14
Oct
2010

It’s a sad day for the Rebellion. Ole Miss has picked its new mascot, and it’s not Admiral Ackbar.

In case you’ve forgotten, back in Feb., some students at Ole Miss were lobbying to get the Star Wars character Admiral Ackbar named as the new mascot for the school when the confederate general had been removed over complaints of it being insensitive.  Some students threatened to leave the school if this came to be, so obviously they’ll never have to live up to that threat now.

So, what won out over this noble space fish admiral?  What could be more regal than a giant talking lobster?

A bear.

“Rebel Black Bear” is his name … and he is boring with the obvious cool factor of our dear admiral.  You can see him below, and you can obviously see he is no where nearly as cool as Ackbar, but what can we do.

So, enjoy your boring ole bear, you fun killers.  Those of us who understand the majesty of Admiral Ackbar shall always carry him close to our hearts.

12
Jul
2010

world cup 2010It’s hard to believe, but it’s over.

After 30 days and 64 games, World Cup 2010 has come to a close in South Africa.  Spain took home the trophy after a 1 to 0 victory over the Netherlands in overtime.  It was a tense game, but it sadly proved what I thought of Spain through out this entire tournament: they came in expected to win, but scoring eight goals in seven games pretty much tells you they got through based on their group.  They did not put in a World Cup worthy performance over the course of the month in my eyes, but what is done is done, and now we start the four year track to Brazil.

Before saying good bye to South Africa, let us hope FIFA stick to its word and reviews the use of video technology.  It’s time has come and would have solved a lot of problems this year.

Let us hope we never have to hear the word (or sounds of) vuvuzelas ever again.

And before we leave the dark continent, Shakira performed the official song “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)” at the closing ceremonies.

And now we start the slow, long march towards Brazil in 2014.

It’s impossible to predict what countries will even be in the group of 32 when the tournament begins on June 13, 2014 (except of course the host nation).  My personal prediction?

Germany.

If Germany holds together the team we saw this year, which only lacked in experience due to their young ages, and they get four years of experience under their belts, they could be an unstoppable force.  They were tight, they were cohesive and they were one of the few teams that played as an actual team.  They were by far one of my favorite teams to watch this year, and I was rooting for them to go all the way, but at least they came in third.

Things may also be very different in this country come 2014 for the popularity of the sport.  Deadline Hollywood reports the final game pulled in 15.5 million viewers, the highest ratings ever for a football game broadcast in English in the United States.  Perhaps some of you are finally catching up to this amazing sport, and hopefully you’ll be tuning in again comes 2014.

I know I will be.

29
Jun
2010

world cup 2010Well, someone pinch me, because someone finally woke FIFA up the need for technology to be used in reffing games.

The other day I wrote about how FIFA, the governing body of world football (soccer), needed to stop playing around and get serious about using technology as an aid in reffing games.  After the disastrous judging of two goals on Sunday in the Germany Vs. England and Brazil Vs. Mexico games, it was overwhelmingly obvious that something had to be done, and apparently FIFA agrees.

According to The Wall Street Journal, FIFA president Sepp Blatter apologized to both England and Mexico over the blown calls, and commented that it would be “a nonsense” for the governing body to not reopen its research into technology that could be used to avoid these situations.  “After having witnessed such a situation,” Mr. Blatter said in reference to the non-goal kick by England. “we have to open again this file, definitely.”

The governing body is scheduled to have a meeting in July where the subject will once again be addressed.

This has to happen.  England lost a clear goal and Brazil’s first goal was a clear case of being offsides.  We at home could see both situations clear as day, but for whatever reason the refs on the field could not.  Both situations could have changed the course of their respective games, but, alas, they didn’t.

Welcome to the 21st century FIFA, glad to have ya.

28
Jun
2010

world cup 2010FIFA needs to enter the late 20th century.

No, that wasn’t a typo, FIFA, the ruling body for football (soccer) is going to walk away with egg all over its face after what happened on Sunday at the World Cup. Forget the vuvazelas annoying the heck out of everyone, it is the staunch stance against the use of instant reply technology that will forever mark this year’s World Cup.

The Germany Vs. England match was severely marred by a line judge not seeing the ball cross the line into Germany’s goal and would have brought the game up to 2-2.  Everyone else in the world seems to have seen it, but because it bounced back out so fast he missed it and disallowed the goal.  Take a look at this image over at MSNBC, and you try to tell me that ball wasn’t inside the goal line.  Even German coach Joachim Loew said,  “I saw in the television this ball was behind the line, it must have been given as goal.”

Okay, fine, perfect example of how instant replay could, and should, be used in football, but certainly things like that happen so rarely you can live without it!

… aw, crap.

Argentina Vs. Mexico … later the very same day.  Argentina scores its first goal with its player clearly offsides to just about everyone but a blind man.  Somehow the officials missed it, they allowed the goal, and Argentina was on its way to victory.

Look, there is no way that instant replay can be used in every case, no one argues that, but in the case of a disputed goal, it has to be used.  England deserved to lose (the final was 4-1 Germany), but how differently would they have played the second half had they gone into it 2-2?  My thoughts are that Germany would have still won, but we’ll never know the true outcome of the game because for some insane reason FIFA says that technology should not be involved in the game.

So, with that in mind …

  • Why is there lighting for night games?
  • Why is there artificial grass woven into some of the fields?
  • Why does the main official wear a headset?
  • Why are electronic boards used on the sidelines to communicate substitutions and stoppage time?

I could go on, but you get the point.

Again, instant replay can not be used in every single instance as it would ruin the flow of the match, but when it comes to a disputed goal, it must be introduced.

26
Jun
2010

world cup 2010The World Cup Group Stage is over, and now it’s on to the serious stuff … the Group of 16.

I wanted to get this out before the first game so I could at least look like I know what I’m talking about. With the 2006 final two (Italy and France) already out of the picture, it’s anyone’s guess what is going to happen. There are some easy picks in this round, such as Germany will take down England, Paraguay will dominate Japan (although the Japanese are looking unusually strong) and Mexico will probably be out. There is no way I can pick all eight games, but boy are these going to be some exciting matches.

All times are Eastern USA time.

Round of 16 Schedule

  • Uruguay vs. South Korea – June 26 10:00 EDT
  • USA vs. Ghana – June 26 14:30 EDT
  • Germany vs. England – June 27 10:00 EDT
  • Argentina vs. Mexico – June 27 14:30 EDT
  • Netherland vs. Slovakia – June 28 10:00 EDT
  • Brazil vs. Chile – June 28 14:30 EDT
  • Paraguay vs. Japan – June 29 10:00 EDT
  • Spain vs. Portugal – June 29 14:30 EDT

Who are some of your picks?

22
Jun
2010

world cup 2010France is out of the World Cup, and to that, I say good riddance.

I still have not forgotten that France got into this World Cup off of a handball last year against Ireland, eliminating that country’s hopes of getting into the tournament. The team even admitted the handball after the game, but by then nothing could be done.

Since the team’s arrival in South Africa they have acted like brats, and in a expletive filled tirade against the team coach after a loss to Mexico, team captain Nicolas Anelka was sent home early.  The team then mutinied on Sunday, refusing to practice, and walked off the field.  According to Martin Rogers at Yahoo! Sports, Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France, sent his minister of sports to South Africa to try to get the team ready for the game against South Africa, but only after he had publicly blasted the team.

France lost against South Africa today in a 2-to-1 loss, and apparently there was a bus awaiting them outside the stadium to take them directly to the airport to be flown home in coach class.  This is contrast to them arriving in South Africa after having been flown there first class.  Pretty much what they deserved if you ask me.

In 2006 France lost to Italy for the championship, but not until after famed French player Zidane opted to blatantly head-butt an Italian player.  It almost makes you wonder if this country should even be allowed to qualify any more.

Wait … yes, they should.  How else will have a team to point at and go, “See them?  Don’t act like them.”

20
Jun
2010

world cup 2010Could someone explain to me what is happening with the “big gun” nations in the World Cup?

I am far from an expert on football, but it feels like this World Cup is going to end up being a battle of the small nations. The traditional big gun nations (such as Spain, Italy etc) are not having a good tournament.  In the Group of 32 you get 3 points for a win, 1 for a tie and 0 for a loss.  Lets take a look at some of the Big Guns:

  • France, which made it to the finals in 2006 is currently in danger of not getting to the Group of 16.  They have one game left to play, and currently stand at 1 point in Group A, Which Uruguay and Mexico are tied for the lead at 4 points each.
  • United States and England are tied at 2 points each for second place in Group C, with Slovenia leading with 4 points.  In theory we both could make it to the Group of 16, but it’s going to take some work with only one game each left.
  • The Netherlands has 6 points in Group E, and is the only country guaranteed to make it out of the Group of 32 thus far.
  • Spain, the favorites to win the cup lost their first game in Group H and stand at 0 points.  They have yet to play their second game, but they lost to Switzerland … no one saw that coming.

What prompted this post was that Italy, the current World Cup champions, currently have 2 points with one game to go.  Today they tied New Zealand in a 1-to-1 match.  The odds of New Zealand winning were 15-to-1, and the odds of a tie were 5-to-1.

… What in the world is going on?

I have absolutely no problem with the concept of smaller countries getting the attention, or even winning, but thus far this year’s tournament has just been more of a jaw-dropping, “What in the world is happening?!?” kind of feeling.  I almost get the feeling that several of the countries came in with inflated attitudes.  Very much of a, “Well, we’re so-and-so, and we’re just going to walk into the Group of 16, and … oh, hey, how’d you get the ball in our net?”

The big guns have got to get their acts together and fast or it is going to be a very interesting final two come July 11th.

As a side note, don’t get me started on Koman Coulibaly, the referee in the USA vs. Slovenia match where we tied and were robbed of a goal … apparently FIFA will make a ruling on him Monday, but it won’t change the outcome of the game.

17
Jun
2010

world cup 2010It’s hard to believe, but we are already a week into the 2010 World Cup, but it’s a week a lot of teams will never forget.

Up until the beginning of the tournament, everyone was walking around saying Spain had this cup in the bag.  Apparently Switzerland had very different ideas about this and beat the favorites 1 to 0 on the 16th.  They are next up against Honduras, which they will more than likely defeat, but boy that Switzerland loss had to sting.

As we progress into the second set of round 1 games, and the second week of the tournament, so far it looks like we’ve learned that you just can’t predict how this game will go.  Did anyone expect Mexico to defeat France, a country that went to the final two in 2006, today?  No, not really.  Not only did they beat them, but it was 2 to 0, and France looked completely lost.  At this point it isn’t a given France will get into the round of 16.

No one can predict how the World Cup will go, and this year is teaching that lesson in a big way.

14
Jun
2010

Well, it was a nice dream while it lasted.

Yesterday I reported that it looked like a ban was being considered by South Africa’s World Cup organising chief Danny Jordaan of the Vuvuzela, better known as the “World Cup Noisemakers”.  They have been annoying the players, fans, television stations and more, and Mr. Jordaan was considering taking them out of the stadiums if the problem persisted.

Well, FIFA President Sepp Blatter couldn’t care less.

According to The Los Angeles Times, even though ESPN, Al-Jazeera, South Korean broadcaster SBS, TF1 in France and Brazil’s BandSports have all complained on the behalf of their viewers, Mr. Blatter doesn’t care and has no intention of banning the horns.  In a post on Twitter, he said:

I have always said that Africa has a different rhythm, a different sound.  I don’t see banning the music traditions of fans in their own country.

Honestly, during the games on day four (Monday), I don’t even hear them any more. It’s just become background noise at this point, although I am sure the players would still like to get rid of them.

Either way, it looks like the 2010 World Cup will always be known as the year of the horns.

13
Jun
2010

Football fans of the world rejoice!  There is a possible ban coming on the Vuvuzelas!

The Vuvuzela, better known as the “World Cup Noisemakers”, are possibly going to be banned from the stadiums.  According to a report from the BBC, South Africa’s World Cup organising chief Danny Jordaan is looking into the situation.  “We’ve had some broadcasters and individuals [complaining] and it’s something we are evaluating on an on-going basis,” Mr. Jordaan told the news agency.

Patrice Evra, captain of the French World Cup team, said, “We can’t sleep at night because of the vuvuzelas. People start playing them from 6am.”  He went on to add, “We can’t hear one another out on the pitch because of them.”

Traditionally football fans have been known for their singing of club and country specific songs, but the Vuvuzelas have taken away that aspect of the game.   “I would prefer singing,” Mr. Jordaan  said.  “It’s always been a great generator of a wonderful atmosphere in stadiums and I would try to encourage them to sing.  In the days of the struggle (against apartheid) we were singing, all through our history it’s our ability to sing that inspired and drove the emotions.”

While it is easy to say ‘just ban them’, there is a financial aspect to the situation.  It is assumed the horns are being made for around a $1 a piece, and reports are saying that they are being sold for between $10 to $13 depending on the area.  There is definitely a lot of money to be made for vendors, and a healthy infusion into the South African economy.  This is completely understandable, but should it be done at the cost of the enjoyment of the entire world?

From comments left on my previous post on this subject, it is definitely spoiling the enjoyment of the World Cup for some fans to the point that are considering turning off the tournament.  Drew Carey, host of The Price Is Right, commented on his blog, “People were just walking and smiling and blowing their Vuzuvelas (which is African for Little F****** Plastic Horn). I swear, those horns are everywhere and their starting to lose their charm. They blow on them here everywhere. Can’t get away from it.”

Financial benefits be damned, ban the “Little F****** Plastic Horn”.

Update: World Cup Noisemaker Ban Not Happening

12
Jun
2010

No folks, the World Cup games are not being attacked by swarms of locusts … those are vuvuzelas.

If you’ve tuned into any of the World Cup 2010 games thus far, you have heard a droning sound that makes you think a swarm of locusts is attacking.  Apparently vuvuzelas are a common item at South Africa football matches, but they are unknown to a large chunk of the rest of the world.  The history of the instrument is fractured with some believing it came out of stadiums in Mexico during the 1970′s, and at least one church in Africa claiming they created it.

I don’t really care who created the blasted things, they’re annoying as all get out.  Actually, I have been using stronger language than that to express my feelings on these things, but this is a “family” blog, but you can use your imagination of some of the things I’ve said.

There had been some talk of banning them at the World Cup games, but that obviously didn’t happen, and now we’re stuck listening to this never-ending droning buzz.  Please … make it stop!

UPDATE 06/13/10: A possible ban is being considered!

U{DATE 06/14/10: And the ban is dead.

9
Jun
2010
Written by  |  under Sports  |  No Comments

world cup 2010Can you feel it? That electricity in the air? That almost palpable sense of the world holding a collective breath as we all wait for that first whistle to be blown?

It’s World Cup time folks.

The first time I actively remember paying any attention to football (deal with it Americans, that’s its name, that’s what I’m calling it) was during the 1990′s and the incredible female squad the United States had.  I caught a game here or there, and I was taken in by the intensity, the athleticism it displayed and the fact lacked all the trappings American sports seem to have.  Where were the endless time outs?  Where were the “special teams”?  The list was endless, but this sport I had never paid much attention to felt much more like the sport I always thought I could get interested in.

I quickly discovered the English Premiere League, and the idea of getting to watch football eight months a year really got me going.  The deal was clenched though when I discovered how standings were calculated.  There was none of this “win/loss” stuff, it was your total goals.  Even if you lost a game, if you scored a goal, your ranking could theoretically go up.

I was the most hooked on a sport as I had ever gotten.

The 2006 World Cup rolled around, and I think I actually watched every match that year (and blogged about it quite a bit).  It took my of the game to a whole new level because every single game was so intense, and due to the level of the athletes at this stage, every kick was like the one that would win them the title.  It was the most into sports I’ve ever been, and I loved every minute of it.

And here we are.  The clock is ticking down to World Cup 2010.  I know I live in just about the only country in the world where football isn’t the top sport, heck, it is even in our top 3, but I am beyond excited.  If you don’t “get” football yet, I invite you to watch what is about to take place over the next 30 days.  Even if you only watch one match, do it.  Your in for a treat, and I dare you to walk away afterwards and call it “boring”.

I also want you to think about something else as you watch this, a game is 90 minutes … there are two substitutions allowed per game … that means that a minimum of nine players per team play the full 90 minutes.  Someone show me an American athlete that does that in any of our sports.

This post is also to serve as a warning to my regular readers.  From now until July 11th, there will be a lot of World Cup talk.  It won’t be every day, I promise you that, but there are sure to be games that just warrant a comment, and I know sports isn’t my normal subject, so, just wanted to warn you.

To close things out, here is Shakira’s video for “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)”, the official theme song of the World Cup 2010.