Posts Tagged ‘sports’
New York, December 9 – Followers of New-York-area sports teams are expressing considerably less shock at the death of a man in a policeman’s chokehold than other populations, surveys indicate, because they are accustomed to the phenomenon of watching their chosen clubs choke.
A study of Knicks, Mets, Islanders, Rangers, Yankees, Jets, Nets, and Giants season ticket holders and of subscribers to the satellite or cable channels carrying those groups’ games shows that the demographic in question has developed a much higher tolerance for observing others choke than has the population at large. A control group expressed revulsion in approximately twice the intensity at seeing people choke than did these sports fans.
Choking has been a part of the New York sports experience at least since 1960, when the Yankees failed to put away the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series and ended up succumbing on perpetual underachiever Bill Mazeroski’s walk-off home run in game seven. Since then New York fans have lived through the futility and occasionally tantalizing periods of real potential embodied by their teams only to see them come crashing down after flirting with success.
Most prominent among the dubious group are the Knicks, who came oh-so-close to glory several times in the 1990’s only to choke famously against the Bulls, Rockets, and Pacers – with Reggie Miller of the latter club memorably gesturing toward the Knicks with his hands around his neck, thus capturing in an instant the essence of Knicks underachievement.
Choking has plagued New York on several other prominent occasions, including the Yankees’ 2004 inability to defeat the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series despite a 3-0 series lead. That letdown followed 2001 and 2003, when they lost the World Series in seven games. In more recent seasons they have failed to perform to expectations – with the highest payroll in all of professional sports – seldom advancing beyond the first round of postseason games if they have managed to reach the postseason at all. The lone bright spot of the 2009 championship has only served to highlight the sense of failure and choking under pressure every single other year.
The study authors intend to conduct similar research in other cities with perpetually disappointing performances by sports teams. Los Angeles features prominently as a candidate location, with the Dodgers consistently following a dominant season with a poor performance in the playoffs.
If LA becomes the venue, the researchers will be challenged to distinguish between adaptation to Los Angeles underachievement and residual tolerance for the choking that moved there from New York – first in the 1956 Bobby Thomson home run that gave the rival Giants the pennant, and more recently in the team’s Manager Don Mattingly, whose only playoff experience with the Yankees was in 1995 when his team dropped a five-game Division Series to the Mariners after leading two games to none.
East Rutherford, NJ – Adding a fashion faux pas to a season already shaping up as a disaster, every single member of the New York Jets roster chose an identical outfit in which to appear for their game today.
The team’s 0-6 start to the season results from what commentators are calling the perfect storm of rotten luck, bad decisions, lack of coordination among players, and simmering tensions among rival teammates. To make matters worse, say analysts, the team committed an aesthetic and cultural gaffe by appearing in public all wearing the same clothes, save for different numbers on their jerseys.
“Oh, my gosh, lame,” explained commentator John Madden. “I mean, they have stalls, like, right next to one another in the locker room – you;d think they’d pick up on the fact that someone else is wearing, like the exact same thing.”
Bob Costas of NBC Sports concurred. “This could have been avoided with a minimal amount of preparatory work on the part of the players, and, failing that, the coaching staff. This really gives new meaning to the term Offensive Coordinator. I can’t think of a more apt term right now.”
Numerous Jets squads have begin their seasons 0-6, with the franchise often serving as a metaphor for perpetual cellar-dwellers. The team last won a Super Bowl in 1969, leaving athletic achievement to the more talented, better-trained, and more prestigious clubs in the National Football League. The lack of expectation from fans that the team post a winning record, let alone advance into the playoffs, has freed them to pursue attainments in other realms, such as sniping at one another and trying to wear their helmets at the jauntiest angle possible.
Players expressed shock and disgrace at the mistake. “I thought I had the original idea to match my jersey and football pants to the green and white of the turf and yard markers,” said Tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson. “Imagine my chagrin upon discovering that all 52 of my teammates made the same fashion decision. I wish I could die.”
The incident recalls a similar episode in Borough Park, Brooklyn, last year, when fisticuffs broke out among adherents of Bobov and Ger Hasidic sects over which group had usurped the black frocks of the other.
From PreOccupied Territory:
Tel Aviv, June 29 – Troubled by unruly attendees in the audience, Heichal Hatarbut, the Tel Aviv home of the Israel Philharmonic, has decided to stop selling alcoholic beverages beyond the third movement of orchestral works of four movements or more, and after the second movement of three-movement pieces.
The decision comes after persistent difficulties with rowdy audience members who fight, heckle the performers, and present what Heichal Hatarbut managers call “a disruptive presence and a safety hazard for our players and guests.” The hall and orchestra boards agreed to implement the change following an incident last week when a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 in F Major was repeatedly interrupted by shouts of, “Your Scherzo is a joke!” and “My grandmother could…
Los Angeles, April 30 – The aftermath of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist comments now includes a demonstration by the players themselves, who have vowed, in response to the comments, to maintain their historically abysmal win-loss record.
Although recent years have seen the franchise enjoy some success, even winning its division and outplaying the rival Lakers, through most of its years the Clippers have embodied basketball futility. In reaction to the team owner’s remarks to his partner that he does not want to see her in the company of black men, the all-black team and coach have announced that they will show their displeasure by putting extra effort into continuing to stink.
“Times such as these call for taking a stand, and the players and I all agree that we need to do something,” said team coach Doc Rivers. “We will do what we know how to do best – establish ourselves perennially in the basement of the NBA.” Rivers himself is no stranger to consistent team underachievement, as he played with the New York Knicks for two years.
“That’s what we love about his team,” said area fan Masso Kiszt. “They always keep it real. No big displays of showmanship, no over-the-top demonstrations. just quietly going about the business of losing. It’s so rare in this town.”
NBA representatives had no comment on rumors that the Minnesota Timberwolves were looking to hire Sterling as head coach next year.
New York, January 27 – Sports Illustrated publisher Frank Wall told reporters today that TimeWarner would make this year’s swimsuit edition the last, as the company no longer sees the annual issue as a core part of its commercial appeal.
Wall assembled a press conference to announce the news, noting that the American sports fan has grown ever more sophisticated, and base appeals to sexual desires are no longer the sales draw that they once were. “With the maturity of the American male sports aficionado, the annual swimsuit issue just doesn’t suit our target market anymore,” he said. “Our strength has always been in trenchant analysis, not cheap pandering to the male libido.”
The decision brings to an end a fifty-year-old practice. For years, the swimsuit issue was the magazine’s best-seller, but according to Wall, TimeWarner’s board decided late last year that it was time to move beyond the adolescent appeal of lithe, bronzed supermodels showcasing designer bathing suits in provocative poses. “We have more respect for our audience than that now,” said Wall, “and of course we regret subjecting women to such treatment, thereby fostering their objectification and warping the way in which people view romantic relationships.”
Once release of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition ceases, there will be only two American magazine publishers that use sex appeal to engage the male reader. Maxim and Muscle&Fitness magazines will be the only remaining such publications available at newsstands. Penthouse, Playboy, and Hustler, all one-time mainstays of the pornography field, folded over the last few years as interest in their offerings faded with the rising maturity and morality of their audience. Other, lesser-known purveyors of smut have likewise gone under or moved their operations exclusively to the internet, where discreet access to the crude content is still available to the few with stunted sensibilities.
Moscow, January 19 – Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to mounting criticism of his country’s treatment of homosexuals, promising that the upcoming winter Olympics in Sochi will not be marred by official mistreatment of gays and lesbians. Putin affirmed his commitment to his hands-off policy, under which Moscow will not interfere with non-governmental efforts to make homosexuals’ lives miserable.
In June, Putin signed into law a provision making it illegal to engage in the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations,” prompting both an upsurge in anti-gay incidents and in protests against the measure. In the run-up to the Olympics, scheduled to run in Sochi, Russia, from February 7-23, tensions between Moscow and other countries have risen over questions of the host country’s treatment of homosexual athletes from visiting delegations, and over its treatment of its own gay and lesbian population. Putin sought to allay the fears of the visitors, assuring them that no government officials would be involved in any persecution of homosexuals during the Olympics.
“The Russian Republic respects the integrity of the Olympic Games as a forum for promoting tolerance among nations,” the President said in a statement issued by the Kremlin. “It would be entirely inappropriate for us to assert our methods of suppressing the promotion of non-traditional lifestyles when each delegation should be free to to do so in its own way.” The statement did note that as the Olympics also function as a way to showcase local culture on the world stage, Moscow would allocate separate time and space to allow the local population to determine on its own how gays are mistreated.
The Ministry of the Interior has already ruled out the use of internment or extermination camps, calling them too costly in terms of money and manpower. Protests against the official position on homosexual activity have marred the preparations for the games, challenging the Ministry’s resources. The Kremlin’s pronouncement putting the reins of homosexual persecution in the hands of local activists will enable the Ministry to free up those resources for security and other important efforts.
Colorado Springs, Colorado (AP) – Amid preparations for the upcoming Winter Olympics, the United States Figure Skating Association is weighing an amendment to its membership eligibility guidelines that would remove the requirement for male figure skaters to be homosexual.
The move comes against the backdrop of tensions surrounding the treatment of gays in Russia, where the Olympiad is to be held. USFSA President Patricia St. Peter said in an interview that the change to the eligibility requirements would provide US skaters with the plausible deniability of belonging to such a persecuted group, an association likely to exacerbate tensions with the local populace and government. Homosexuality is considered illegal in Russia.
She acknowledged, however, that the move is largely symbolic, as she is aware of few, if any, non-homosexual men capable of competing in figure skating at an Olympic level.
The USFSA measure, if approved, would put the Association in the company of several other trade groups that, in the interest of diversity, have made efforts to attract heterosexual men into their ranks. Most recently, the Hairstylists’ Organization – Men’s Order (HOMO), an umbrella group of salon owners and employees, issued a statement in July welcoming its first non-closeted heterosexual member. Last May, the Fashion Artists’ Group (FAG) put out a call for applications from non-gay men. Both HOMO and FAG spokespersons declined to provide the specific numbers of successful applicants.
No such requirement exists for the male half of pair ice skating; in fact the annals of figure skating are full of torrid love affairs between the halves of such performing couples. Nor are ice dancing couples required to maintain one orientation or another, or even to avoid complicated associations with primal cultural taboos – in fact a prominent ice dancing team in the early 1990’s included a French brother and sister, and the nature of the ice dancing routines necessitates gazing longingly into each other’s eyes; the sight of a brother and sister doing so enabled audiences to experience an awkwardness far beyond anything related to sexual orientation.
The US Men’s Weightlifting Team gave a supportive grunt.