’t make or break teams, and we can’t hold Corbin responsible for the loss. It was clear that this young player was tired and feeling the pressure – surely this was a problem for the coaching staff to address and to adjust the team accordingly? That is an issue that the performance team at England Netball will have to answer for themselves. But it begs the question – how much responsibility is on the players and how much lies on the coach’s shoulders?There will be a great deal of time for reflection after the disappointment before the ladies get ready for the Netball World Cup just a year away. I personally still think this is a great side and maybe, just maybe, a loss like this will make them come back stronger. This is often the case with many great teams. It is often stated there are three types of lies – ‘lies, damn lies and statistics’. But how much can we rely on statistics in sport? Are they a vital component in understanding the game? One statistic I stumbled across during the World Cup was concerning the age when footballers reach their peak; I find this statistic very interesting.A recent article by BBC News stated that footballers peak between the ages of 27 and 29. This is backed up by the fact that most successful World Cup teams had an mean age of 27.5. So it was very interesting to note (especially if you are a betting person) that the German team average age starting line-up was 27.7 and the average age of the Argentine starting 11 was 28.4. But then in the semi-finals Argentina beat the Netherlands whose starting 11 had an average age of 27.5. Statistics just can’t be taken as gospel.The headlines pointed out that Roy Hodgson picked a very young team, but the truth of the matter is that England’s average age was 27.4 –England’s starting 11 in the 1966 World Cup was a lot younger at 26.7, so going by this statistic the 2014 squad should have performed better than the 1966 squad… we all know that this was far from the case. What is also worth mentioning is that Brazil’s 1958 World Cup winning team was the youngest at 26.3 but their 1962 winning team was the oldest at 30.7. So what all these statistics prove is that performance can’t be determined solely by age, but it has a great deal to do with talent
. My personal point of view is that with the increase in technology and nutrition, Sports Medicine and Sports Science in years to come, the average age of a winning World Cup with increase dramatically. Ultimately, statistics do give us some knowledge about patterns and trends in sport, but they can’t be used to determine any real results, as there are just too many variables that can’t be predicted.Just look at Ryan Giggs’ performances over the last five years. It just goes to show you that all statistics have outliers.
His back surgery was 31 March 2014, his last competition was 9 March 2014, and as I said on CNN… Tiger will be back – and not a moment too soon because golf has sorely missed him.
Even Tiger’s haters have missed him. Whether they like it or not, it can’t be denied that Tiger has had a profound effect on golf (which is an understatement). They called it ‘The Tiger Effect’ and there have been some amazing changes in golf since Tiger turned Pro in 1996. Tiger is the one who pulls in the crowds; you only have to look at the stats. The viewing figures for this year’s US Open were down 46% from last year – this could only be because the iconic Mr Woods wasn’t on the course. He’s the one we all want to watch.
Tiger has had a colossal impact on golf; the amount of money invested, the globalisation and the skill level of the game. It seems mad to attribute this growth to one individual, but this is the general consensus of golf pundits throughout the world. Just look at how golf has skyrocketed in Asia, the Middle East, Central America and Australia. Yes, I concede that golf was developed in Europe and played in Scotland for over 600 years, but it took the prowess and skill of Tiger Woods to make the tour what it is today.
Tiger oozes charisma, and it is this enthralling charm that has fuelled years of media coverage and a wider interest in the game. With this increase in popularity comes more sponsorship, more television rights, bringing even more money to the game. The TV channels need Tiger back to revitalise their waning viewing figures, but the sponsors need him too. It has been suggested that Nike might have been the biggest beneficiary from ‘The Tiger Effect’, but Nike’s competition are also indebted to him. When he is absent from the game, or even getting less of the PGA spotlight, almost every brand suffers. But the biggest victims in Tiger’s absence have to be the fans. Nothing beats the pleasure of watching Tiger glide across the golf course displaying a dexterity and precision that is just exquisite to behold.
Yes, golf has missed Tiger Woods. I am usually a strong advocate of the fact that no individual is bigger than the game, but that said, golf without Tiger is like peanut butter with jelly, the Yankees without their pinstripes and Beyonce without her dance moves.
Good luck and do your thing Tiger!
As Wimbledon rolls around I have been thinking back to the greatness of John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. And with Luis Suarez being the man on everybody’s lips at the moment, I couldn’t help but think about what these iconic sports stars have in common. It is not only greatness… they are all famous for having lost control on the playing field. Is it anger? Frustration? Passion? Call it what you may, but each of these guys ‘crossed the line’ in the eyes of the public. For the life of me I have been trying to understand what it’s all about. Suarez’s situation is such a pity: I think we are going to lose one of the best footballers from the World Cup because of nothing but pure stupidity.What’s with this behaviour? How could Suarez go so far? Some sports psychologists say that it can happen in high-pressure situations concerning winning and losing. When people get angry the heart beats faster, blood pressure rises and then testosterone levels can rise, that’s when people lose control. Psychologist Dr Saima Latif, feels that Suarez’s behaviour of biting is a habitual and a child-like behaviour. He goes on to state that biting is an act of frustration, stress and loss of control. At the time of the incident Suarez is likely to have felt humiliated and put down in some way and wanted to get one over on his opponent. Most people know how to deal with such emotions in an adult environment. Somewhere along the line in his life as a young boy he was never taught how to deal with these types of frustrations in a normal, rational manner. It is stated that perhaps his biting started as a young child and was triggered by something; perhaps he was bitten himself. In any event, he needs help.I don’t mean to trivialise this in any way, but I almost agree with the sentiments of Ian Wright when he said he feels sorry for him. Regardless of his status, talent or salary, the fact of the matter is that the boy needs help. Suarez’s embarrassing attempts to deny culpability and shift the blame is further evidence of a childlike mentality. If you have children then you’ll know all too well that when they are confronted with the consequences of their actions they will try to deflect the blame or change the story. The crucial element of Suarez’s story is that this is not a one-off – he has a history.So, here we are at one of the World’s greatest sporting events and the talking point thus far is not the great goals that Van Persie, Messi or Suarez have scored; we are all talking about Luis Suarez’s sinking his teeth into his opponent. I will be surprised if Suarez is allowed to play on, which would really be a pity for the World Cup in general. Let’s hope that wherever this fantastic athlete plays next year – whether it’s Liverpool or somewhere in Spain – he is able to get psychological help so that we can talk about his greatness as a footballer!