Politicizing history

You might think that a comment or two would not be sufficient to counterbalance an entire life lived, much less a long one lived by a self-made billionaire, sports team owner, and family man. But then, you don’t think like an SJW:

Texans owner Bob McNair spent two decades working his way into the exclusive club of NFL ownership, and then into that club’s inner circle of influence. By the start of this decade, he’d arrived, serving on the six-man committee that officiated the NFL’s return to Los Angeles, holding a seat on the commissioner’s compensation committee and chairing the finance committee.

On one hand, that’s who he was—a statesman within ownership ranks who was known for his pragmatism and level-headedness. On another, his legacy will be forever marked by events of October 2017, when a comment he made at an NFL social-justice summit became public, and went viral.

This is why it matters who writes the histories. 


RIP Dr. Z

While I enjoyed Peter King, Dr. Z was always my favorite of Sports Illustrated’s Big Three football writers. His acerbic, opinionated style might not well have gone down with television viewers – he was fired by ESPN – but he was the inspiration for all the detailed analysis now provided by the likes of Football Outsiders and ProFootball Focus.

His articles are a wealth of football history, dating back to the all-time great Notre Dame teams of 1946 and 1947 and the unheralded stars of the AAFC. He truly lived a life in football, and he was one of the sport’s greatest historians. His insight was deep, as indicated by this offhand observation in an article on the New York Giants defeat of the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV:

“I want size on my entire defense,” says Parcells, “not only on my front seven, but in my secondary. [Five of his nine defensive backs weigh 200 pounds or more, and no defender weighs less than 190.] The defensive backs have to be physical on the receivers, jam them. Sure, they’ll get their share of catches, but they’re going to pay for them.”

That was the heart of the defensive scheme New York threw at Buffalo. Parcells was in charge of the overall concept, but the implementation was left to Bill Belichick, the brilliant, 38-year-old defensive coordinator who has head coach written all over him.

We can hardly hold it against him that he did not predict Belichick would subsequently become the greatest NFL coach of all time, as he clearly perceived Belichick’s unusual potential. His attention to detail bordered on the obsessive; he made a habit of timing the performance of the national athems. My favorite feature was his post-season ratings of the NFL announcing teams, where he spoke for the viewers with the assurance of a subject-matter expert.

The worst is the search for the eternal “story line,” a favorite device of production people but something I’ve always felt is a deadly trap. “Here’s the story line,” we hear at the top of the show, or “among the many story lines,” etc. No, the story line is what develops from the game itself, and as an old handicapper, I can tell you that most of the time it differs from preconceived notions. So why bother with it at all? Why get locked into such a static device, instead of merely letting the game take its course?

He was an old school man in a new school world, but he never compromised or concealed his opinions. He was also a wine aficionado and wasn’t afraid to demonstrate that he loved his wife as much as the sport to which he dedicated his life. He was, in short, a genuine man, and the world is fortunate that he left us such a treasure trove of his work.

Perhaps the best compliment one can pay him is to observe that if an alien were to come across the ruins of the planet Earth centuries in the future, the archive of Dr. Z’s writings would not merely suffice to allow that alien to understand the game of football, it would make that alien a fan of the defunct sport.


Build your own sports platforms

Realty-based sports competitors are going to have to build their own platforms too, now that men are allowed to declare themselves women and clean up in most sporting competitions:

‘For those of you who think I have ‘folded’ I have not. There’s a group of us working on getting the rules changed but we are going to fight it offline, not in the name-calling angry world of social media. I’m choosing to move on in a positive way,’ she wrote.

Dr McKinnon retweeted her commented and told her thousands of followers: ‘This is why the apology is not accepted: she still thinks what she said. She merely apologizes for being caught saying it publicly. She wants to ban trans women from competing. They will fail: the IOC openly allowed us in 2003 and revised their policies in 2015. #MoveOn.’

Adding that the women fighting her inclusion in the sport should face punishment for breaking the rules of USA Cycling, she shared that they had carried out the exact behaviour the rulebook states is not allowed.

‘I’ve been humiliated, they make me feel unwelcome at races, and saying that it’s unfair (when I follow all the rules) is degrading and disparaging,’ McKinnon tweeted.

Cycling isn’t the only sport McKinnon loves; she was a junior provincial badminton champion, regional junior golf champion and club champion, won sport climbing competitions and was a professional poker player for six years.

She started competing at a professional level when she was 10 years old.

Writing ‘Trans women are women. We must compete as women. We have rights, too,’ McKinnon later compared her struggle to civil rights racial struggles.

‘White people thought it was UNFAIR for black people to compete in sport. The very same tactics are being used against trans women athletes,’ she posted.

The Union Cycliste International responded Friday in a statement that shared how the rules consider hormone therapy over gender reassignment and that the guidelines will be clarified later on.

‘Although there are no queries concerning Women-Men (W-M) transgender athletes, whose situation – at UCI level as for all International Federations (IF) – is controlled by therapeutic use exemptions (TUE), the current situation concerns M-W transgenders,’ they wrote.

‘After some 18 months of substantial work, and after consultation with the IFs, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should shortly announce guidelines covering the participation of M-W transgender athletes. This document should enable us to take into consideration, in line with the evolution of our society, the desire of these people to compete while at the same time guarantee as far as possible an equal chance for all participants in women’s competitions.

‘The UCI will adapt its regulations according to the guidelines of the IOC.’

“Trans women” are not women, they are parodies of women and there is literally nothing female about them. Anyone who says otherwise is a confirmed science denier. However, the convergence of the sporting associations means that the only way to stop this nonsense is not through changing the rules, or defining the guidelines more realistically, but by simply refusing to compete with any athletes competing in the wrong sex class.

I won’t be surprised to see mediocre heavyweights declaring themselves lightweights someday, as we’ve already seen men in their twenties playing in veteran’s leagues as well as individuals with IQs in the normal range pretending to be retarded and winning gold medals in the Paralympics.

Understand that forcing you to publicly declare that there are five lights is the entire point here. That’s why trans sports are one of the many false narratives presently being pushed by the Empire of Untruth.


Now WHERE have we seen that number before?

The NFL is down 17 percent in two years:

Consider the curious case of the National Football League: It’s the largest single entertainment property in the U.S., a $14 billion per year attention-sucking machine with a steady hold on the lives of tens of millions. And its future is now in widespread doubt.

Ratings for regular-season games fell 17 percent over the past two years, according to Nielsen, and after one week of play in the new season, viewership has been flat. February marked the third-straight year of audience decline for the Super Bowl and the smallest audience since 2009. Youth participation in tackle football, meanwhile, has declined by nearly 22 percent since 2012 in the face of an emerging scientific consensus that the game destroys the brains of its players. Once a straightforward Sunday diversion, the NFL has become a daily exercise in cognitive dissonance for fans and a hotly contested front in a culture war that no longer leaves space for non-combatants.

To many outside observers, this looks like the end of an era. “The NFL probably peaked two years ago,” says Andrew Zimbalist, a professor of economics at Smith College who specializes in the business of sports. “It’s basically treading water.”

I really need to finish writing Corporate Cancer. The NFL is on exactly the same track as NASCAR and Marvel. This indicates it will likely be down 50 percent within a decade of the 2016 viewership peak.



Breaking the duck

I didn’t score a single goal last season. After moving to the wing, I didn’t have as many chances and scoring wasn’t even one of my top three responsibilities, but even so, I failed to capitalize on the chances that I had. Which, at my age, understandably causes one to wonder if one has simply lost it. It does happen, after all. Our leading scorer over the last six years now scores about one-third as often as he did previously; now he more often scores on free kicks and set plays than in the open field.

We didn’t have either of our goalies for the second game of the season, so I volunteered to play in goal since our two starting attackers are the first and second options. I can play in goal reasonably well – we all occasionally take turns in practice – and unlike most European players I can catch, punt, and throw the ball, but my average height is deemed undesirable in a position where the normal keeper is 6’3″ or taller. My argument was that I’m less valuable on the field than either of them, but the captain decided to put our top scorer in goal and start me at attacker instead of on the wing. Two games at 50, two starts. Not bad!

It turned out to be the right decision, as I nearly got an assist very early on when I stole the ball from their number ten, pushed it forward, then pulled it back when one of our new players – who is a very skilled ballhandler – called for it at the top of the box. Unfortunately, the giant defender who was chasing me heard him and just managed to deflect my pass back enough to make him miss it. The defender was really good, because also he managed to keep me from breaking in on goal about a minute later by forcing me outside when I tried to blow right past him.

However, the speed of our right wing was killing them on their left side, as we kept putting on pressure with either a simple one-two out toward the line or a one-two-three where I would come back, take a pass from either a right-side defender or a midfielder to my left, then pass it diagonally forward behind the defense, and our right wing would beat both his guy and the defender and cross it. We both have speed, but he has more endurance and better skill, so it seems to work better with me at attacker and him on the wing than the other way around, which we’ve tried before. We came close several times, until finally he passed to the other striker, our captain, who was breaking into the middle, only the angle of the pass was too far behind him.

I was following the captain, figuring to follow up his shot if the goalie blocked it, and fortunately, the central defender was so focused on him as the intended target that he mostly missed the ball as it went behind him too. So, I ran on to it, pushed it left to prevent the defender from interfering, then fired back right with my left foot and caught the goalie moving the wrong way. Goal! 1-0. Our attacker who was playing keeper, saw the whole thing and told me later that he cringed when he realized I was going to shoot with my left foot, which he knows very well is NOT my shooting foot. Fortunately, his reasonable expectations were defied by the result.

I took myself out about 10 minutes later, and felt quite justified in having done so when the defender who had been chasing me all over the place immediately followed suit. He told me on the sideline that he felt like he needed oxygen after all that running around. We controlled the game the rest of the half, but missed a penalty kick and so failed to put it away. I went back in to start the second half, but was mostly ineffective with the exception of one long breakaway that won a corner. After I went out again, their goalie bailed them out on great saves of two near-lethal shots from our midfielders, but finally our right wing managed to blow past the left defender and put what I initially thought was a low cross into the far side of the net. 2-0 and that was the game.

I expect I’ll be back on the left wing next week, and I’ll be perfectly happy to play there seeing as that’s probably where I can best help the team. But it’s encouraging to know that, as one of our players said, if even our oldest, least-skilled players are legitimate scoring threats, our opponents can’t focus on shutting anyone down.


Not even close to done

So, I spent my 50th birthday on the soccer field. As it was our last practice before our first game, pretty much everyone was there and our captain was relentless. We played for nearly two hours, in the heat, with only two short water breaks of about 3-4 minutes each.

I’ve found that I hit the first level of fatigue now almost immediately. It creates a challenge because I hit it about 10-15 minutes before everyone else given that my teammates can be as much as 20 years younger. So, I’ve learned to play in energy conservation mode from the start, which helps me get past that initial period of danger without anyone being the wiser. I’m also diligent about taking my guy out of the play by positioning so his teammates don’t pass to him, and demoralizing him by demonstrating that he can’t get past me the first couple of times that he tries to make a run. A little energy expenditure early can save a lot for the rest of the game, because a guy who doesn’t believe he can get past you doesn’t even try. Plus it tends to make him wary of getting caught out of position when you make a run and drop back deeper into his own end.

On the positive side, once everyone is fully fatigued in the second half, I tend to have an advantage because I’m so much more accustomed to dealing with it. My side was down 6-4 when I beat the opposing wing down the side to earn a corner, took the corner kick, and our defensive midfielder scored on the header. Then, about two minutes later, we had another attack and I made a long run to anticipate following the shot. The opposing goalie saved it, but couldn’t hang onto it, and I put the rebound into the net. 6-6. I couldn’t help but laugh after that, because as we jogged back to our side, one of our midfielders pointed at me and shouted, “How old are you again? How old are you?”

Afterwards, Spacebunny showed up with caramel-chocolate brownies, chilled cava, and a single sad, warm beer. Never mind the latter, it’s a family joke. Not the most typical of birthday celebrations, but we all had a good time and it definitely beat the birthday at the fish farm decades ago.

At the game, I was pleased to discover that I’d managed to hold on to my starting spot on the left wing, although we got off to a bad start against the league’s best team, a team that hasn’t lost since we beat them three years ago, when they literally ping-ponged right through the center of our defense for an easy goal. But we didn’t quit; I got back in time to stuff a one-on-one with our keeper, then block a shot on a rebound, before making a long pass that led to a nice first goal from one of the center-mids. We got a second goal on a perfect free kick from our former captain, then I took myself out for one of the new guys.

I didn’t play as well in the second half, as we were under constant pressure, playing in a defensive shell against a much-superior technical team. Several of their guys still play for their club’s first team and they are very, very good. I did manage a few clearances, but also made two dangerous passes to the inside that could have gone badly wrong. We’re still a bit rusty, I think, because our attackers kept failing to pass the ball to the wings when we ran forward to support them, which was a real problem because every time they lost the ball, we found ourselves 30 meters out of position. Drives me crazy when they do that; if the wing comes forward on an open side, the attacker MUST pass him the ball in order to avoid giving a free side to the other team’s counterattack.

Anyhow, I put an awkward rebound shot over the goal after one of our attackers blew a pretty good opportunity, our best guy in the air missed a clean header on a corner, and we failed to put them away when we had the chance. The defending champions never gave up, and they managed to score the equalizer on a corner in the last minute after being awarded what felt like about 50 free kicks in the last 10 minutes. So, it finished 2-2, which was a really good result for us even though it felt disappointing given how we’d dominated the first half. It was certainly a better start to the season than I’d expected when I found out we’d be playing the three-time champions at their place to open it.


The benefits of immigration

Julia Ioffe@juliaioffe
This #WorldCup has been clear evidence that immigration has changed the “culture” of Europe—for the better.

Sabrina Siddiqui@SabrinaSiddiqui
Sixteen of the 23 players on France’s team come from families that recently immigrated to the country, most of them from Africa. Seven players are Muslim. A testament to how immigrants enrich a country’s culture.

They’re absolutely right. Congratulations to the World Cup-winning “French” team! The people of France must be so proud! From the Daily Meme Wars.

I saw one amusing aspect of this unseemly multiculti triumphalism when a member of my soccer club spoke to an African acquaintance after Nigeria and Senegal were both knocked out. The African said, not entirely without bitterness, “maybe an African nation could win a World Cup if the European teams didn’t keep stealing all our best players.”


Well, he is

The usual suspects are upset at an MMA champion acknowledging the obvious:

MMA fighter Conor McGregor has sparked outraged after labelling Vladimir Putin ‘one of the greatest leaders of our time’ after meeting him at the World Cup Final.

McGregor posted the inflammatory photo to his 24 million Instagram followers on Sunday showing him posing with the Russian top dog ahead of kick off at the Luzhniki Stadium.

In the photo’s caption, the multi-millionaire fighter said he was ‘honored to attend the event’ and said he had been invited as Putin’s personal guest.

But his antics didn’t go down all that well on social media, as several online commentators blasted him for accepting the invitation.

Remember, his critics are the kind of people who slavered over Stalin and Hitler back in their day. But what world leader seriously compares to the likes of Putin, Xi, and the God Emperor? Merkel? May? Trudeau?

The eight years of unmitigated failure known as Obama?


Lame

I’m pulling for Croatia, but expect France to win on the basis of being better and more rested.

UPDATE: Horrible refereeing today. Griezman takes a dive, wins a free kick, and scores on an own goal off a defender’s head. Croatia answers with a beautiful team goal, only to have the referee hand France a penalty on an obviously non-deliberate hand ball.
It’s not that hard. If the hands aren’t waving around or being used to control the ball, it’s not a foul. This is the first time the VAR system really seems to have gone wrong.