July 11, 2010

General Musings for the week of 11th July 2010

Thought of the day: Xabi Alonso - Good Spanish football player; Great name for a cat.

Happy belated Fourth Of July to all my US friends and readers! Hope you had a good day last Sunday. Lots of fireworks etc.? Hi to Helen B-T in Boston who wrote to say she was going to enjoy her first July 4th there after moving out last year (or was it 2 years ago...?).

World cup rant for this week - Fouls (Giving and Receiving):  I have been absolutely appalled at the level and type of fouls being committed in the World Cup. There seems to be two sides to this atrocious behaviour. The first side is the flagrant foul by someone during a tackle. This ranges from sliding in with both feet out aiming to take the legs out from under the player with the ball, right through to literally grabbing opposing players by the arm and physically restraining them from moving forward. The second is the Oscar worthy acting by players who are the subject of a tackle by the opposing side. Any player who is even remotely contacted by the opposition during a tackle will fling himself theatrically to the ground, face contorted in pain and roll around in agony for several moments clutching his shin, knee, shoulder or face.

In a just world the atrocious foul committed by the defender would be offset by the Oscar worthy acting performed by the attacker. However this rarely seems to be the case. Even the slightest contact from an opposing player will result in the 'dive-scream-grimace-roll' whereas generally a bad foul will result in consternation from the recipient coupled with hand-waving and glances in the referee's direction.

For a World Cup organisation that promotes 'Fair Play' I think that this behaviour should be cracked down upon pretty hard. Instant Reply should be used to review the tackles and any player taking a dive should be red carded immediately. Likewise the existing rules about fouls should be administered more thoroughly with more yellow and red cards being handed out by the ref's. Sure it will slow the game down. it might even make some sides more prone to playing with 10 or even 9 men after having players sent off. but - as with anything in life - if you reward the desired behaviour and punish the undesired behaviour you will get the results you want. Once well respected teams like Spain, Germany, Argentina and Brazil are forced out of tournaments not through bad plat but through having to play against opposition when they only have 9 men, they will soon change their actions.

And don't get me started on Mark Van Bommel.......

The hosepipe bans have started. It happens quite regularly in the UK. We suffer through rain, sleet, snow and ice for a large proportion of the year - including spells where it will be grey and wet for a week or so at a time - and yet as soon as we have more than 2 days of relatively warm sunshine the water companies impose a hosepipe ban to help "safeguard essentials supplies". I guess I am like the large proportion of the UK population who have a great deal of trouble understanding this. Why - in countries such as Spain and Portugal where the weather is consistently warmer and the rainfall consistantly lower are water restrictions measures rarely implemented, yet in the UK where we are known for having rain does the slightest hint of a warm spell put the water reserves under pressure? I've heard that this is because we have a lot more heavy industry in the UK than Spain and this saps the water supply. OK I can buy that. So why don't industry heavy places like Atlanta, Georgia and New Orleans suffer from these bans? They are located on a longitudinal level with the Northern Sahara, Algeria, Libya and Egypt, have large industrial areas, high populations and a large need for water, and yet I've never heard of them being put on a hosepipe ban. Things like this puzzle me.

This week is the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. For those of you who have never been to a Grand Prix I can tell you that they are expensive, crowded, loud and sometimes uncomfortable (especially when it rained heavily all day on one of the races I attended). By far the best and most comfortable coverage you will have is watching it on the TV at home. However, nothing compares to the atmosphere of being there when they pull off the start line. I attended the inaugural Indianapolis Grand Prix back in 2000 where I was seated 10 yards ahead of the start/finish line. As the red lights came on to indicate the approach of the start all 22 cars revved their engine sup to the full 18,000 rpm and the whole place shook like it was in the middle of a seismic event. The wave of noise literally made your insides vibrate (which is a totally weird feeling.). When the red lights were off and the race started, the cars jostled for position on the straight run down to the first corner where David Coulthard was the first to make the turn - although he was later given a drive through penalty for a jump start. Coulthard will not be at this weekends race - except in a commentary position as he co-hosts the BBC coverage of the race. But the race should be interesting even for the old pros as they have a new track layout at Silverstone. Combining some of the track from the Grand Prix circuit with that from the International circuit they have created The Arena circuit which has a windier infield section. This move was a result of wanting to make the Moto GP races more interesting but also to appease F1 supremo Mr. Bernie Ecclestone who has had to award the contract for the British Grand Prix to Silverstone after Donnington Park were unable to provide funds to rebuild their circuit to stage it. By the time this post is published the new circuit will have been used for practice and qualifying for the Grand Prix but the race itself will not have taken place. I watch with interest.

Finally: Who really, REALLY cares about where LeBron James is going to be playing basketball next year? Really? I know I don't. At least not to the extent the media has been covering the story over the last week or so. Tell us he's looking, then tell us he's signed. We don't need the constant updates saying nothing's happened or he might be signing with this team, or that team are 'interested'. Just do it and tell us already!


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