My Takes

Just my humble opinion…

Archive for the category “Sports”

What Do They Know About Us?

On Friday November 13th, I sat down to watch a FIFA World Cup qualifying game between my birth country, St. Vincent and the United States.  To me and the other people who proudly call this little island home, it was epic. (Unfortunately, the cowardly attacks in Paris hours before kick-off lessened its significance).

This had the makings of a David and Goliath-type battle except for the fact that David would be the victor,  St. Vincent had no chance.  None whatsoever.  It was our first time playing the US team and being on center stage.  I was quite happy and satisfied with this accomplishment alone but still harbored a tiny ‘what if’ thought.

St. Vincent stunned the United States by scoring in the first 5 minutes.  They were stunned and I was ecstatic!  My ‘what if’ thought suddenly grew one size bigger.  Unfortunately it was not to be.  The Davids in the yellow jerseys without name bands, had apparently given their Goliath all they had in that first 5 minutes and now had assumed their rightful and expected position.  As the game progressed, my ‘what if’ shrank smaller and smaller.  By half time, I was just watching out of sheer allegiance.  The outcome was not in doubt.

One overly-biased, at least in my opinion and I’m entitled to have one, US commentator surgically and negatively dissected not only the Vincy team but the island as well.  He did not allow their listeners to forget the fact that here was an underdog team that didn’t deserve to be playing on the same field as the USMNT and stated that the US men’s team was made up of professionals who made a living playing soccer while the Vincentians were part-time players and in some cases, unemployed.  (Such glowing commentary!).  St. Vincent was describe as a poor country with a high rate of homelessness and unemployment. (Unlike the good old US of A).  No attempt was made to promote this gem of the Antilles. At least I didn’t hear any.  No mention that many movies, including Pirates of The Caribbean were filmed there.  How about it being one of the few true unspoiled locations with exceptional diving locales?   On the Grenadine island of Mustique, stars and royalties including Mick Jagger and Princess Margaret, have summer getaway homes there.   Too bad this Yankee didn’t know this.  Or maybe chose not to mention it.

The commentator was right on one thing, we are small.  With a population of just over 100,000, getting to a qualifying World Cup match is reason for a nation-wide celebration.  (Heck, the entire island celebrate our students’ successes!) Vincentians both at home and abroad were ecstatic and showed it on various social media.  That’s how we are.  We are small but we are proud.  We celebrate our little accomplishments.  That first goal was the goal heard around the world.  The US coming back to score 6 is forgotten.  Oalex Anderson’s sweet goal is what we will remember.

Hold on!  Make that two things that the commentator was right on.  Our players really are part-timers and are all 100% Vincies.  We do not have the financial means to support a full-time team so the players are gainfully employed.  We also cannot afford to import international players from different countries like some teams we know.  So when we celebrate, we truly and honestly celebrate a team that is 100% Vincy. The return match is set for next year on Vincy soil.  The USMNT will have a chance to experience warm Vincy hospitality. They would see that we are not all that bad.  Go Vincy Heat!

Note:  Some commenters assured me that the commentator did indeed mention that Pirates of The Caribbean was filmed in St. Vincent and that Jagger has a home there.  I never heard it. If indeed he did, that two seconds would not erase his pompous attitude.

Again, it’s just…MY TAKE!

Excuse Me, I’m A Rookie Hockey-Dad

It’s been a couple of weeks since my two oldest sons started their foray into the hockey world and I am still lukewarm about this venture.   Coming from soccer to this organized mayhem, it’s a shock to the system.  Maybe next season, if there’s a next season, all that would change and I’ll plunge headlong into being a full-blooded hockey dad.  For now, let’s just go with lukewarm.

“Why don’t you like it?” You might ask.  “After all it’s fun.  The parents are very friendly and willing to help when needed, so why don’t you like hockey, Carlos?”  Maybe I’m cheap? I never thought I was but after paying a high price to sign up for this fun sport, I thought I was done dishing out the coin.  Not even close.  I didn’t reckon on the game ice fee and the jersey fee and the socks fee and the jacket fee and the practice ice fee and the…I gave up. I just take my checkbook to every game and do what I’m told.  It’s fun!  The first time it was announced in the dressing room that we had to bring $300 to the next practice, I tensed, preparing for the parental outbursts of opposition. To my amazement, no one questioned this request.  Good thing I didn’t.  It would have been a embarrassing rookie mistake.  The other parents took it right on the chin without flinching!

Did I mention the volunteer shifts?  Well duh! The team needs money to operate and volunteering either in the canteen or bingo games is a fun and easy way to earn the team some cash.  But what about all that money you pay? You must be a rookie for asking that question.  Like I said, THE TEAM NEEDS MONEY!  A couple of late evening shifts in the canteen never hurt anyone, has it? Shouting “50/50!” during games is fun too.  Too bad it’s so early on a weekend that your voice is still cracked and barely audible or you’d probably sell more tickets.  The team needs money.

It’s fun, that’s what they told me when I walked into the dressing room, kid in tow, for his first practice.  Maybe it was fun for them to watch this first time hockey dad trying to make sense of the puzzle-like pieces of his kids hockey equipment.  This looks like a elbow so it must be an elbow pad.  What’s this gladiatorial thing?  Oh it’s just a chest pad.  Skate tying is another thing.  I simply hate it.  After tying the laces for the first time, I stood up, proud of myself, until my son goes, “Daddy, it’s too loose.”  Well how could I make it any tighter?  I have pulled the laces as hard as I could.  Could one of you nice parent come help me with this instead of standing around laughing at me?  It also wasn’t much fun watching my first year skaters trudge around the ice like penguins while the other kids on the teams, obviously entrenched in the system since birth, glided like swans.  At this rate, I would consider it an accomplishment if they touched the puck once in a game.

Like a said, it’s been a couple of weeks.  Hold that, it’s been a month.  There have been some changes since the first week.  The boys not only touch the puck, they get shots on the net!  They do not look much like penguins anymore.  Not quite swans but definitely not penguins.  I also do not pay hidden fees quite as often anymore, in fact, I now leave my checkbook at home!  I still have a few shifts in the canteen to cover but from the last two that I did, they are not that bad.  You get to work alongside an unhappy teenager who is quite happy to have a gofer for the night.  Grab me a bottle of coke and a bag of popcorn!

The boys still need to learn how to stop. No, not stop playing hockey, come to a stop while skating.  I thought of asking the coach to maybe give them some pointers in this regard as they apparently haven’t noticed this slight blip but I didn’t feel like writing a check for extra skating lessons.  These coaches from what I understand, are not paid for their work.  The new-hockey-dad in me wanted to point out to the coaches that maybe they should work on getting the team to be a ‘team’, like say have them introduce themselves to each other or have some team-building exercises so they could be more cohesive on the ice instead of a few pockets of friends but that would be so not the way to do things in organized kids hockey.  And hello!  They are not real coaches!  Just some nice fellas helping out.  A true hockey dad wouldn’t notice that his son still seem like he’s playing a free-for-all than a team sport.  If it’s good enough for Sidney Crosby, it’s good enough for my kids.  Who cares if the kids on the same team barely know the teammate lining up beside them? As least they are all on the ice having fun.

So yeah, organized kids hockey is fun.  I am just being cynical and a party pooper.  All the other parents are fine with it.  They seem like they are having fun and other than the visible cups of coffee at the early morning games, you’d never suspect they were up way too early.  I should just relax and think about the big payoff when one or both boys make it to the big leagues.  After all, that’s what this is all about isn’t it?  I can like this.  I can really like this…Just not right now.

My Take

 

On The Ray Rice Issue

Let me first say that after watching the video of NFL player Ray Rice striking his wife so hard in the face that he knocked her unconscious, I have to say that the man needs immediate anger management but right after his jail term. It was one of the most disgusting things that I’ve ever seen.

Today, I read that his wife is defending his callous actions and blaming it on the media. Oh my goodness, woman! You were knocked senseless by the man who pledged to love you and protect you. He lied.  He almost killed you.  He dragged you from an elevator like a dead animal.  How could you stand there and defend the criminal?  Sorry to say but women like you are who promote this sort of behavior from men like Ray Rice, are helping to promote it. You protect him, shield him and lied for him, allowing him to continue his behavior.

Yesterday a broadcaster was suspended for saying exactly what I’m saying here. He tweeted, “How does she marry him after that? How does she go in front of Goodell (stand by him)? That’s pathetic to me.”  Yes Ted, it’s pathetic to me too.  How could she?  Ted also added, “The *victim* here … bares some of the responsibility … for not speaking up … that to me is the saddest part of it.” As harsh as this may sound, I do agree again.  It’s the responsibility of victims of these crimes to come forward and finger the perpetrators. Don’t let them roam free.

Why do we keep suspending people when they speak the truth but applaud lies?  The NFL should be suspended, not Ted.  In trying to protect their investing, they were willing to turn a blind eye.  And that my friend…

is My Take.

Sports Is Not All Sports For Some

Qatar World Cup 2022

Qatar World Cup 2022 (Photo credit: Lost in Transit [Keep St Joe Weird])

Last weekend, after watching Germany beat Argentina to take the World Cup, I found out something very disturbing.  Did you know that the 2022 World Cup would be hosted by Qatar? Don’t worry, my wife had never heard of the place until I told her.  There is some speculation that one of the big honchos of FIFA actually spent millions in bribes to get Qatar to host it as he’s from there.  Totally expected.  It’s sports, it’s corrupt as a two-headed coin.  But that’s not what disturbed me.

What disturbed me was hearing that over 900 people had already died building infrastructure for this highly-coveted game.  900! Hey, and that’s since 2012! The International Trade Union Confederation estimated that at least 4000 will die before kickoff.  Nice! All for what?  I know that deaths on construction sites are facts of life but when it’s actually factored in like the rising price of steel, that’s unnerving.   In comparison, only about 15 workers died preparing Brazil to host this past World Cup, also, only 25 died preparing Sochi for Summer Olympics. Only. That’s how it was reported. Only. Isn’t one lost life already one too many?

So next time we sit down to watch Olympics and the World Cup and see so many happy people having fun, maybe we should take a minute to reflect on the lost lives that made it possible.  About Qatar, maybe we should voice our concerns in various media and bring this to light.  Is it really worth it?  Is it worth dying, or killing for?

Just My Take.

The Other Olympians

thQuick question, how many medals does Canada have in the Paralympics that’s taking place in Sochi?  Don’t know?  Don’t worry, I don’t either.  Do you care?  Again don’t worry, not too many do. 

The Winter Olympics in Sochi came to an end a few weeks ago. At least the games we love. We watched as our beloved athletes performed to the best of their abilities. Cheered them as they raced to a spot on the podium. How could we not? It was on every television.  We heard their stories, saw glimpses inside their private lives and for a while, they enjoyed their status as celebrities.  Some will enjoy this status for the rest of their lives.

These were the athletes that we sent to represent us with funding and assistance.  They leave with much fanfare and arrive with a hero’s welcome.  Stepping off their planes into the arms of throngs of well-wishers.  City streets and landmarks would be named after those who excelled.  For those who didn’t make it on the podium, it didn’t matter.  We love them.

A week after the Winter games in Sochi concluded, the real Winter games started, also in Sochi. In terms of glitz,  glamor and coverage it paled grossly in comparison .  There could be no better story than the stories these Olympians tell.  Overcoming mental and physical adversities to do what many said they couldn’t.  Yes, this should be what the Games are about.  Readers, this is the true spirit.  The stuff that dreams are made of.

So why is it that these olympians who deserve to be treated as equals to their abled counterparts are not?  How come they are given just a passing mention on the evening sports news even though they are doing exactly what the real ‘others’ did, represent their countries? Don’t they deserve a bit more? A lot more?  They are like the ugly step-sister, an after-thought.  For them, there are no ‘darlings’ of the Games, no ‘Queens’ of the ice.  In fact, there are no faces to remember. 

Just My Take.

I Am Now Officially A Dog

This image shows a young mixed-breed dog. The ...

This image shows a young mixed-breed dog. The parents are a white shepherd dog and an alsatian dog. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am changing species.  I know what you are thinking, “What the heck is he talking about now?”  Let me explain…

I recently blogged about the way some parents behave at their kids hockey games.  Yelling at referees, starting fights and just being plain obnoxious.  Because of this, Winnipeg Hockey made it mandatory for such parents to take a course before they could be at a game.  It’s appalling and should not be tolerated and in my blog I called for banning these so-called parents from attending games.

A few days later, hockey violence involving 12-year old players kids reared its ugly head almost in my backyard.  It was all caught on tape and you can hear the parents verbally abusing the refs who had their hands full to begin with.  It’s always the referees fault.  It’s the referees fault why there’s a fight.  Refs fault why these parents would stop at nothing to see their kids become the next big NHL star found in a small town in Winnipeg.  How can we rail against kids for being goons while we act like goons at their games?..anyways, back to the topic.  After hearing this, I realized that even banning said parents would not be a solution.  I then concurred that maybe I am missing the point here.  Maybe we as humans are evolving into beasts. It’s not just hockey, it’s everything.  Beasts everywhere! Animals abound.  So, I am getting out while there’s still time.  I am jumping ship.  Changing species.  From now on I am no longer part of the human race.  I am a dog.

I am ashamed to be called a human if being a human means acting selfishly towards another human.  I am embarrassed to be classed in the same specie as those who prey on each other whether physically, mentally or otherwise.  When humans who expect their kids to be decent, (or is that just me?) exhibit behavior that is reserved for the lowest of rabid animals, I can’t be identified with them.  I was wrong.  Proper conduct courses and bans would not save this doomed specie.

Yes, I am now officially a dog.  And I’m proud of it.  Woof!

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Ban Hockey Hooligan Parents!

hockey-4In an effort to weed out the over zealous parents who make it hard for players, coach and referees alike, Hockey Winnipeg is implementing a Respect In Sport program that trouble maker parents need to take.  I am not sure how effective this would be as only one parent need to take it.  Most likely the one who really needs to take it would balk at this.

I am more in favor of a lifetime ban imposed on these parents who take things a bit too far.  Yelling at their kids for not scoring or not playing up to their expectations, cursing the coach for not giving the kids more ice time and just being downright obnoxious is unacceptable.  Then there’s the physical side of it.  Yes, these so-called adults actually get involved in punch-ups with players and officials alike!  We are talking about kids here.  Just last week, some hockey parents from Friendly Manitoba got a bit unfriendly down in Fargo, North Dakota, getting into a scrap in the dressing room of some 8-year olds.  That’s an automatic lifetime ban for fighting.

What kind of example are we setting for our kids? And we even try to blame them when they turn out like the Justin Biebers?  Forget about the course, hit them where it hurts.  Keep them away from your kids and my kids who just want to have fun and enjoy a good game.  Ban them for life!

Okay, maybe I’m not being realistic here and a lifetime ban might be pushing it.  Well how about charging them with public disturbance?  Or endangering a minor?  If that doesn’t work, how about back to plan A? What’s that? Duh! Ban them for life of course!

attention-hockey-parents_274585-540x

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It Should Be All Fun And Games

thI find it ironically interesting, or is that interestingly ironic? that the Olympics which is supposed to be the moment that brings the world together, be it only for a couple of weeks, is always shadowed by those with ulterior and selfish agendas.  As athletes bask in the glow of representing their country at the highest level, distractions lurk around every corner.  The games are not about Putin, not about gays and lesbians or who got killed in wars, it’s not about whether a country is suitable to play host based on their history.  The Olympic games transcend all this.

Watching the various competitions and seeing the smiles on the faces of the athletes and fellow countrymen is priceless.  The stories of sportsmanship make one think for a moment that the world is not such a bad place after all.  Speed skater Gilmore Junio giving up his Olympic spot  to Denny Morrison who had failed to qualify after falling just short of the finish line in the qualifier. Gilmore thought that Canada’s chance of getting a medal in that field was better with Denny.   That unselfish move is what it means to put ones country first.  (Denny did went on to grab silver).  Patriotism at its best.  Read it here. How about the Canadian cross-country coach who lent a ski to a Russian skier who had broken his?   Or those three Dufour-Lapointe sisters from Quebec competing in the same sport.  Two ending up with the gold and silver.  Olympic glory indeed!  How about 15-year old Russian figure skater Julia Lipnitskaia?  Still only a little girl but sharing the spotlight with her adult contemporaries and thrilling the crowd with her excellent moves?

For two weeks, I am Canadian.  I am also Russian, American, Swedish, German, and a lot more.  Why? Well isn’t that what it’s all about?  Or is it?  It’s just my take.  If you have an agenda that can’t wait until after the games is over and you feel the need to rain on the athletes parade, go for it.  After all, the world IS watching.

But for me, Let the games reign!

A Game Broke Out At The Hockey Fight

indexOk, it’s time to address it.  The glorification of fights in hockey games that is.  I know some may say “Grow some balls man! It’s part of the hockey tradition.”  Well in that case, it’s time we evolved from that caveman stage and end this so-called tradition. I confessed that when I first took a liking to the game of hockey, I enjoyed a good fight as much as the other guy.  Tie Domi, Stu ‘The Grim Reaper’ Grimson and Bob Probert were players, if you could call them that, I idolized.  Now that I have young kids and enjoy sitting with them to watch a game, it’s hard for me to explain or condone the relevancy of the violence in the game.

I was watching a game a few nights ago and one player had no points in 13 games BUT he had a lot of penalty minutes.  The announcers made it sound as though he deserved a medal. It was as if the time spent in the sin bin was equaled to scoring goals.  He sucks as a player but his PIM is off the charts!  Last week in a game against the Washington Capitals, Philadelphia goaltending goon and perpetual trouble maker Ray Emery, left his net and skated to the other end to start a fight with a visibly reluctant Braden Holtby, the Caps’ netminder.  Can you say instigator with a capital ‘I’?  Ray bragged that Braden had no interest in fighting him but he warned him to protect himself.  For his thuggery, Ray Emery was awarded the third star of the game.  It didn’t matter that his team was shut out 7 – 0.  Braden Holtby who got the shutout did not make it on the 3 star list.  Holtby was not only beaten up but robbed also.

Fighting definitely should be banned and discouraged in hockey.  It’s not a beer league.  There’s no need for it.  If spectators want to see fights, there are alternatives.  WWE and UFC are willing and ready to provide legitimate entertainment to the most hardened fighting fan.  Grow some balls, end the fights!  My take.

Caution: Men Chasing Rubber

imagesI am a big fan of the game of hockey. Love it!  But while watching a game a few days ago, I had a sobering thought.  “I can’t believe that these grown-ups are chasing a piece of rubber around an icy surface with the goal of getting it by another grown-up blocking a netted receptacle.”  It seemed rather trivial and foolishly funny at the time, so much that I broke out grinning.  How could they take themselves so seriously?  Granted, there is a real risk of injury or death but that’s just because they put their lives on the line to get the little black thing past the netted-box blocker.  Maybe if they played it like it was just a game then no one would get hurt.  That would make for a real boring game of hockey.

About the money…so these mature, at least in age, adults, chase this black circle around the ice with bad intentions.  For their efforts, as some of them get really adept at this, they are paid quite handsomely.  I mean QUITE handsomely.  Don’t think about it though as it doesn’t add up.  So you are telling me someone gets paid a million dollars to chase that thing for a few hours a week?  No, try millions, not a million.  Do they put on a good show? Sometimes. Some do, some don’t.  Some take the money and play like the fat cats they are. But who cares?  As long as we can eat concessions that we pay quite handsomely for, who cares if our team of grown men, chasing a barely visible black object, on an icy surface, trying to get it past a playing guarding a netted box, gets overpaid for playing? It’s only a game, right?  And last time I checked, dental work was expensive! Again, it’s just my take.

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