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Tag: Sports

Picture(s) of The Day: The Commonwealth Games

After months of speculations and controversies, Delhi Commonwealth Games concluded on Oct 14th on a relatively successful note. India was also able to win record number of medals, 101 total medals,  and stood in second position in medal tally after Australia. I am glad that the event went on successful but now it’s time for introspection and a thorough investigation to find the culprits who misused the public money in the name of the games and almost humiliated the whole nation in front of the world. There is no doubt that corruption was rampant; successful closing and opening ceremonies shouldn’t cover up those glitches. Indian media has a history of short term memory but I hope they pursue the issue this time.

Picture credit: various sources

Leave a Comment October 15, 2010

FIFA 2010: The Final Chapter

Viva Espana…. 1-0 ….. Congrats Spain!!

 After a one month long historic event, the finals are here. The final chapter of 2010 edition of worldcup will go down in the history books as a new champion will emerge and will become only the eighth country in the World Cup’s history to become the winner of the coveted cup. While Netherlands has been in the finals two times earlier (1974, 1978) but the victory has eluded them on both the occasions. For Spain, this is their first time in the finals and are hot favorite to win the cup, even Paul-the psychic Octopus predicts them to win. Whoever wins, it’s going to be a spectacular game of football. Netherlands has been unbeaten this world cup and if they win the cup, they will emulate Brazil’s record  of winning all the games in the Worldcup. If Spain wins, they will repeat German history in 70’s to win both the Euro and World cup in succession. And in the end, whoever wins, South Africa has already won. They hosted the event with great success amidst all kinds of criticism, skepticism and whining complains (vuvuzelas, jubulani balls, heights of stadiums and so on). Skeptics went silent but not the vuvuzelas. Thanks South Africa for hosting successful Worldcup and showing us the colorful world of Africa and being such a wonderful host. People will take away more than memories and vuvuzelas from Africa, people will carry forward the idea of Ubuntu as well, that’s the hope. Finally, the beautiful game of football is the winner. Where politicians have failed in bringing together the fragmented world to agree on one thing, sports has the strength to do so and Football Worldcup has done that again and again. One Game, One Cup, One Month, One World…. Let the game begin, let the flags wave and let’s rejoice the beautiful game that is Football!

2 Comments July 11, 2010

Ubuntu: I Am Because You Are

Let’s start our day with a beautiful thought, a beautiful philosophy which is desperately needed in today’s world which thrives on the maxim of Me, Myself and Me.

While watching one of the FIFA Worldcup games, I came across one of the commercial which was not selling anything, just giving a message- Tolerance, Respect, Friendship, Ubuntu–Say no to Racism. All the football players coming together and spreading the message. And as a curious person, I wanted to know what Ubuntu means. My first thought was-is it about the Linux based operating system Ubuntu? I still don’t know whether the commercial is run by FIFA or someone else, but I know the meaning of the word Ubuntu now.

Ubuntu is a philosophy or say it a way of life which believes in people’s allegiance to each other and world as a whole. It’s a classic African concept and the word itself comes from Bantu language. Here is what Ubuntu means:

Archbishop Desmond Tutu offered a definition in a 1999 book

A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu further explained Ubuntu in 2008:

One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity.We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.

Nelson Mandela explained Ubuntu as follows:

A traveler through a country would stop at a village and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu but it will have various aspects. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve?

A traveler through a country would stop at a village and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu but it will have various aspects. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve? [Wiki]

It’s a beatiful philososphy and I hope the message spreads all across the world that we exist just because of the world, the people around us. We have to accept others even if they have different ideologies, color, race, religion, caste, language, nationalities etc. Others are part of us, part of our happiness, reason for ur existence. I am because you are! Africa has lot to offer to the world and Ubuntu is one of the philososphies we need to embrace and carry forward. Whoever wins the worldcup Spain or Netherlands, let’s hope the true winner from this worldcup be Ubuntu.

PS: Recently while going to airport in NewYork, I boarded a bus, unaware of the fact that the buses in NewYork don’t take paper money for fare, atleast that bus did not accept paper money. I got in the bus with not enough coins while I kept searching my pockets. One stranger offered to pay for me, I offered him $5 bill which I had but he refused to take and just said have a nice flight and left. That’s Ubuntu!

2 Comments July 9, 2010

FIFA 2010: Paul The Prophet Octopus

Final Update: Paul maintained his 100% success rate predicting winners  this worldcup.  It predicted successfully all the Germany games and also the Spain-Netherlands final game. Paul’s final record stands at 8-0 this worldcup while 12-2 overall. Impressive!! He even got a wiki page now, go checkout if interested.

Latest Update : Paul has picked Spain to win the finals and Germany to win the third spot [CNN].  Also he is safe and sound and not only him but also some of his buddies are safe, atleast for few days. Famous Spanish chef José Andrés will not be serving any octopus dishes in his menu in all his restaurants until further notice [Washington Post].

Updates after Germany-Spain game:Paul, The Octopus was right, yet again!! Germany lost the game and Spain is in the Worldcup finals to play Netherlands on sunday. I was rooting for Germany, but the better team won today. Also, it will be a great final as neither of the teams have won the world cup before. So, Go Spain, Go Netherlands!! Paul’s record now stands at 6-0 for this world-cup while 10-2 overall.


With the Germany-Spain Semifinal game minutes away, let me right this quick post about Paul, The Octopus. Some of you might have already heard about Paul, if not then you heard it here! Paul is a German Octopus (born in Britain) and this FIFA WorldCup, he has been predicting the winner of the games in which Germany plays and until now he has been 5-0 predicting the correct winner. For the semi-final game today, much to the dismay of German fans he has picked Spain as the winner, so lets see how the prediction of Paul goes this time. I bet Paul’s prophecy is going to be wrong this time. Last time it predicted German loss in this world cup, Germany did lose to Serbia. But it’s not like Paul has never been wrong in it’s business of predictions, his overall record is 9-2 and last time he predicted a wrong winner was prior to the worldcup and in that match Germany was playing Spain (coincidence), European championships 2008. Paul predicted German win but Spain won. Well, To err is human, I meant animal.

How does Paul predict the winner- He is shown two boxes containing delicious snacks and the boxes have the country flags labeled on it as shown in the picture above and video here. For today’s game, he hovered around the box with the German flag for a while but ultimately ended up picking the Spain box. When Paul predicted German win over favored Argentina, the fans from Argentina vowed to eat him.. lets see what happens to Paul by the end of this WorldCup. Go Germany!! You might also like to read 10 things you dont know about Paul, the psychic octopus.

Picture credit: Huffington Post

1 Comment July 7, 2010

Weekend Video: FIFA 2010 Commercials

After a week long hiatus, I am back. Lots  of new stories to write about. Let’s get started with this weekend’s video edition which is a collection of five cool FIFA 2010 commercials. Everyone loves good creative commercials which not only does the job of branding but also entertains every time it runs on TV. With Football Worldcup in it’s final stages, let’s take a look at few of the commercials which celebrate the spirit of the World Cup and sports in general.

The first one is Coca-Cola “Quest”. Initially set on a field of dust in Africa, far from the shiny professional stadiums, “Quest” follows a young football enthusiast looking for celebration. He sets off on a magical journey, in search of the sport’s most festive experiences. Along the way, he encounters various football teams, each with their own personal style of merriment. He then realizes the celebration is within himself and he can bring it to any environment.

Nike: Write the Future– How can Nike be left behind in coming up something spectacular. They always do, and this time they have done it again. This 3 minute video captures the sentiments, emotions and expectations of the nations , team and players. What will happen if Wayne Rooney makes a goal and what if he doesn’t? He sees the future for both the instances in this commercial. Even Homer Simpson makes an appearance. Watch it.

The next one is from Pepsi: Refresh Everything. Pepsi and Coca-Cola competition has always given us some of the best commercials. While Coca-Cola is the official sponsor, Pepsi has used social networking and viral video approach and it is making more buzz than Coke commercials. The commercial shows many football stars playing the game with local villagers in a make-shift field. Very funful commercial.

Coca-Cola: History of CelebrationIt tells the story of how Roger Milla inspired footballers to celebrate goals in an African-inspired manner. During 1990 FIFA World Cup , Roger Milla, became the first African player to score a FIFA World-Cup goal. Milla danced his now legendary “Makossa’ or “corner dance” in front of a Coca Cola perimeter board, becoming an icon for players and fans the world over. Awesome montage of celebrations!

ESPN: United

Which one did you like?

Leave a Comment July 4, 2010

70-68: Isner Wins the Longest Running Tennis Match

4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7), 6-7 (3), 59-59  70-68  Isner Beats Mahut. (Updated)

That’s the score of just concluded  Tennis match in Wimbledon between 19th ranked Isner and 148th ranked Mahut . One fine Tuesday afternoon, June 22nd, Isner and Mahut started playing their first round Wimbledon match. Nobody knew that the match was going to break all sorts of records in Grand Slam tennis history. When the match started, BP was still able to collect some of the gushing oil, Gen S McChrystal was still incharge of Afghansitan operations and federal six month ban on offshore drilling was still on. Since then, BP lost the cap which was containing the flow and oil is gushing at a rate it never did before, McChrystal lost his job after he gave an interview to Rollingstone full of unwanted remarks about president and his office, and a District Judge lifted the federal ban on offshore drilling (interestingly the judge had invested heavily in oil companies including the TransOcean rig). And not to forget, USA advanced to next round of FIFA world cup after defeating Algeria in last minutes of the game.

So lots have changed, but the game between Isner and Mahut seems to be never-ending. The game started on June 22nd and they played first 4 sets and then they were forced to postpone the game to next day due to lack of light. The score read 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3). They started again on Wednesday afternoon , roughly about 2 PM. They played back and forth in the fifth set and the IBM scoreboard read like 10-10, 20-20, 30-30, 40-40 until it reached 47-47, when it froze. When crowd roared “Lets go Scorebord” it came back to life but not for long; ultimately the scoreboard was dead and gave up a few games later. But not the players, they played continuously without any calls for trainers or bathroom breaks- straight for seven hours. After seven hours of marathon set, the players took their first bathroom break when score read 58-58, much to the relief of match officials who needed break. The game has been postponed for Thursday due to bad light as of now and the score in the final set is 59-59 and no one is willing to give up!

The game has already broken many records. Duration of previous longest Tennis match was 6 hours 33 minutes between Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement in the 2004 French Open. In this match, fifth set itself has been played for more than seven hours, while total duration of the game has been 10 hours and it is not finished yet! Another record broken is the number of aces in one single match. In this game a total of 193 aces (Isner- 98, Mahut-95) have been hit by both breaking previous record of 96 aces set last year. Infact, each of them individually has passed that record. Other records broken are maximum number of games- 193 and maximum number of points- 881 in a single match. And ofcourse the IBM scoreboard. Kudos to the endurance of both the players! We will come to know who won tomorrow, or will we?

Updates: Yes the marathon game has ended and John Isner finally won the game with a score of 70-68 in the final set. The record time for the entire match now stands at 11 hours and 5 minutes. The last set itself  ran for 8 hours and 11 minutes. Total number of aces -215 ( Isner-112, Mahut-103). Total points won- 980. For more stats visit Official Wimbledon site. 

Some comments from other Tennis players about the game:

Roger Federer: “In a way, I wish I was them; in some ways I wish I wasn’t them. This is a very special match. I hope somehow this is going to end.”

“It’s a marathon,” said Venus Williams, then corrected herself: “It’s longer than a marathon.”

“It makes me proud to be a tennis player,” said John McEnroe, working the BBC broadcast, after the 111th game. “It looks like Isner is about to fall over.”

Mahut “We are just fighting like we never did before, he’s a champ. The crowd is amazing and fantastic, they all want to see the end, but they’ll have to come back tomorrow. Mentally we played too long, but you just want the game you’re playing.”

Isner “Nothing like this will ever happen again, ever, we’re both serving fantastic but we both couldn’t agree to keep playing so it got cancelled.”

Picture credit: Guardian UK

Leave a Comment June 23, 2010

Vuvuzelas Are Very ‘Lekker’, Are They?

If you did not get the title of this post that means you are not following FIFA 2010 world cup. Right from the moment the World Cup started on June 11th, vuvuzelas have been buzzing in the stadiums and TVs and have been driving both the players and TV audiences crazy. Vuvuzelas are 2-3 foot long colorful horns which South African soccer fans have been blowing continuously during the games. Vuvuzela creates a buzzing noise at close to 127 decibels like a swarm of bees generally at frequencies of 465 and 235 Hz, which can be deafening. Ask any player, TV broadcaster and Tv audiences and they will tell how deafening it is. Players have been complaining that they are not able to communicate during the game due to vuvuzela buzz, also their sleep is hindered as people start blowing it as early as 6 AM. But FIFA officials have ignored any requests for banning the use of these instruments as it represents culture and tradition of South Africa.

“To answer all your messages re the vuvuzelas, I have always said that Africa has a different rhythm, a different sound… I don’t see banning the music traditions of fans in their own country. Would you want to see a ban on the fan traditions in your country?” According to FIFA president Sepp Blatter. [NPR ]

So while Vuvuzelas might be deafening you or distracting you, it’s going to stay, atleast in this world cup. It’s South Africa’s tradition and it has to be respected. People who are watching on TV can mute it , get used to the buzz or broadcasters can work on filtering that frequency and provide vuvuzela free telecast which already some broadcasters have started doing. For people enjoying the games in stadiums, I guess, it’s anyways loud whether with or without horns, so it  should be ok.. else use an ear plug! I know it’s annoying, but imposing how we want to watch the games on host country doesn’t sound fair.

You can also try an antidote if you want to cancel the noise, just for few bucks. This antidote or anti-vuvuzela filter is a 45 minute audio clip which if played alongside your TV set is supposed to cancel out the vuvuzela sound. Clemence Schlieweis, a sound mixing engineer from Munich Germany, recorded sample of vuvuzela sound from some earlier games and created new sound clip by reversing the vuvuzela recording, keeping same amplitude but reversing the crest and troughs. Thereby the cancelling effect. How effective it will be, it’s doubtful. Trevor Cox, Professor of Acoustics at the University of Salford, said: “I can’t see how it could work. The vuvuzela chorus may come across as a single sound on television, but it is actually hundreds of instruments being blown at different times. “Active noise control depends on lining up the two sound waves exactly, and that seems physically impossible in this case.” [Telegraph ]

Meanwhile, many of the soccer fans visiting south Africa as well as players have already started buying vuvuzelas as souvenirs to bring back homes. They are cheap too, so they can buy many. That means, many of these vuvuzelas will be back in other stadiums around the world in other sporting events. Well, as a pre-emptive measure many sporing clubs  have already started banning the horn. All England club banned any possible use of vuvuzelas in this years Wimbledon as well as Dortmund Borussia club banned such use in next season of their games. [NPR ] Watch the video to hear how it sounds and how it can be played.

By the way the word Lekker is South African slang for cool. So do you think Vuvuzelas are very Lekker?

Update: CDC NIOSH blog post on Vuvuzela sound measurement and noise exposure effects.

Photo Credit: Flickr user 50989081@N07

Leave a Comment June 17, 2010

FIFA 2010: Curious Case of Perfect Ball, Shootouts and Heights

One month long sports bonanza has begun and it’s already in it’s third day. 32 countries are participating in 2010 version of FIFA World cup. Yesterday US played England and tied the game 1-1 after a blunder by English goalkeeper. But nothing to take away from US team- they did a good job of defending their goal, esp the goalkeeper,  and a draw against much more talented and better ranked team ( England rank-8, USA rank-14) has to be cherished. A win would have been much better though.

Let’s talk about some science related topics concerning FIFA 2010.

The Case of Perfect Ball: In this world cup a new football has been introduced named Jubulani which means “Celebrate” in Zulu.  The ball which has been described as the perfect ball has been designed by Sports Technology Research Group at Loughborough University. There are no stitches in this ball and all the patches are either glued or hot sealed. The number of patches are also reduced from 32 to 8. Sixteen air-grooves are also added to provide more stability to other-wise perfectly smooth ball. Team leader of the group Dr Andy Harland says ” “Powerful robots, which could out-kick even Wayne Rooney, were used to measure the variations that different types of balls created. With the stitched ball there were inconsistencies because elements were made by hand. We have created a ball that is almost perfectly round, and more accurate than ever before.” [Telegraph]. But not all the players are happy with the new seamless ball claiming that the ball turns the wrong-way in mid air, the claim which both Adidas, the manufacturer, and research team denies. The game is on and by the end of the event we will be able to know how perfect the ball was.  

Update: The controversy over the ball continues as Algerian keeper misjudged the movement of the ball, in a Group C game today, which could have been an easy save resulting in Algeria losing to Slovenia. The blame has been on the bouncy new ball. [Yahoo]

The Case of Perfect Shootout: What’s the best way of handling the pressure of penalty shootouts- to concentrate on goalkeeper or totally ignore him? The question is important as many games going to the wire will be decided by shootout, maybe even the finals. According to new study by Greg Wood at Exter University, he concludes that ignoring the goalie is the way to go in order to effectively kick the ball inside the goal.

“We focus on things in our environment that are threatening. In a penalty kick, that threat is a goalkeeper,” Wood said. `If he (the goalkeeper) can make himself more threatening, he can distract the kicker even more. By doing (certain) behaviors, he can make it so the kicker will kick (the ball) near the goalie.” …… “Don’t pay attention to the goalkeeper,” said Wood, whose study is due to be published in the Journal of Sports Sciences. “The control is with the kicker, and he must realize that, get confidence from it, and then align his eyes and let the eyes provide the brain with the necessary information for accurate shooting.”[ AP]

Soccer fans must be aware of spaghetti legs routine: Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar did some random movements of his legs during the penalty shootout in the finals of European cup in 1984 which distracted the goal-taker and finally Liverpool won. Some thought the wobbly leg dance was showing disrespect to opposing team or to the game of football itself, but infact Grobbelaar was using psychological technique of controlling the environment and distracted the kicker to perform below par. Watch the video of Grobbdelaar doing the spaghetti routine.

The Case of Heights: In 2007 FIFA ruled that no international games will be played in any stadium above the height of 2,500 m in the interest of player’s health. The ruling was a result of a game which a Brazilian team played in Andes at height of 4,000 m leading to many players being provided oxygen bottles to help them breathing. But later on the ruling was suspended pending further studies. The issue of altitudes is again up during FIFA 2010 as some of the games are going to be played at height of about 1 mile. Issue of player’s health and fairness has come up again. Main stadium in Johannesburg is at heights of 1.7 km while six others at elevated heights too. Performance is affected at higher altitudes but 5 day acclimatization can solve the problem.  But what if after you have adjusted to higher altitudes and have to come and play at sea level- will the performance be affected- researchers say yes. This can have impact during final stages of the games as both the semi-finals are going to be played at sea-level stadium. The matches will be between a team which has played their games at altitudes vs a team which has played at sea level. So maybe this can skew some of the results in semifinal games.

Anyways, I am going to enjoy the games, just like the kid in picture below, and may the best team win. By the way which team do you think has the best chance of winning the world cup this year– Brazil, Germany, Spain, Argentina , Italy or maybe some wildcard say USA, England or South Korea?

Pictures Courtesy:

Leave a Comment June 14, 2010

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