By Colby Cosh - Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 0 Comments
Paul Gascoigne, probably the most beloved English footballer now alive whose name is not found on the roster of the 1966 World Cup side, is in a bad way, according to the UK newspapers. “Gazza” made a horrifying appearance at a hundred-quid charity dinner last weekend, bursting into tears repeatedly after being helped onto the dais and eventually shouting obscenities at the audience. Celebrity friends have since bundled him off to a rehab centre in Arizona, where it is hoped he will tie the proverbial knot at the end of his rope. Unfortunately, it seems the first thing he did when he disembarked the plane was to look for a drink.
Broke, estranged from his family, and visibly ill, Gascoigne appears to be enacting a slow public suicide with resemblances to the fate of Northern Ireland great George Best. But where Best remained happy-go-lucky well into his second liver, Gascoigne gives an impression of constant struggle. He seems to want to get well and has spent long periods sober.
It is a reminder, as contact sports such as football and hockey come under greater scientific and ethical scrutiny, that it can be hard to separate the sinister neurological effects of chronic trauma from the purely psychological effects of having a sporting career come to an end. If Gazza had been a linebacker in American football, people would make bleak jokes about how blows to the head were responsible for his dismal state. Since his game was soccer, it’s hard to assign his condition to anything but the horrors of being philosophically unprepared, or just innately unsuited, for the difficult role of ex-athlete.
By Scott Feschuk - Friday, January 18, 2013 at 12:44 PM - 0 Comments
San Francisco (minus 4) at Atlanta, Sunday, 3 p.m. ET
Scott Reid: As Earthlings everywhere cheered the Niners’ triumph over Green Bay last week, the rise of K-fever reached near epidemic levels. Squillions hopped aboard the Kaepernick bandwagon (wave to me – I’m in the Montana jersey near the window). What a day! In addition to breaking the single-game record for rushing by a quarterback, outdueling Aaron “The Consensus Greatest QB In The Game” Rodgers and winning the Golden Globe in the category of Best Snapback Not Worn By L’il Wayne….
…Kaepernick managed to dazzle America with his mythmaking instincts. The SF QB took the unusual step of releasing a letter he had written to himself in Grade Four. In it, the pre-tatted Kaepernick…. mused that he would one day ‘…go to the pro’s and play on the Niners.’ And lo and behold… here he is. Journalists and fans alike heralded the precognitive prowess of Continue…
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 11:30 AM - 0 Comments
Famed soccer squad, Chivas, pushes Mexico to rethink what it means to be Mexican
Herculez Gómez was born to Mexican parents, plays pro soccer in Mexico and switches seamlessly between Spanish and English. But he was born in the U.S., and suits up for Team USA when playing internationally—which means he’s not Mexican enough for the fabled fútbol franchise, Chivas.
For decades, the Guadalajara-based club, the country’s most storied and popular team, has strictly adhered to a policy of signing only domestic players. But with mass migration and Mexican attitudes toward foreigners changing—and a domestic league awash with imported stars—the club may be forced to chuck its antiquated approach. After all, “it’s increasingly difficult to find Mexican players that are going to win you the league,” says Guadalajara-based soccer journalist Tom Marshall.
Chivas, whose rabid fan base tops 30 million, hasn’t won a championship since 2006. The on-field futility is fuelling talk of the unimaginable: according to a recent ESPN report, Chivas was interested in Gómez. The football club, in denying the claim, said it would welcome anyone who fit the legal definition of Mexican—though not if they play for another country internationally. Continue…
By Susan Mohammad - Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 10:00 PM - 0 Comments
After he bought his first motorcycle, riding became his passion. He spent all of his free time on his bike.
Benjamin John Eldridge Collins was born at the Lakeshore General Hospital in Pointe-Claire, Que., on Sept. 28, 1989. His father, Ken, who worked for Air Canada as an IT specialist, and his mother, Kelley Huskins, then a homemaker, had broken up, but they were reunited by Ben’s birth and remained together for one more year.
Kelley called Ben her “miracle baby.” A year before his birth, doctors had told her she would never be able to have children, the result of a terrible accident that nearly took her life. Kelley had been thrown from a motorcycle and pinned beneath its back tire; her best friend, who’d been driving the bike, was killed in the crash.
“From day one he was a happy-go-lucky kid,” she says. His uncle Rick called him the “drool machine,” because he never stopped smiling.
By Colby Cosh - Thursday, August 23, 2012 at 10:12 AM - 0 Comments
The Canada-U.S. match will make converts of thousands of fans
“The greatest knockout match in major-tournament football since 1982.” That was the unexpected headline of the Aug. 7 edition of the Guardian’s daily tea-time soccer column, The Fiver. The Fiver is one of those satirical newspaper entities Canada is too self-conscious to harbour, weaving outrageous lies, nonsense, running gags and unspeakable truths into a sort of cryptic crossword for the cognoscenti. But the Aug. 7 edition seems to have been written in breathless, slightly stunned earnest. The previous evening’s Olympic semifinal matchup between the Canadian and American women’s soccer teams, Fiver testified, was “the greatest knockout match in major-tournament football since West Germany beat France in the semifinal of the 1982 World Cup.”
Cheeky Fiver is always looking for excuses to deprecate the state of the first-class men’s game. But the actual joke here is that it is awfully difficult to refute their headline. Canada’s 4-3 extra-time loss to the U.S., complete with the bizarre and inexplicable referee’s ruling that helped determine the outcome, will transcend the Games of which they were a part. It should, without doubt, convert thousands of young Canadian girls to soccer, and thousands of Canadian soccer fans to the virtues of the women’s game.
Yes, those virtues are subtle. Top women’s games are short on inspired footwork and three-dimensional flourishes like bicycle kicks. But with the relative lack of artistry comes a compensating freedom from hypersensitive artist nonsense. The emphasis is on strategy, teamwork and pluck. Men who dismiss women’s sports out of hand may not be aware of this paradox: as the Canada-U.S. game showed, the “male” qualities of willpower and toughness may be more important, not less, in an environment without extreme individual talents.
By Chris Sorensen - Thursday, August 23, 2012 at 10:06 AM - 0 Comments
Manchester United is a hugely valuable sports brand, but comes up empty for investors
With star players like Wayne Rooney, Manchester United may be one of the best-known soccer clubs on the planet, but it’s proving to be a curse for businesses trying to cash in on its popularity.
The 134-year-old club’s American owners, led by businessman Malcolm Glazer, were disappointed last week when an IPO of the team failed to thrill investors. Shares barely budged above the offering price of US$14, which itself was well below the US$16 to US$20 that had originally been advertised. The cash would have gone a long way to paying down the debt incurred by the team when the Glazer family purchased it for $1.47 billion in 2005, freeing up money to buy more top-flight talent to play at Old Trafford.
Meanwhile, Dan Akerson, the chief executive of General Motors, is dealing with the fallout of a controversial sponsorship deal the U.S. automaker recently signed with “Man U.” The automaker’s head marketer, Joel Ewanick, was recently fired amid reports he inked a seven-year, $560-million agreement with the team without telling higher-ups the total cost. GM has since renegotiated certain aspects of the deal, which will see GM’s Chevrolet logo splashed on players’ jerseys.
By Charlie Gillis - Friday, July 27, 2012 at 8:40 AM - 0 Comments
Football pundits are buzzing about an uncalled trip during a tie game
Football pundits here are buzzing—okay, howling—this morning about Britain’s 1-1 result against lower-ranked Senegal, due to an uncalled trip late in the game that should have given the hosts a penalty kick and, presumably, a first-round win.
The oversight was the coup de grace in game marred by rough play on the part of the Senegalese, to which Uzbek referee Ravshan Irmatov was curiously oblivious. “I don’t know how many fouls their No. 10 [Sadio Mane] had, but in a Premier League game he’d probably have been sent off three times,” Brit midfielder Ryan Giggs complained afterward.
No one’s accusing Irmatov of misconduct. But watch Saliou Ciss’s hack on British forward Craig Bellamy, and you can understand why rumours persist that match-fixers are sniffing around the Olympic tournament as surely as they have every other level of the beautiful game.
Declan Hill, the presiding world expert on soccer corruption, weighed in before yesterday’s game, assuring his blog readers that the fixers are in London doing their best to shave points and set results.
Hill, a Canadian who has lived in Britain, has no proof. But his speculation is well-informed: he’s one of the few non-criminals to have crawled inside the seedy world of Asian gambling and its global match-rigging apparatus. His 2009 book The Fix chronicled how organized criminals seek to influence the scores even of under-17 and under-20 games on the other side of the world, then reap big winnings in betting rings in Manila and Bangkok (the Olympic men’s event is a modified under-23 tournament; the women’s has no age restriction).
“Surely, no athlete would want to ruin their chances of Olympic glory,” Hill stated mockingly on his blog, before adding:
Try not to be naïve. In the Olympic soccer tournament there are only a few teams that have any chance of gaining a medal, let alone winning the whole thing. Any realist connected with sport knows that fact. They also know that the players will be running into sold-out stadiums, the games will be broadcast to hundreds of millions of people around the world and that someone, somewhere, is making a lot of money from the sponsors, but that often those people are not the athletes who are actually playing the game. Add to this that many of the athletes and referees are poor people from poor countries who have few chances in their careers to make good money and when they do, often their own sports officials deprive them of a proper reward.
This is the key dynamic that drives sports corruption – exploitation of the players/referees – until it stops fixers can reasonably expect that some of the athletes/referees will listen to them.
It would be easy to wave away Hill’s warnings if he hadn’t been right about fixing of exhibition games in advance of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Or if the fixers hadn’t been trying to rig matches at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Or if European soccer hadn’t been rocked by a series of rigging scandals that reached the highest echelons of the sport.
Olympic organizers were worried enough that they assigned a security team to the task of keep match-riggers away from athletes and officials.
Again, no one’s pointing fingers at players, managers or officials involved in the Britain-Senegal game.
But Irmatov could do a lot to ease fears by getting things right in his next outing.
By Leah McLaren - Monday, February 20, 2012 at 11:10 AM - 0 Comments
A football-obsessed nation waits to see who will lead the nation’s squad
Apart from the country’s highest elected ofﬁce, there may be no British job so heavily scrutinized and culturally signiﬁcant as that of manager of England’s football team. Britain, like the rest of Europe, is obsessed by football. And while its domestic leagues attract the best international players, making it one of the richest and most powerful sports franchises on earth, its national team has failed to win a major championship since 1966. To say fans here are a tad bummed out about this is like saying Charlie Sheen has a bit of an ego problem. Indeed, when it comes to football, Britain is as much a nation deﬁned by bitter disappointment and nostalgia for past victories as it is by an enduring love for its national game.
This swell of collective emotion is why, when Fabio Capello abruptly quit his position as team manager last week, England responded with a heavily qualiﬁed hip-hip-hurrah! Qualiﬁed, because the surprise resignation plunges the team even deeper into an ongoing leadership crisis just months before the next European championship in June. Hurrah, however, because Capello had long been criticized by fans and commentators alike on two counts: 1) he failed to take the team further than the second round at the last World Cup, and 2) after four years of earning $9.5 million per annum for coaching just a dozen or so games a year, his command of the English language showed little, if any, improvement.
To his credit, Capello resigned on principle. His dispute with the Football Association, over whether team captain John Terry should be stripped of his arm band pending a trial set for July over allegations of racist remarks, was a matter of professional integrity (though it didn’t make British fans any sorrier to see him go). Earlier this month, Capello gave a candid interview on Italian state television in which he declared he “absolutely” disagreed with his bosses’ decision to strip Terry of his captaincy pending his trial for racial abuse of another player, the Queens Park Rangers’ Anton Ferdinand. “I have spoken to the [FA] chairman and I have said that in my opinion one cannot be punished until it is ofﬁcial and the court—a non-sport court, a civil court—had made a decision to decide if John Terry has done what he is accused of.”
By Emma Teitel - Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at 10:30 AM - 0 Comments
Why Joe Paterno is a perfect poster boy for Phil Knight’s sportswear giant
Nike founder and professional provocateur Phil Knight gave an Oscar-worthy performance at Joe Paterno’s massive memorial last week, admonishing university ofﬁcials for allegedly disgracing the late, great football coach (the winningest in Penn State history) before his death on Jan. 22. Paterno, who passed away from lung cancer at 85, was ousted from his near-half-century post as Penn State’s football coach in November, for his lacklustre response to the sexual abuse accusations made against his long-time assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky—now regarded as likely a career pedophile (he has since been accused of molesting several other children on Penn State’s campus). When now-assistant coach Mike McQueary tried to alert Paterno to that probability in 2002 (McQueary says he saw Sandusky raping a boy in the Penn State showers), Paterno informed his superiors, who, in turn, informed nobody else. Paterno, apparently thinking he had done enough, let the matter lie, effectively turning a blind eye to his colleague’s behaviour. In short, he obeyed the technical letter of the law, but seriously abused its spirit.
This is something Nike—under the aegis of its founder and chairman—has been doing for years, which makes Knight’s apologia at Paterno’s memorial all the more perversely appropriate. It’s no secret, for example, that Knight’s shoe empire has enraged labour rights groups across the globe for its maltreatment of workers and violation of child labour laws. But Knight has consistently maintained that what appear to be Nike’s ethical violations actually belong to someone else. As one anti-Nike blog puts it, Knight “claimed that the employees who were exploited weren’t officially ‘Nike’s employees,’ but were instead employees of other businesses contracted to source Nike’s shoes.” This is almost exactly the same rationale Knight extended to Paterno’s actions in his memorial speech, when he proclaimed before a packed auditorium at Penn State that the coach “gave full disclosure to his superiors” and “if there is a villain in this tragedy, it lies in that investigation and not in Joe Paterno.” But the villain in the tragedy is neither the “investigation” nor Joe Paterno. The villain is Jerry Sandusky. What Knight misses in his blanket defence of Paterno is Edmund Burke’s dictum: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Or that good men do less than they should. It isn’t only bad guys who are capable of doing bad things.
By Ken MacQueen - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 8:50 AM - 3 Comments
Grande Prairie Composite Warriors coach Rick Gilson in conversation with Ken MacQueen
Rick Gilson has coached 57 football teams over the past 30 years. This season—his 25th as football coach of the Grande Prairie Composite Warriors, and his eighth as principal at the northwestern Alberta high school—began full of promise. Then, just after midnight on Saturday, Oct. 22, a car carrying five team members home from a party collided with a pickup driven by a 21-year-old. Four Warriors died at the scene, the lone survivor in the car went to hospital in a coma. The pickup driver faces charges of impaired driving causing death. The team elected to play on, finishing the most difficult season the Warriors have ever known.
Q: Let’s start with congratulations. Last week the National Football League named you Canada’s youth coach of the year.
A: It is very definitely an honour and one I’m accepting on behalf of the whole team and everyone who’s been involved in getting us through the past several weeks.
Q: How big is football to Grande Prairie Composite and to you?
A: Football is important to me, something I didn’t want to give up when I went into administration. It’s important for what I think it can do for young men.
Q: What else do players take off the field beyond the usual scrapes and bruises?
A: My philosophy is not so much to make university players or CFL players as much as it is to try to get some core values across. I say this to the boys: it’s important to me that you go on to be great husbands, great fathers, great employees and great employers.
Q: Then came the accident. You were awakened with the news.
A: My son knocked on our bedroom door. He’s a starting corner and a Grade 12 player on our team. He said, “Dad, one of the guys called and there’s been an accident.” I got hold of an RCMP officer at the scene. We worked from there to begin to realize the scope of what had gone wrong, and that Zach [Judd] was in hospital. We headed to the hospital and were able to get there before Zach’s parents. My son accompanied me. The Judd family arrived and we were able to provide some comfort and support to them. I worked through the remainder of the night with the RCMP to help in the identification process. I accompanied the RCMP to the homes of the families to notify them.
Q: It must have been such a difficult night.
A: It was important that there be somebody there that they know.
Q: Vincent Stover, 16, Walter Borden-Wilkins, 15, Matthew Deller, 16, Tanner Hildebrand, 15, all dead, and Zachary Judd, 15, in a coma. How do you prepare the school for such a loss?
A: As we finished the notification of families, it shifted to the need to let my staff know. We met at the school at 10:30 Saturday morning. We also began the process of getting all the players, the managers and their parents together at 11:30. Many of the players knew that there had been an accident. They knew that Zach had been badly injured and that two players had passed away. They didn’t know that there were actually five in the car. The hardest part was telling the team that they didn’t lose two teammates, they lost four. That was very, very difficult. The discussion was how we’re going to get through the next hour, and then the next hour. Then the emphasis was on us healing and focusing on being supportive of each other. Focusing on compassion and mercy over anger and any ideas of revenge. We were definitely upset that it involved an alleged drunk driver, but we focused on mercy toward the driver.
Q: How was that message of compassion received? You’re asking so much of the family and friends of these boys.
A: It was received very well. I still feel today very saddened by this boy’s choices. It’s something I say to students in my office: we get to choose what we’re going to do, we don’t get to choose the consequences of what we do.
Q: Too many principals in their careers deal with the consequences of drunk drivers. Why must this lesson constantly be relearned?
A: There is no learning where nothing changes. Unfortunately, I don’t understand it. I personally don’t drink at all. It seems to me that somehow, some way, there’s only a superficial belief that you shouldn’t drive drunk.
Q: You’re a religious man of the Mormon faith. Did you have words with your God after this?
A: My God and everybody else’s is probably the same God. Personal prayer and a belief in the eternal nature of man definitely helps me get through this. The belief that these young boys are in good hands, that we will have an opportunity to be reunited. It’s not going to happen right away but I firmly believe it will happen. That helps me get through the day, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t shed an awful lot of tears at their loss.
Q: Was it your decision or the team’s to finish the football season?
A: Our decision. It was a collective.
Q: What did they draw from playing on?
A: To not have played is a decision you would have made in an emotional moment. By making a decision to play you had a place you could go to step out of the grieving process. It wasn’t easy. At first it was very solemn, like they were afraid to laugh and enjoy themselves. I said, “What do you think the boys would say?” Vince and Matt, the two Grade 11s, were very focused on getting the Peace Bowl, the league championship. If you don’t play, these guys are going to chase us around and haunt us, and you know it.
Q: What was the impact on Grande Prairie Composite and the larger community?
A: We didn’t anticipate the broad response for mercy and compassion. That did resonate far further than I ever thought. People who had gone through similar events on smaller scales had been holding high levels of resentment and anger forever. They sent notes and emails saying, “Thank you for this, it allowed me to let go.” And we didn’t expect, request, or desire to have such a broad nationwide response to us continuing to play. We drew inspiration from the people writing us to say they were inspired.
Q: You visited Zach this weekend. How is he?
A: At the time, I said to [the team] you have to prepare yourself, Zach could die. But with each passing day the worst-case scenario is moving closer to the best-case scenario. He woke up [from a coma] about 10 days after the accident. He spit out his respirator and started breathing on his own. He’s looking better every day. It’s a miracle, quite honestly. He’s still got a lot to do to [regain] movement, and the [mental] processing is delayed. There’s lots of reason for hope there. He doesn’t yet know the full scope of the accident. There will come a time when that conversation will have to take place.
Q: Two trust funds have been established.
A: The Warrior Fund is to support all five families, to help with the expenses they’ve experienced and to support the families moving forward, and in honouring their sons in some way. The Zach Judd Fund is to support Zach himself. Even though Zach has made tremendous progress from when I saw him at ground zero on Oct. 22, he’s still got a lengthy period of rehabilitation ahead of him. Both funds are through the Royal Bank. My understanding is you can go to any Royal Bank, or you can go through the school.
Q: The Warriors won two games after the accident and the regional championship. They had a shutout loss in the provincial quarter-finals. The scoreboard doesn’t really tell the tale, though. Does the loss of the game seem significant when you have lost so much more?
A: Well, the scoreboard certainly tells a tale. We liked it when it said that we won. But all of that said, the character that they displayed was so outstanding that they didn’t lose. As the game ended, I said before you shake hands I want you to go across the field to wave and clap to your parents and thank the crowd because we did receive tremendous support. That created a whole flood of tears. Unexpectedly, it hit me pretty hard. We did all we could, against an extremely strong opponent, with what was left in the tank.
Q: Now comes the off-season. Without football, are you worried about that void?
A: I’m very concerned about that, for everyone. It will be an off-season where we are doing more things and following up with get-togethers, touching base with each player to see how they are doing. And coaches, too. We have some catching up to do, on work, and on sleep, and on grieving.
Q: How are you handling this?
A: I have, quite honestly, been richly blessed through this whole experience. I had an opportunity to watch such a high level of courage and composure by a group of young men, and the four young women who are our managers. I had the chance to provide support to five families going through the most difficult time a family can go through, and watch them try to handle that with such grace and dignity.
Q: When you agreed to this interview, you said you wanted to focus on what can be learned from this. I’d like to hear your thoughts on that.
A: Around the subject of alcohol and driving, we have to stop kidding ourselves. We’re not doing a good enough job. Too much lip service and not enough change in behaviour. If we don’t change the attitude, people need to stop crying about people getting killed by drunk drivers. Learning is when behaviour changes, otherwise it’s just information. We shouldn’t have 18-year-olds drinking [the legal age in Alberta and Quebec]. Matt and Vince aren’t going to be 18. Not in this life. Never. And Tanner and Walter didn’t even get to be 16.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, September 16, 2011 at 9:00 AM - 9 Comments
The editors of this magazine raise the possibility that the Prime Minister might have a role to play in reforming hockey.
“Football is on trial,” Roosevelt told the coaches. “Because I believe in the game, I want to do all I can to save it.” While Roosevelt took no effort to dictate what changes ought to be made, with his encouragement the sport completely reinvented itself. The forward pass became legal. First downs required 10 yards, rather than five, which helped open up the game. Plays that put players’ heads and necks at risk were explicitly prohibited. A game characterized by massive pileups, broken necks and eye gouging went on to become the most popular spectator sport in the U.S. today.
Politicians obviously have no business micromanaging sport, but our Prime Minister could use his stature to encourage hockey to abandon its violent status quo in favour of something new and better, as Roosevelt did.
By the editors - Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 11:05 AM - 6 Comments
Heads of state have interfered in pro sports before
It may be the most thrilling of winter sports, but summer is proving to be hockey’s toughest season.
In June, Vancouver was terrorized by a massive riot following the seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals. In recent months three well-known NHL tough guys were found dead by their own hand: Rick Rypien and Wade Belak from apparent suicide, Derek Boogaard from accidental drug overdose.
And head trauma continues to cast a pall over the entire sport. While professional hockey has always involved substantial physical contact and ritualized fighting, new research suggests hockey tough guys such as Boogaard, Rypien and Belak may face a lifetime of degenerative brain disease and depression. Shots to the head are shortening the careers of many talented players as well. Gifted left winger Paul Kariya retired in June due to post-concussion syndrome. In August, the Boston Bruins’ star centre Marc Savard (who signed a $28-million, seven-year contract in 2009) announced he won’t play this coming season because of a concussion. He may never play again.
By Erica Alini - Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at 9:50 AM - 0 Comments
Cash-strapped NFL players appear to be attracting a swarm of vulture lenders
A month into the lockout that has frozen the NFL, cash-strapped football players appear to be attracting a swarm of vulture lenders. The online sports magazine ThePostGame.com reports that with no paycheques rolling in, players are now turning to short-term loans with “obscene terms” to pay bills and existing debts.
Interest rates on these loans range from 18 to 24 per cent, and rise as high as 36 per cent upon default, one source alleged. The lockout, which started on March 11, is the product of disputes between NFL owners and players over a range of issues, including how to divide over $9 billion in annual revenues. Predicting that the disagreements could lead to a months-long standoff, the NFL Players Association advised players to set aside three game cheques from the 2010 season as a lifeline. (The median salary for NFL football players is $770,000.)
That piece of financial good sense, though, was apparently lost on many. Ten per cent of players have already secured predatory loans, and close to half could be signing themselves into the hands of loan shark lenders before Labour Day, around the time the regular season normally begins, the anonymous source said, adding: “They’re going to lose their homes. Their credit is going to be shot.”
By Jason Kirby - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 3:50 PM - 2 Comments
Some wealthy Americans are starting to take interest in the Beautiful Game
Football, footy, soccer—whatever you call it, most Americans still don’t get it. But that hasn’t stopped a few Americans, very wealthy ones, from taking a serious interest in the sport overseas. On April 11, U.S. billionaire Stan Kroenke bought Arsenal, the English soccer team, for US$1.2 billion in cash. Kroenke, who made his fortune in real estate development and then became considerably richer when he married Ann Walton of the Wal-Mart Walton clan, already sat on the team’s board of directors. Now the famed club is part of his growing sports empire, which includes the Denver Nuggets of the NBA and the NHL Colorado Avalanche. The deal came just days after basketball star LeBron James took a minority stake in the soccer club Liverpool. Last year, Fenway Sports Group, a company controlled by Florida hedge-fund manager John Henry and Hollywood producer Tom Werner, paid US$488 million to buy the club.
By Scott Feschuk - Friday, February 4, 2011 at 6:18 AM - 3 Comments
Final numbers for 2010-11:
Scott Feschuk Playoffs 8-3 Overall 137-105-9
Scott Reid Playoffs 4-7 Overall 116-126-9
Thanks to all at Macleans.ca and Sportsnet.ca for reading us during our most popular season yet. Will the NFL be back in the fall? Will we? Will Alex Rodriguez ever live down being fed popcorn by his girlfriend on live television in front of 100 million people? Only time can answer these questions, except for the A-Rod one, because obviously the answer there is no.
Pittsburgh (plus 3) vs. Green Bay, Sunday, 6:29 p.m. ET
Reid: Top three undeniable facts about Super Bowl XLV:
1. Sports Reporters Are Pussies. So far the most reportable item from the 2011 Super Bowl appears to be that it’s very coldy woldy. We had to spend days listening to ESPN’s Mike and Mike wussy aloud about how cold it was broadcasting outside until they finally moved their show indoors. And it seems every other reporter in Dallas assumes what the football-loving public wants to learn first is how they’re all holding up in the frigid air of north Texas. Yo candy apples, it’s barely dropped below freezing. Grow a pair!
2. There are Not Enough Slutty Women in Texas. In what would constitute a crisis in any circumstance, an embarrassing shortage of prostitutes in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area during the Super Bowl may irreparably damage the city’s reputation among hard-up pigs. It is estimated that 10,000 hookers are needed to satisfy the drunken demands of Continue…
By Colby Cosh - Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
The U.S. government is under pressure to investigate college football’s bowl games
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff took one of his state’s most painful un-redressed grievances to the Department of Justice in Washington last month. Shurtleff wants the DOJ to launch an antitrust suit against the Bowl Championship Series—the partnership of 66 universities that controls the allocation of spaces in the NCAA Division I football’s season-ending bowl games.
His state’s University of Utah, a non-BCS school that will join the BCS by switching to a new conference next year, is seen as one of the main historic victims of the BCS’s cartel-like behaviour. Instead of holding a large, inclusive playoff tournament like those conducted for other NCAA-regulated sports—including the lower divisions of NCAA football itself—the BCS uses a combination of polls and computer ranking algorithms to choose two teams for a single early January game to decide a national champion.
By Nadja Drost - Friday, December 3, 2010 at 10:00 AM - 5 Comments
Can a soccer scandal bring down the president who rescued the miners?
The stunning rescue of 33 miners did wonders for Chilean President Sebastián Piñera. After the miners rose from the depths, Piñera’s popularity climbed by 10 points to 63 per cent, according to a poll conducted by Adimark, a government-commissioned polling firm. Now, his approval ratings may hinge on the future success of Chile’s national soccer team.
As he toured Europe shortly following the mine rescue in October, Piñera, who won the presidency last January, was treated as Latin America’s new star, still riding the crest of a wave of popularity. Until, that is, he found himself in the crosshairs of a controversy centred on perhaps the one thing Chileans will rally around more than 33 miners stuck underground: soccer. “Soccer is having an effect on politics, and the direct responsibility for this lies with the president,” said Mauricio Morales, a professor of political science at Diego Portales University in Santiago. “We have never seen this before in Chile. Never.”
By Julia Belluz - Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 9:20 AM - 0 Comments
New Meadowlands Stadium offers fans free smartphone applications so users can view updated statistics and video replays
Is there anything better than seeing a sporting event live and in person? The New Meadowlands Stadium, home to the New York Jets and Giants, thinks so. It will now offer fans free smartphone applications (which will only work inside the stadium) so users can view updated statistics and video replays, find out which concession stands have the shortest lines, and watch live feeds from other games when the one at hand isn’t exciting enough.
By Charlie Gillis - Monday, April 12, 2010 at 12:36 PM - 9 Comments
Distracted dads prove hands-off parenting works
One eye on your three-year-old and another on the football game isn’t exactly textbook parenting. But take heart, inattentive dads: new research suggests you may be giving your kid a leg up. A study led by researchers at the Université de Montreal found that fathers, more so than mothers, tend to give toddlers the leeway to take risks and explore, and that equips youngsters for the challenges of life that lie ahead. “The less protective the parent, the more exploratory the behaviour in the child,” says Daniel Paquette, a psychology professor at the university. “For a child to become self-confident, the parent mustn’t be too far or too close.”
The study is part of an emerging line of inquiry called “activation theory,” which stresses the importance of risk-taking and competition in early childhood development. It’s the flip side of 20th-century “attachment theory,” which focused exclusively on nurturing the belief that primary caregivers fulfill a child’s emotional needs and guarantee survival. To test their hypothesis, Paquette and his colleagues, whose study appears in the current issue of Early Child Development and Care, placed kids aged 12 to 18 months, each with a parent, in risky situations—near toys at the top of a stairway, say, or in a room where a strange adult enters. They then measured the responses of both parent and child, and found fathers were more likely to give the child space to take risks. More importantly, they identiﬁed a link between this arm’s-length style of parenting and the intrepidness of the kids.
That doesn’t mean men should take a nap when on daddy duty. No one’s interests are served when a child falls down the stairs. But it does suggest hidden virtue in hands-off child-rearing—and a little less guilt when the big game demands a fellow’s attention.
By Scott Feschuk - Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 9:40 AM - 5 Comments
SCOTT FESCHUK: Welcome to my interactive Super Bowl Over-Under Challenge. (And yes, there are prizes.)
For football fans, the two-week break before the Super Bowl is a grim, unholy fortnight—a soulless thing from the depths of hell, bereft of light and hope. Think of it as a 14-day Matthew McConaughey movie. Sure, the time off gives us a chance to reflect, to recuperate, possibly even to shower. But that’s small comfort to those of us left without an excuse to avoid antiquing on Sunday afternoon.
Happily, this year’s may be worth the ordeal. There’s real excitement in the air. We’re going to see a fierce battle—and not just one in which the elderly halftime act, the Who, fights players for possession of the sideline oxygen.
There’s only one way to make the NFL championship even more enjoyable: betting. I’m talking about rash, excessive wagering unsullied by reason or moderation. The Super Bowl isn’t just a football game—it’s also the Super Bowl of gambling, a chance to bet real money on every facet of the proceedings, up to and including the number of times Brett Favre will pop up to retire during the game.
By Michael Friscolanti and Charlie Gillis - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 6:33 PM - 13 Comments
Someone blew the Grey Cup for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. But was it really Jason Armstead?
When a sports team chokes, the choke in question doesn’t usually require much explanation. The Boston Red Sox lost that World Series game to the Mets because Billy Buckner let a slow groundball dribble through his legs. The Buffalo Bills blew their first of four Super Bowl chances because Scott Norwood was wide right. And the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s probably would have won five straight Stanley Cups had rookie defenceman Steve Smith not passed the puck into his own net.
The 97th Grey Cup featured its own memorable choke: the underdog Saskatchewan Roughriders lost to the Montreal Alouettes by one measly point because someone wearing a green jersey was on the field when he should have been on the sidelines. But unlike Buckner and Norwood and Smith—whose gaffes were instantly obvious—we still don’t know who actually screwed up. The coaches are not saying and, to their credit, the culprit’s teammates aren’t throwing him under the bus either.
Here’s what we do know. With five seconds left on the clock and the Als down by two, Damon Duval attempted a 43-yard field goal that didn’t even come close to the uprights. But to the horror of Rider Nation, penalty flags flew as soon as the ball was snapped. Saskatchewan had 13 men on the field—one too many—and Duval was granted a do-over from ten yard closer. He didn’t miss. Alouettes 28, Riders 27. Game over.
Fingers were quickly pointed at Jason Armstead, the Rider receiver who was standing in touchdown territory when Duval missed kick number one. “It looked like somebody ran on late into the end zone,” said TSN broadcaster Chris Cuthbert. It certainly did seem strange that the Riders—desperate to block the field goal attempt—would waste a player in the end zone when an extra body would have certainly helped on the line of scrimmage. Even if the Als missed the kick and the ball traveled through the end zone, the resulting single point would not have cost the Riders the Cup. (At least one fan is convinced that Armstead is to blame. Just hours after the final whistle, some semi-literate soul altered the receiver’s Wikipedia profile to say he “was responsible for a crucial penalty during the final play of the 2009 Grey Cup” and “ultimately put the Montreal Alouettes in field goal position”).
In the locker room, Armstead proclaimed his innocence. “What kind of question is that?” he told reporters. “Come on, ask a smart question. Don’t do that. Ask a smart question.”
What he should have said is: “Check out the replay.” Because the video footage of those final, critical moments raises an interesting question: If Armstead is the goat, why was he on the field not just for the first, penalized play, but for both of Montreal’s field goal attempts?
That’s right. Look closely at TSN’s pictures of Duval’s second kick, and you’ll see Armstead still in the Roughriders’ end zone (at 1:22 of the clip, directly behind the official on the right hand side). Surely if he was supposed to be on the line of scrimmage—or off the field entirely—he would have been gone from the end zone for the Mulligan.
Yes, the Toronto Star’s Damien Cox makes a good point about the redundancy of having a returner in the end zone if conceding a single point wouldn’t have cost Saskatchewan the game. But it’s possible the Rider coaches worried that something would go wrong with their attempt to block Duval’s kick. Montreal might somehow recover the ball in the air after it had been blocked, in which case having one last man to prevent an Alouette ball-carrier from entering the end zone might have come in handy.
And look at the CFL Rulebook’s section on scoring: if the ball goes into the end zone “as a direct result of a kick from scrimmage being blocked in the field of play or goal area,” it says, and the player in possession takes a knee, the result is not single point, but a safety touch, which is worth two points. Two points would have tied the game.
Would a tipped ball that wound up in the end zone qualify as a “direct result” of a block? Hard to know. The rule was likely written for scenarios where a team is punting from deep within its own territory yet gets stuffed by defenders.
In the end, the Saskatchewan coaches might simply have made a big mistake, putting a man in the end zone when they didn’t need to. But put him there they did. Twice. Which suggests their heads fit the goat horns about as well as Armstead’s—if not nearly as well as the mystery player who stayed on the field when he was supposed to come off.
By Michael Petrou - Friday, November 27, 2009 at 9:50 AM - 3 Comments
German prosecutors are investigating almost 200 high-level soccer games in a match-fixing inquiry that is shaking European football.
UPDATE: Colleague Charlie Gillis covers the story in detail in the print edition of this week’s mag.