Sports

Vuvuzelas Banned From "The Game" By Harvard

By JJ Sutherland   |   Friday, November 19, 2010
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Introduction to the Inner Game With Tim Gallwey

Friday, November 12, 2010
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Center Stage: Jared Bowan talks to Ken Burns

Tuesday, September 28, 2010
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Believe Again! Ken Burns revisits Baseball

Monday, September 20, 2010
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My Pick

By Steven D. Stark   |   Monday, August 23, 2010
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"We all know the American sports cliché: On any given day, any team can beat another one. But it’s a cliché that has never applied to soccer’s World Cup. Every four years, the same four teams tend to dominate this 32-team tournament – along with the home team. Whether it’s the fact that pedigree really does count more with this sporting event than any other or that certain nations can weather spending a month in a strange environment far better than others, only four teams have consistently gone home with the trophy in modern times – Brazil, Germany, Italy, and Argentina. If you want to know who’s going to win, history tells us they are by far the likeliest choices, along of course with the home team – except this time, the problem is the home team, South Africa, isn’t good enough to win.

Some stats: First, no team from North America or Africa has ever even made the tournament semifinals; maybe an African team can do it on home soil this year since that is a considerable advantage but ultimately winning the Cup would be a huge surprise. Second, since 1966 – a period of 11 Cups – even the 2nd place finisher has been a team that has already won a World Cup, with the exception of Holland twice in the 70’s when the Dutch had a fantastic team. Third, when the Cup is held in Europe, a European team has won every time but one. But when it’s held outside Europe like this year, a European team has never won. Finally the only team ever to win a Cup outside its own hemisphere is Brazil, which has done it twice.

Now maybe this year will be different: Spain is a powerhouse and the choice of many pundits. England has convinced itself that football is coming home as they say but of course the English think that every four years. And there are those who say this tourney will be different: It’s being held in the southern hemisphere for the first time since 1978 meaning cooler winter temperatures and for the first time at altitude since 1986 in Mexico.

But old truths die hard and as the poet once said those who don’t know their history are condemned to repeat it. If form holds look for two of the big 4 of Brazil, Germany, Italy, and Argentina to be in the title game. And look for Brazil to likely win it all again."

Watch the Sidelines

By Steven D. Stark   |   Monday, August 23, 2010
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"If you’ve read anything about the upcoming World Cup, you probably already know which players to watch – striker Lionel Messi of Argentina, Portugal’s show-off Cristiano Ronaldo, and, frankly, anyone from Brazil. But I have a different suggestion if you want to begin to appreciate what makes international soccer different from American sports. Watch the coaches.

In this country, almost all coaches are cut from the same rather clichéd cloth, as they dress in trackies with a whistle around their necks and recite the same boring platitudes about leaving nothing on the field, giving their all, et cetera et cetera. International soccer coaches tend to be far different and far more controversial. For starters, they often wear finely tailored suits; I don’t know where England’s Italian manager Fabio Cappello gets his glasses but they’re hip and undoubtedly expensive. These coaches are often intellectuals of a sort too, tactical strategists extraordinaire, and they’re quirky to a fault.

At this Cup, we’ve got France’s Raymond Domenech, aka “Le Crackpot,” who is notorious for making his odd squad selections by consulting astrological charts and once refused to play a player who was a Leo because – and I quote – “at some stage he’ll want to show off and cost us.” When his team did poorly at Euro 2008, he proposed to his girlfriend at the post-match press conference.

Then there’s Chile’s Marcelo Bielsa, from Argentina, who’s been known to visit zoos for coaching ideas and trains the players at different positions on the team in different locations so they can’t see each other. His media policy is to answer every question from every journalist, which is why his press conferences can go on, and on and on.

Argentina’s Diego Maradona is a national icon. The former superstar and World Cup hero is a polarizing figure as in the years since his retirement his weight ballooned, he became drug addicted and almost died and was given this coaching job with virtually no experience. As one English journalist put it, Argentina went for a crackerjack, a maverick, a phenomenon who refers to himself in the third person and once claimed to have been a victim of a total lack of respect from the Pope. He’s promised to run naked thru the streets of Buenos Aires should his team win and he’s joined by former coach Carlos Bilardo, who steered to Argentina to its last World Cup victory in 1986 by ordering the squad not to each chicken for good luck.

And these are the only tips of the proverbial iceberg. At a World Cup, aficionados know that you don’t only watch the field; you watch the sideline too."

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