Archive for July, 2010

Why is Tiger Lost in the Woods?

Since Tiger Woods’ scandal, he has been no where near his previous level of sporting excellence. He hasn’t looked like he is going to win a tournament  and has missed the cut on several occasions, something unheard of earlier in Tiger’s career.

It has been said that Earl Woods, Tiger’s father, raised Tiger with one single aim; to change the world through the medium of golf. So naturally this is all Tiger knows. After the scandal about his many affairs was revealed, it becomes obvious that he is only a man with serious social and mental instabilities.

Rudy Duran and a very young Tiger Woods

But the way Tiger was raised invites the questions of how ethical Earl’s decision to mould Tiger’s life was? Of course Tiger had the talent, but as far as having a choice in his career path, he had none. By the age of 2 he was already being forced into intensive training and at the age of 8 he had already appeared on Good Morning America to show off his golfing ability. Both ages where he can not make decisions for himself but simply complies with his fathers wishes. The main result of concentrating a young child’s life in such a way leaves a child deficient in other areas of their lifestyle; like their social life.

The pressures of a sportsman, both aspiring and professional, are phenomenal, especially in Tiger’s position. He was in a loving family, yes, but he had to spend hour after hour, day after day practicing golf swings and putts at his father’s will. I wonder if you had asked a young Tiger Woods whether he would want to swing a golf club or play with his friends what his answer would be.

The extremity and intensity of Tiger’s upbringing and training is not that different from the story of Richard Santrak; mini Hercules. Who, as a boy, was forced into extreme physical exercise and a bodybuilder’s regime at an extremely young age. The immoral approach to parenting that occurs around some children leaves them with a massive disadvantage as  they have to recover their psychologies, in order to recover a normal life. It is always said with superheroes in comic books and movies that they always wish for a normal life, and when sportsmen and women excel to such a level as superstardom like Tiger Woods has, it is not too far a stretch to say that he is the closest thing that we have to a superhero, and of course the media act as the slandering super-villain, and unfortunately the media won. As far as the consequences of Tiger’s actions go, they have completely reformed the world’s opinion of him, but it has also revealed what lows a childhood deprived of normality can drop to.

As I believe that Tiger was set to rebel against a life of discipline ever since he lost the gift of choice about what type of person he could be, as his father used him as a puppet and traded a childhood full of joyous mistakes and innocence to one of maturity, and although Tiger is arguably the best sportsman of all time, he seems to have lost the gift of happiness along the way, and I can’t help but think of him as more vacant and lost as he plays around St. Andrews this weekend.

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Is there anything more inappropriate than Paul Gascoigne?

World class footballer, alcoholic and now doing cameo appearances at all the wrong places, Paul Gascoigne will always be remembered for misconduct.

When Raoul Moat was facing off with the police in the final moments of his life, no other than former England striker Paul Gascoigne turned up, kitted out with a fishing rod and some lagers for his apparent friend. I think as series of events go, this is the most unexpected of all, as at first I definitely didn’t believe the ridiculous story.

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Raoul Moat eventually ended up shooting himself, unable to face the consequences of his actions, and Gascoigne went on his merry way having been prevented negotiating with the murderer by the police. Although it does leave you to wonder what if Gazza had got into the house. Would Raoul have been in awe of the ex-football star, or chatted about old times, but then there’s also the worst to think about as there was a gun involved. Maybe it’s time Gazza picked his friends more wisely and it has been reported that he is being treated in rehab, as trying to negotiate with a killer does suggest a hint of instability.

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When Penalties just aren’t enough..

Maybe it’s time we brought in penalty goals, just as they work in rugby, it would have led Ghana through to the semi finals and been the furthest that any African team has reached in any world cup. It would have also happened in their continent. Let’s hope FIFA can fine tune football to be as honest as it can be, and keep the players inside the rules and the right teams going through.

World Cup 2010: Luis Suarez's handball was instinctive, says Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez - Luis Suarez handles the ball.

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Chaos with World Cup Referees

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There is the recurring theme of chaos in the World Cup, and seems to appear every four years and every other match or so. The causes of the chaos seem to range from the huge (Maradona’s hand of God) to the less so (Lampard’s disallowed goal), but they all have great significance, and the officials int he game are there to help shepherd this chaos, and for the most part they do a great job. But every so often they make a mistake and this is what makes it one of the most pressured jobs in the world, especially as the world is watching.

It is so easy to criticise the referee, and sometimes this criticism is deserved, as what is a yellow to one referee is not to another (eg. in the Germany, Serbia match when Alberto Undiano; the referee, gave Miroslav Klose two yellow’s where most other referees would have just given fouls), which gives teams an unfair advantage over other ones simply because of irresponsible decision-making, and the consequences can leave a team crashing out the world cup.

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The referees are handpicked from around the world, and just as the players are the best in the world at their jobs, the officials are at theres. Although it can be said that there are very few referees nowadays who don’t have some controversy or another to their name, as it is in people’s nature to make mistakes. Many people have asked whether we can keep allowing the officials human error to rule the game and, in some cases, pick out the winner with their mistakes, but I feel we have no other choice. I do believe we should bring in goal line technology and the opportunity for referees to view video replays so we can get as close as we can to honest football as possible. But I also believe that no machine could ever replace a referee on the pitch as there is always human judgement involved, like the playing advantage rule and the choice of giving a card and which card to give, no machine could ever say whether a tackle had malice involved in it.

Most of the time, the referees do a great job, but every now and again they slip up just as the rest of us do. Unfortunately this can not only alter the scoreline by disallowing a goal, or allowing one which might be offside (the apparent offside against Uruguay last night, as Van Persie tried to play Robben’s ball before it went in the back of the net), but also the mentality and momentum of the teams, as they lose focus and feel outraged falling out of contest, and unable to scramble back into the match.

Whilst the perfect referee is an ideal, you have to realise that the game of football, as with any sport, is decided by far more than just referring, and ultimately quality will shine through. Germany beat England because they had the pace and the passing precision to beat a faltering defence on the counter. And Uruguay, whilst being a very good team, couldn’t keep up with the Dutch and the likes of Robben and Sneijder. But who knows what the refereeing of the future will be like, lets hope that it’s not too perfect so there is still a little bit of hidden drama that goes beyond the players, besides I have to blame someone other than the players for England losing..

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The next level of Vindaloo, at the World’s highest curry house..

If you happen to take a visit into the depths of La Paz in Bolivia, you should get a taste of home with the Star of India. Or so we thought. It was almost obligatory to give the world’s highest curry house a visit; the Englishman’s Mecca, especially when there have been sparse home comforts along the way. Not only, is it record-breaking in altitude, but also with the challenge of “The World’s Most Dangerous Vindaloo,” awaiting those who dare to take it on.

In the nervous moments before I knew I had to eat it quickly and I also knew it would have its consequences. I did not dot he challenge alone, as one other friend chose risk stomach ulcers and a bout of ring sting for the free t-shirt, all for the very reasonable price of 40 Bolivianos (yes that is the name of the currency), about the equivalent of 4 pounds.

Starting is not the problem as you can do it at pace numbing your mouth and your senses. As the meal wears on it is the matter of losing the will to finish, and in time, losing the will to live. Ten mouthfuls from the end, not only was I crying from pain, but threatening to refill the plate as I gagged, just managing to hold it back. Childishly playing with my food I manned up while the two of my friends who weren’t ‘competing’ left for a cigarette leaving us to regret our decision to undertake anything so foolhardy as we were enslaved by this horrible vindaloo.

Of course with agony, and a little help from my banana milkshake I surpassed all expectations and swallowed down the last mouthful. The people on the next table with a look of amazement and disgust, I even heard one of them say “I think I might order one of those..” to which I laughed and tried to get my t-shirt before I covered the room in vindaloo.

We headed back to the hostel, and as my stomach churned I thought ‘maybe next time I’ll have the Chicken Tikka Masala.’

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The Ultimate Test?

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Since the world cup has been going on I have noticed a massive rivalry between any American and English sport, especially by the refusal to give football its proper name. When I turn my attention to the American sports and English sports, I can’t help but think of the similarities between them; rugby and NFL, cricket and baseball, Nascar and Formula 1 etc.. But it leaves me speculating, if England played America at every sport using their best team from the similar sport, then who would come out on top?

This would mean England Rugby vs. NFL all-star team in one game of NFL and one game of rugby, the cricket team play baseball and vice versa, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton races whoever the hell is King Nascar. And basketball could do the same with football as, lets face it, we wouldn’t want to leave the most important ones out.

I’m not saying the standard would be amazing, but it would be great entertainment, not to mention that it is very commercially viable for sponsorship deals. Not to mention the fact that it would settle a few arguments, and perhaps create a few more across the Atlantic. I know the team that is specialised in their sport is likely to triumph, but it is just another chance for competition, another chance for underdogs and another chance for victory.

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