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10 Years after the Olympic Games

There are ruins everywhere in Athens all left over from a rather unsuccessful 2004 Olympic Games.

Olympic Games in Athens

So it begins

Readers of this blog know that I am a huge America’s Cup fan.  Not only that but I have adopted Team Emirates New Zealand as my favourite team.  So yeah, this news excites me.

The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron has lodged a challenge for the 35th America’s Cup.

Out-going Commodore Steve Burrett announced that the challenge would go ahead at the Squadron’s annual meeting last night.

The Squadron will be represented by Emirates Team New Zealand. Challenges must received by the defending yacht club, the Golden Gate Yacht Club, by midnight Friday, San Francisco time.

The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron has been involved with all but one New Zealand America’s Cup campaign since 1987, winning at San Diego in 1995 and successfully defending at Auckland in 2000.

Mr Burrett said: “New Zealand has a distinguished history in the America’s Cup and we expect Emirates Team New Zealand will once again make New Zealand proud, just as it has done many times in the past.

“We wish the team well and we look forward to contributing to the success of the 35th America’s Cup.”

Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton says the team is pleased to be able to be in a position to challenge with the confidence of being able to represent the country well.  

“This is the official start of a long, hard journey. We do not under-estimate the challenges ahead.

Now the field of play goes back to the lawyers who will fight in New York courts over the boat design.  In my mind it is the world’s purest expression of sport; unathletic billionaires and their lawyers fighting over specs that well paid engineers will build and someone else will sail.  It gets no better than that.

Roger Goodell Needs to Resign

Jason Whitlock On Johnny Manziel & Canadians

Fun segment about Jonny Manziel and Canadian basketball players.  Apparently we are too laid back as a country to be basketball stars.  Someone needs to tell Steve Nash.

Keith Olbermann on Ray Rice and How the NFL Encourages Violence Against Women

Just watch this.  It doesn’t matter whether you like sports or not, you just need to watch it.  The bad news is that this kind of attitude goes beyond football, if you doubt me, read this sickening account of Floyd Mayweather that Deadspin published.

Why did the US lose at the World Cup?

Not enough good players according to Dan Wetzel.

Klinsmann spoke to finding not just a great American player but also one that will stand across from the world’s best and believe he is better. One that doesn’t go into these games thinking about just surviving or rising to the challenge, but instead that he’ll impose himself on the other side.

The U.S. needs its alpha dog – a few of them, actually.

“It’s not only physically and technically but also mentally,” Klinsmann said. “It’s a completely different ball game [at this level] … we still give it a little bit too much respect in our end when it comes to the big stage. This is something they have to go through; no matter how many years it takes.”

Perhaps the most promising sign of this tournament came in the furious final 15 minutes here Tuesday. Trailing 2-0, Klinsmann inserted 19-year-old Julian Green for his World Cup debut. Rather than be intimidated by the moment, the German-American scored almost immediately, on a beautiful finish, to keep the outcome in doubt.

“Nice first touch for a World Cup,” said Bradley, whose chip set up Green.

That’s the level of skill that has to be the future for the U.S. to finally break through. That’s the presence. That’s the seizing of opportunity. Only they need a bunch of those guys.

It is Klinsmann’s chief task as he continues to oversee all of America’s soccer development.

Soccer has arrived in the United States. It’s here for good. Kids playing. Fans watching. The national team is an engaging and enjoyable group. There is no questioning the commitment of everyone involved.

Yet once again, the Americans trudged out of a World Cup bitterly disappointed, stuck on the Round of 16, with no viable answers.

They gave everything they had. It’s just once again they didn’t have enough players capable of playing with anyone on the planet.

Klinsmann has talked about this a lot.  Too many top players spend four years in the NCAA rather than being sent to the elite clubs around the world.  He also doesn’t have any control over the style of play that the top U.S. clubs or NCAA plays which means that he has to continually be teaching his style of play to new players.  There is also the problem that MLS plays during the summer and not during the winter which means that the national team schedule interferes with club schedules.

I like Klinsmann a lot but he has a lot to overcome to make the USA into World Cup contenders that other national teams do not.

Suarez Was Here

Suarez Was Here

Maintaining Wimbledon’s famous grass courts

How the famous courts are made and maintained

“You expect the court, obviously, to be great,” Murray said. “The bounces and stuff were absolutely perfect. There’s no bad bounces. It’s always, you know, a little bit slippy the first match. The grass is very lush. So that was the only thing — you need to be a little bit careful of your footing. But the court played very well. No bad bounces or anything. It was perfect.”

Such reviews have allowed Stubley, just the eighth groundsman in the club’s 146-year history, to slip back behind the scenes, where he wants to be. During Wimbledon, though, he swaps his work shorts and T-shirt for slacks, dress shirt and tie, part of the tournament’s formality. At 45, he blends into the debonair world of tennis, his build slim, his face tanned. His temples are lined with crow’s-feet, marks of someone who spends time squinting outdoors.

He oversees 16 full-time employees, expanded to about 30 for Wimbledon, who tend to 19 competition courts and 22 practice courts. The grass is nurtured all year with one primary goal: to be perfect for the tournament’s opening. After that, the grounds crew tries to maintain it, amid the toil of countless footsteps and the vagaries of an English summer.

“That’s the balancing act, having the right amount of moisture in the plant at the start of the tournament to make sure it can hold the moisture until the end,” Stubley said. “For that to happen, the court will always be slightly lush at the start of the tournament, and as you get slowly into the latter part of the first week and into the second week, the court naturally firms up more, the surface starts to dry, and it becomes a lot more grippy.”

Any growing interest in soccer a sign of nation’s moral decay

This crosses the line in so many ways

If more “Americans” are watching soccer today, it’s only because of the demographic switch effected by Teddy Kennedy’s 1965 immigration law. I promise you: No American whose great-grandfather was born here is watching soccer. One can only hope that, in addition to learning English, these new Americans will drop their soccer fetish with time.

This is so offensive.  The fact that “Americans” is in quotation marks is offensive as if immigrants from around he world are citizens.  Plus, my grandfathers were born in Canada (I know, not “America”) and if alive, they’d be watching England stink up the joint like the rest of the nation.  They’d also be making Suarez puns like the rest of the world.

So again, Ann Coulter is being offensive while talking about something she knows nothing about.

The view from within the peloton

A look inside the peloton from Stage 5 of the Tour de Suisse.

167 people cashed in on bet that Luis Suarez would bite someone at World Cup

175-to-1 odds that Luis Suarez would bite someone during the tournament.

Andreas Bardun, sportsbook manager for gambling site Betsson, where Syverson placed his bet, said 167 gamblers placed bets on the prop.
The biggest winner was a Norwegian who won $3,300, he said, but he cited company policy not to disclose any of the names of its bettors.

Also journalists are heading to Brazil to find out why Suarez bites people which you have to admit, is an interesting question.

The Sound of the World Cup

This is the sound of what the World Cup sounds like when Brazil scores a goal in a Rio de Janeiro neighborhood. I love it.

Keith Olbermann on Tony Gwynn

Keith Olbermann gives a wonderful and heartfelt tribute to one of my favourite ball players, Tony Gwynn

World Cup financial gains rarely materialize for host

Which is why no one of note is bidding for the 2022 Winter Games

Although some countries and cities have managed to profit from well-run major sports events such as the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics, they’re far from the norm, a prominent professor of economics says.

Victor Matheson, a professor of economics at the College of the Holy Cross in Newton, Mass., says prospective hosts need to think twice about whether the massive outlays of cash are worth it in the long run.

“The economic benefit is typically zero,” Matheson says in an interview set to air on CBC’s Lang & O’Leary Exchange on Tuesday. And even when there is a modest gain, “it’s not enough to justify the price tag,” he says.

I think we know who to blame

Because the IOC and FIFA make their money from selling TV and merchandising rights, they have no incentive to keep costs from ballooning, Matheson says.

“On paper, the IOC and FIFA don’t care whether it costs $51 billion to host the Olympics in Sochi or $14 billion to host the World Cup in Brazil, because ‘I’m not paying those costs,’” Matheson says.

Sports reduce crime in Chicago

Criminals and police are distracted by sports

Researchers Ryan Copus and Hannah Laquer found that crime in Chicago — violent crime, drug arrests and property crime — all took a nosedive when there was a game on TV between 2001 and 2013.

The study, titled “Entertainment as Crime Prevention: Evidence from Chicago Sports Games,” was inspired by retired Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who, during the 2011 NFL lockout issued this challenge: “Do this research. … If we don’t have a season, watch how much evil, which we call crime, watch how much crime picks up if you take away our game … [People have] nothing else to do.”

Lewis was mocked by social scientists, police and sports columnists who said there was no data to support the linebacker’s hypothesis that sports games on TV make Americans safer.

But Copus and Laquer, doctoral candidates at the University of California Berkeley Law School, say their research shows Lewis was on to something.

“We think our paper is pretty good evidence that Ray Lewis was right. Lewis claimed that an NFL lockout would lead to higher crime, and we find large decreases in crime during games, and no evidence of short-term increases before or after the game,” Copus said.

The study compared city by-the-minute crime stats during televised NFL, NBA and MLB games and non-game days. (They didn’t include Blackhawks games, but we’ll get to that later.)

“In general, we find substantial declines during games across crime types — property, violent, drug and other — with the largest reductions for drug crime,” Copus said.

The main reason: both criminals and police love sports to distraction.

“Potential offenders are distracted by the game,” Copus said.

“We don’t think other explanations can account for that. So, for example, the fact that potential victims are inside watching the game could explain why we don’t see as much violent crime, but we don’t think it’s a very good explanation for the reductions in property crime.”

And when it comes to game-time declines in drug arrests, Copus said the research suggests that police are willing to wait until after the game to make arrests.

“Police officers might be more lax on a big game day, but it’s hard to rigorously test the theory,” Copus said. “We do see particularly large reductions in drug crime that we think are probably in part due to police officers taking it a little easy on drug crimes during games.”

The researchers didn’t pick Chicago as its test case due to our city’s reputation for shootings that earned the nickname “Chiraq.”

“We ended up using data from Chicago mostly because [police] make their by-the-minute criminal incident reports publicly available. Most cities don’t,” Copus said. “Plus, Chicago is a city known for caring about its sports teams.”

And the sports team Chicagoans collectively care about the most — Da Bears — had the biggest positive effect on crime, especially on Monday Night Football, the study found.

When the Bears won Monday night games, total crime citywide dropped 17 percent. That’s second only to the Super Bowl, which posted a 26 percent decrease in total crime, including a 63 percent dip in drug arrests, according to the analysis.