Cheating in Sport is no longer the exception, it’s the rule

Drugs in sport

Cheat to Win

What’s the big deal about Patriots cheating with the ball? It’s not as if nothing like this ever happened before. I mean, today it’s the Deflategate, yesterday it was the Spygate, tomorrow it will be some other “gate“.

Personally, I question the perceived advantage. It is known that a deflated ball is easier to throw, especially in bad weather – but surely it would make it easier for both teams?

American Football

American Football

I have watched about 10 minutes of American football, and now I feel qualified to pass a judgement, so here it is: To me, the whole game of football in America is based on cheating. How else can you explain the fact that they play a game of ball wearing what amounts to a full Knight’s armor?

 

Aussie Rules

Aussie Rules

In Australia we play ball too, but at least in Aussie Rules players come out on a field in pretty much their underwear! 🙂
No cheating ever happening in Australian sports… Unless you count an occasional drug scandal of course. As I wrote a couple of years ago, we had few clubs taking some pills “by mistake”, we had Warnie trying to convince us that all he did was take a couple of tablets that his mom gave him, but cheating? No!

And to finish it off on a lighter note….

Q: Why did the coach give his football team lighters?
A: They kept losing their matches.

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I got my Crystal Ball out, and here are my 6 predictions for 2015

2015 is here, and looks like we are stuck with it for the foreseeable future. Some people like to look back and reminisce, but I prefer to look forward and get ready for what lies ahead.
So what is ahead? I don’t have a crystal ball, and I’m not particularly good at reading tea leaves – some people might say that I’m not particularly good at anything, but I think these people are just mean.
So I’ll have a go at coming up with the list of 6 predictions for the new year, and in a last blog of 2015 I’ll try see how many of my predictions were right.

unemployment

Unemployment to go up in 2015

1. Lets start with the sad and boring: Unemployment in Australia will hit 7.2%

2. With all the Wearables popping up, the time is almost right for this part of the market to explode…. Almost, but not quite. There won’t be any “out of this world” breakthrough in a next 12 months.

3. Speaking of “out of this world” – 2015 is set to be a year when we’ll see the advertising done in space, specifically; it will be placed on the Moon. Can’t wait to see the laser displays to rival the beauty of Aurora Borealis.

4. The sanctions on Russia will be relaxed, or removed completely. In part it will be due to the increased tensions between Turkey and Greece over the Mediterranean gas fields. (and yes, Russia will retain all the territories it “acquired” last year)

Parliament of Australia

Parliament of Australia

5. Closer to home – in September, it will be two interstate AFL teams battling in the Grand Final, but the Port wouldn’t have enough power when it’s needed most, and so it would be the Swans flying back to Sydney with the Cup.

6. Tony Abbot to lose his residence at The Lodge by 30th of April (this one is actually not my prediction, it’s a learned opinion of my friend-blogger Edward from The Mugwump Post )

 

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

There is this Russian saying that goes something like this: The way you’ll start a New Year is the way you’ll finish it. To make sure that I finish 2015 on a high, I better start it right…

Cheers, everyone, Happy New Year!

Australian Athletes Behaving Badly

The Glasgow Commonwealth Games are now finished. Australian athletes performed impressive, as usual, however their performance has been somewhat overshadowed by the altercation between Australian weightlifter Francois Etoundi and Welsh weightlifter Gareth Evans. I’ve heard some people commenting on it “boys will be boys”, “just a bit of testosterone release” or “no harm done”. Maybe so – although head butting another person in a face is probably taking things a bit too far.

Sporting heroes or thugs?

Sporting heroes?

What I don’t like about it, is that each and every one of our athletes at the games is representing Australia. They are our collective face, our collective voice, our collective image.  Aussies are generally known as laid-back, easy going bunch, and incidents like this are doing a lot of damage to our reputation.

Unfortunately, Etoundi is not the only one doing the damage. During 2012 London Olympics rower Josh Booth has been booted from the games after he had “few too many” and proceeded to destroy display windows of local shops. During the same Games, our swimmers Cameron McEvoy, Eamon Sullivan, James Roberts, James Magnussen, Matt Targett and Tommaso D’Orsogna have received suspensions and been ordered to pay fines to Swimming Australia for the inappropriate distribution of prescription drugs, prank calls and door knocking late at night, and general misbehaviour. And what about Aussies at the New Zealand Games back in 1990, when a couple of our boys decided it’s a great idea to run through the Game’s village naked? Or our team in India, letting things to get a bit out of control and throwing a washing machine out of the 7 storey window?

Australian athlete has been arrested

Australian weightlifter Francois Etoundi

Some of these incidents seem more serious than the others, some seem totally harmless, but the reality is – they all contribute to creating the image of us that we would rather not get. An image of rowdy bums who like to get drunk, get into fights and cause nuisance.

 

 

Now, I’m not a whinger, but…if you put that Green-n-Gold uniform on, you are not just an Australian – you are The Australian, so make us all proud.

Celebrity Gossip Vs News

To be fair, the title of this blog might be a bit misleading. It’s not really celeb gossip VS news. Today, celebrity gossip IS the news.

Just think about it…..

Dennis Rodman making headlines

Dennis Rodman making headlines

Dennis Rodman travels to North Korea to bring birthday presents to his mate, dictator Kim Jong Un. Is it a gossip, or a news item? Or a fusion of both? What about AFL legend Doug Hawkins standing for Palmer party in a last election? Or U2’s front man Bono speaking about Mandela. Gossip? News? Search Google News for “Schapelle Corby” and the top result is about the bidding war for her first post-jail interview. Does anyone really give a shit?

Do we really care what celebrities think or say? (the two are not necessarily the same) What’s even more important, when did it become acceptable to substitute facts of political, economic or cultural news with titbits of celebrity gossip disguised as news?

So what have we got here….Rodman is breaking the United States law that forbids the flow of luxury items into North Korea. Hawkins? He was, without a doubt, an extremely talented sportsman and a bit of a court jester on The Footy Show, but that doesn’t make him even remotely qualified to enter politics. Bono – hardly a person inspiring respect. He is known for his “efforts” to eliminate poverty in Africa; however some experts say that what he does is actually causing more damage than good. Also, Bono – the citizen of Ireland, is not the most popular Irish son, all because he chooses not to pay his taxes in Ireland.

Schapelle Corby - alleged drug smuggler

Schapelle Corby – alleged drug smuggler

Schapelle? An alleged drug smuggler who somehow managed to attain status of quasi celebrity.

So why are we being forced to accept these celebrity gossip – turn – celebrity-flavoured news?

 

The answer is two-fold. First, it is much easier for local news crews to regurgitate already substandard overseas news than to report it’s own. Second, and probably more important, is the fact that the news business is a money making venture. This makes it impossible to report the news objectively.

What’s common between Aussie Rules Grand Final and Illegal Immigrants?

Like most Australians, I was glued to the TV today, watching the Holy Grail of the Aussie Rules. Both teams showed true premierships qualities, played good game of football and provided plenty of entertainment. In a tradition clearly borrowed from the American Super Bowl, we even were treated to a half-time entertainment show from an Australian legends, Hunters & Collectors.

Aussie Rules Grand Final is no place for politics

Aussie Rules Grand Final is no place for politics

And that was the point at which I just had to say: I am not a whinger, BUT…..what the hell was Mark Seymour thinking when he decided to put on that t-shirt saying “asylum seekers”? He has an opinion about illegal immigrants? Good for him! Now take that opinion and shove it where sun don’t shine, because I’m not interested in it. Here’s a news for you: AFL didn’t pay you for your political views. They paid you to come out and sing a couple of songs. If anyone ever will become interested in your views on Australian politics, you would get an invite onto different kind of show, where people talk about politics, not sports or music.

Unfortunately, this is not a single case, for performers all over the world make dubious choice of hijacking a musical stage to drive a political agenda. Today it was Hunters & Collectors, before them it was Jamie Foxx and Dixie Chicks, Pussy Riot and Madonna. Now, don’t get me wrong – I am not against expressing political views through music. Just look at the history of another Aussie legend – the Midnight Oil. Their songs are as political as they get, they never minced their words, making very clear where they stood on any given issue. When you went to their concert, or bought their CD, you knew exactly what you were getting. They’ve come up with a whole lot of hits, true Aussie anthems, and they did it while being honest about their views.

Don't talk to me about politics, go back to snorting coke

Don’t talk to me about politics, go back to snorting coke

So here’s a bit of advice to all those actors, singers, musicians who feel compelled to impose their political views on the rest of the world…..DON’T. Just because you have (or think you have) a talent in one area, doesn’t mean you understand anything about what else is happening in a world. So why don’t you do us all a favour, and go back to singing, dancing, snorting coke, or whatever else you occupy yourself with.

My Mum Gave me Drugs, or Why Our Athletes Choose to Cheat

Australian sport is going from one drug related scandal to another. In a last few months we’ve heard all about Cronulla Sharks, Essendon Bombers, and now Sydney Roosters looking down the barrel of the ACC’s investigation. I don’t think anyone’s really surprised anymore to hear about yet another drug scandal in sport.

Of course, nothing’s new under the sun. We all remember Ben Cousins’ drug scandal in 2007, Shane Warne’s ‘My mum gave it to me’ saga (did anyone actually believe that one?), Tour de France’s greats Lance Armstrong shocking allegations of 2011, and Floyd Landis before him, back in 2006. One good thing that came out of drugs scandals in Tour de France, is the numerous jokes it generated. Here are just a couple: “Amsterdam is like a Tour de France. Just a lot of people on drugs riding bikes.”

Drugs in sport

Drugs in sport

All this got me thinking. I understand the motive behind the decision to cheat. For some, it’s the ambition to be number one, for others it is the temptation of money, for yet others it’s the promise of fame. So when did it all start? When did the sport lose its purity?

The sad truth is, it all started millennia ago. In ancient Greece, the original Olympians used extracts of mushrooms and certain plants to create performance enhancing mixtures. During Roman period, gladiators were given drugs to make their fights more “spectacular”.

Drugs in sport

Cheat to Win

Once again, I am not a whinger, BUT… Here’s what I don’t get- why would anyone with half a brain risk taking drugs? Forget about the issues of morality, honesty and integrity. I’m talking about the health risks that associated with drug use. It should be obvious to anyone that long-term negative effects of drug use outweigh any dubious short-term “benefits”.

And just to finish it off:

A female athlete is preparing for the Olympics. She goes to the coach and complains about the tablets he is making her take.

“They are causing hair to grow on my breasts.”

“Ah whats the problem, a little bit of downy hair. everyone has a few little hairs’

“They are not downy and they are not little and they are not a few’

“Well exactly how much is there?’

“They grow all the way down to my balls, and that’s something else I want to talk to you about’

Footy Finals, Kennett’s Curse and Weird Superstitions in Sport

So it finally happened. From twenty points behind at three-quarter time, the Hawks turned the game around and finally broken The Kennett Curse. As entertaining as the game itself was, this isn’t about the Aussie Rules. It is about something strange, something out of left field. This post is about superstitions in sport, and boy, there are some weird ones.

So, what superstitions are out there?

Lets start off with one of the best tennis players of all times – Serena Williams. Most of us would cringe at a thought of wearing our socks more then once. Serena doesn’t mind it. She actually likes it, likes it so much that she only wears a single pair during any given tournament. Really? Eeeew!

Change of socks anyone?

Change of socks anyone? (image courtesy npr.org)

Even Big Bad Bezza is not as gross. Footy legend Barry Hall admitted that he wore the same pair of his favorite underpants for every game. Naturally, he made sure to explain that he washed them in between games.

Switching to cricket, Ricky Ponting’s level of play was not the only consistent aspect of the legendary cricketer’s career. Despite numerous pleas to get a new cap, Ponting refused to wear anything but his trusty baggy green. Another cricket great, former captain of the Australian Test cricket team Steve Waugh, played every game with a red handkerchief given to him by his late grandfather in his pocket.

Moving onto track and field, Fabrice Lapierre, an Aussie long jumper, begins every approach by putting his gold necklace, an 18th birthday present from his parents, into his mouth and biting down before his launch.

Want to have a swing like Tiger? Not a problem. Tiger Woods wears a variation of a red Nike polo during the final round of tournaments. The red color supposedly is linked to Stanford, where he spent his college days, and gives him an increased sense of aggression.

But my personal favourite is the story of Socceroos playing in 1970 World Cup qualifiers. Apparently, according to legendary Socceroo Johnny Warren, the team hired a witch doctor to curse their opponents (supposedly for a bit of a laugh.) Australia beat their “cursed” opposition Rhodesia 3-1, but then decided to screw the witch doctor out of his $1500 fee. Rightfully upset, the witch doctor reversed the curse onto the Socceroos. They lost their next match to Israel (Partly because three players succumbed to illness during the match) and ultimately failed to qualify. Apart from a blink-and-you’d-miss-it appearance in the 1974 World Cup finals, the Socceroos didn’t return to the FIFA World Cup until 2006. What’s real spooky here, is that their qualification occurred shortly after comedian John Safran travelled to Africa in 2004 and hired another witch doctor to reverse the curse.

Kennett's curse is over

Kennett’s curse is over

But going back to Kennett’s Curse… According to Melbourne master of darkness and The Haunted Bookshop owner Drew Sinton, Hawthorn’s midfielder needs to pee in each corner of the ground to help break the Hawk hoodoo. It makes sense. Geelong are Cats, and cats can give a spray. So the Hawks should mark their territory. It’s an animal thing and it’s highly symbolic.