Sunday, October 9, 2011

Top of the News 10/10/11

Goooood morning, world!

Hope you're all feeling as good as I am, guys and gals. Today, Google's top news for me is all about Liam Fox's allegations - apparently they're "Very serious indeed", and David Cameron wants answers on them. However, I have absolutely no idea who Liam Fox is, and the odds are that unless you're very familiar with the British government's cabinet members, you don't either.

I am vaguely aware of a Liam Neeson.
He voiced Fujimoto in that children's classic, Ponyo, after all.

Now, since nearly three times as many of our readers come from the U.S. alone as do from the U.K. - and since I want to actually know what I'm talking about before the day I write about it just this once - I aren't going to bore you with Mr. Fox. Huh. That's kinda like Michael J. Fox. Is this guy some sort of gestalt of Hollywood actors, or what? I wouldn't be surprised if his full name was Liam Pitt Cruise DiCaprio Fox. But enough about that guy - he's a politician. A boring old politician. Google's top news in the sports section today? Sebastian Vettel is now World F1 Champion. Here is a guy that I've actually heard of! And he's a sportsman whose name isn't a rip-off of other, more famous, people.


Well... Other than my man, J. Sebastian Bach.

Now I know what you're thinking... Actually I don't. But I have never written a sports article before, so I'm not entirely sure how to proceed. High five? Are high fives still cool in sporting events? Jeez. Yay sports!

What I do know is that Michael Schumacher used to be awesome, and now he's getting too old (42) for the business. Some are saying that Vettel (24, and equally Germanic) could be the usurper of the crown of awesomeness that Michael once wore. This seems unduly surprising to a lot of people [read as: old people], but even from my passing awareness of F1 these past two years, it was bloody obvious to me. I mean, this guy is crazy quick compared to everyone else around him...

Which would be why he is now the youngest ever double F1 World Champion.

Christ... In six years' time, I doubt I'll be the youngest anything - other than, perhaps, person to ever shoot James Cameron if he goes through with Avatar 2. I'll even push the envelope a little on this one: the odds are stacked that none of you will be the youngest to do anything, ever. Sorry if it's cynical, but... Well, it's true. Worse still, none of us will ever have the awesome beard stubble that this guys has:


Come on! Look at that. Rawr.

Now I really do know what you're thinking: 'But Mr. Rice! You always go off topic about 2/3 of the way into your articles! Why aren't you doing that this time?'. I shall - just for you, my loving audience.

So how about them Nix?

Just kidding. But this is a great opportunity to discuss opinions on sporting culture in general! And by discuss, I mean me talking and you listening. You know, since that's how this blog thing works (but do feel free to comment, if you have anything to say!). Now then... There are two things that often come up when discussing sports - particularly [association] football over here in Europe - and they match up perfectly to the two types of people in this world: the people who don't give a hoot about sports, complaining that sportsmen are grossly overpaid (and usually that soldiers are grossly underpaid), and the seething masses of athletic supporters (Caowin, no laughing) who will hate you for life if you support the wrong team.

First thing's first: are athletes overpaid, and soldiers underpaid? Well, I'm certainly not going to disagree, since: 1. A lot of my relatives have been (and still are) enlisted in some country or anothers' armed forces, and; 2. Soldiers are pretty buff, and could probably kick my nerdy-writer-arse seven different ways to next week. However, to completely agree is to miss a couple of very important points that are of a mostly economic nature. Firstly, there's the fact that sports (that thing that athletes do) is a multi-multi-billion dollar-a-year industry, thanks to advertising and viewing figures. War (the number one activity of soldiers), on the other hand, is a negative multi-multi-billion dollar-a-year industry, thanks to... Well, the fact that all it does is cost money, and not make any back.

Then of course, there is the means of financing. The armed forces of any given country are supported by paying taxes, while Wayne Rooney is supported by people watching him kick a ball for 90 minutes. Which of those is the more pleasant/easier task? Just ask the Tea Party if you're at all stuck. There are, therefore, limitations on what can be paid to whom. If you want to increase soldiers' pay, then go ahead and pay more taxes... And then hope that the government puts the money where you want it. If you want to decrease athletes' pay, then don't watch sports. The odds are that if you make this sort of complaint regularly, you already don't watch sports though. Congratulations! You're doing all that can be done in our free market economy. Shush now.

Morally speaking, you're right: sportsmen tend to be dumb and overpaid, while soldiers tend to at least be underpaid. Financially speaking, this is the only way that the world can be... Unless of course the armed forces got a sponsorship deal... Nah. That would be silly...


Coca Cola and bombers? Sign me up.

That second subject of sporting culture that I mentioned is, of course, its competitive nature. In spite of the chauvinist opinion that the WNBA is a pushover league, even women's sports are competitive as anything. Come on guys - have you never pissed off a woman? Would you make that mistake again? If so, did you ever find your penis after she chucked it in that empty lot? Women can be mean. My point though, is not that women are just as competitive as men, but that sports is competitive in general.

Well, duh.

Seriously. Yeah, winning isn't everything, and maybe it's not the best thing - Sebastian Vettel only came 3rd in the race that earned him his title this year - but hot damn if it isn't important here. Why? Oh, no reason... Just that it's entirely based on war, and always will be. We used to use these kind of games to train our soldiers (see above for more comparisons between soldiers and sportsmen!), and they became so exciting for spectators that we decided to use it for entertainment. And what do people do in war? Hope that everyone gets along? Support both sides equally? Wish the other side a good game?


Yes?

For those of you out there who are saying "Okay, I get you... But sports is nowhere near as important as war, is it?": yes it is, in its own way. Pride connected with national/regional pride is very important to each and every one of us psychologically - whether it be with an army or a sports team. Yes, it's responsible for horrible things, but we use it for other things too: a comfort blanket when all else is going wrong ("At least I'm not Canadian"), a go to joke when we want a laugh ("At least I'm not Canadian, eh"), or even an example of post-modern ironic humour ("At least I'm totally not Canadian, eh"). For those self-same reasons, we need a sports team to stick by. We need it for our comfort and our humour! And I'll be damned if that's not important enough to justify a little competitiveness. 

So remember kids, the Nix suck. No, the Yankees suck. 

Et al. Ad infinitum.

Leaving you, as never before, sportingly fulfilled, 

Y. S. Rice

-&-


Other links courtesy of the BBC, Scotland Herald, Wikipedia, and ESPN.

All pictures linked, except the one of Vettel since that's in the above BBC link anyway.


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