Tag: Football

Nearing the End of the World Cup Linkage

This might be might last football related post, what with the World Cup coming to a close and host country Brazil departing ignominiously from the competition by a margin of 7 to 1 in the semifinal against Germany. I’ve got a few football/Brazil related links for this week. I’m sitting on a goodly number of climate change and conservation related themes that I’ll come back to in coming weeks.

I’m also aiming to write about restive criticism of President Obama’s foreign policy, both by the usual suspects as well as some more unlikely folks like Peter Beinart. I’ll leave that to a later post. In the meantime, what does Brazil’s loss mean for Dilma Rousseff’s re-election prospects? Why is that almost all the Brazil fans at the games appear to be white? Brazil’s got a ton of water but Sao Paulo doesn’t, what gives? At the end of the day, this is just a game, and with the deterioration of the situation in Israel, among other calamities, there are certainly some bigger issues looming. Continue reading


Belabored Belated Thursday Football Linkage

I’m back from Brazil and resurfacing with many story ideas from my recent adventures. In the meantime, if you are like me, you have soccer on the brain and are getting your head around yesterday’s winning loss to Germany by the U.S. team.

I’ll make a tangential attempt to make a linkage to international politics, which is rather easy when you see the scope of money involved in building the stadiums in Brazil, the threats of player work stoppages, particularly by African teams, for failure to pay appearance fees, and the outlandish price of Neymar’s new shoes for Nike. Here is what I’ve been reading that connects soccer to international politics:

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Failing at Football Diplomacy

clean fun soccerThere has been a bit of recent news lately suggesting international football* considerations are making the divisions between states greater, supporting the idea that sports might not be the path to peace and reconciliation.  While a few cases cannot disprove an idea, recent moves point in a troubling direction for the theory that we can settle differences between states on the football pitch.  Relating back to early theories of functionalism, any form of cooperation, even on the sports pitch, might be beneficial to countries at odds with each other.  The communication provided through spectacular sporting events might provide pathways for peace.  Others might argue that fighting it out on the pitch is better than fighting with guns and bullets.  While these ideas might be true in the abstract, it is tough to consider the viability of such proposals if states fail to even meet on the pitch in the first place.

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The Birth of a Sports Rivalry

cute fighting ducksHow do we communicate ideas to our audience?  What steps can we take to introduce advanced concepts to our students or the general public? Scholars work for decades on the content of their arguments but spend very little time thinking about how to translate their ideas for specific consumers of information.

In Phil Arena’s review of Braumoeller’s new excellent book, he makes a baseball reference, later noting that he does not even like sports.  This is a typical tactic in Political Science, if not all of academia.  We often make sports metaphors and analogies in order to push our point across.  No matter if you have never played an inning of ball in your life, most American academics are apt to make at least one baseball reference in class.  Most British academics are apt to make at least one reference to football, even if they hate the sport.

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Are You Ready for Some Football…..Analogies?

Recently I offered an “argument” about what conservative males find attractive about Sarah Palin — her attractiveness — and I provided some “evidence” by reference to the parallels between pretty female candidates and women sideline reporters with two XXs (Chromosomes, you creeps! Get your mind out of the gutter!). I made the claim that Bachmann’s support rested more on her craziness than her beauty, but then I found this. I am recalibrating my argument…..

But I want to push the analogy further, and ask — who gives a f*#k about the Iowa Straw Poll? Why, when Michele Bachmann wins, do they drop confetti? Don’t they usually wait to the convention for that? Winning the votes of 4,000 Iowans now gets you what American GIs had to fight the Battle of the Bulge for? Is ticker tape that much cheaper these days, that we can just use it wily-nilly?

I realized that a similar thing is happening on the NFL football field. It used to be that before a game the announcer would simply introduce the visiting team, it would run out, and everyone would boo. Then the announcer would raise his voice and cheer for “YOUR [insert city and mascot].” Everyone would cheer. And then they would play a football game. At the Super Bowl, though, they would bring giant inflatable helmets and place them in front of the tunnel to the locker rooms. They would shoot off fireworks when the teams came out. This added to the pageantry (wc?), the significance (wc?) of the ultimate game, the fight for the championship.

Now everyone has got an inflatable helmet for every regular season game. For all I know they use it in the preseason. It’s exactly like dropping confetti at the Iowa Straw Poll, a game that doesn’t mean a thing (unless you are Tim Pawlenty). Why is everything So Very Important Now so that we are all spent, jaded and unimpressed by the final contest? Seriously, unless someone’s nipple slips out, I just don’t care. (Don’t get any ideas, Romney. That was metaphorical.)

The same thing is going on at kids’ birthday parties. (Stay with me.) When I was a kid, the only place you found a bouncy house was at the State Fair. These were not available on an everyday basis, in your Personal Home. Maybe this is just Southern California, but there is a guy down the street with three kids who has a bouncy house three times a year in his backyard for every birthday. At my house, we put out some folding chairs in the backyard for the parents and turn on the sprinkler. The kids love it, but they are young. I know I am about two years away from a total meltdown when my son begins to demand a temporary rollercoaster be set up to mark the anniversary of his passing through my wife’s cervix. It’s just a birthday (straw pool, regular season game, etc)! I just want to understand this phenomenon.


Done and done

I am now officially over Sarah Palin. Hard to believe, yes, given the odd fascination with her odd-for-a-Republican-VP nominee background, but its over.

More importantly, the Republicans need to start getting over her, or they are in trouble.

Palin has now done what the McCain camp needed her to do. She effectively seized the campaign narrative form Obama and brought it to the Republicans. She did so without involving President Bush. She energized the party base. She gave what everyone is going to say was a good speech last night (though I’ll admit I didn’t really watch it because I was finishing the powerpoint for a talk I’m giving tomorrow in Cleveland).

But her day is done because the real important speech of the RNC is tonight: John McCain, who if you may have forgotten, is the name at the top of the ticket. From here on out, its McCain v Obama, or McCain / Palin v Obama / Biden. Lets not forget: She’s not at the top of the ticket. And, the record shows, people don’t vote for VP, people vote for President.

Even the VP debates aren’t that important. The most memorable VP debate moment was when Lloyd Bentsen told Dan Quayle “you’re no Jack Kennedy.” Quayle was done after that. And yet, Bush / Quayle still won.

With the convention over, McCain will get his post-convention bounce, and we’ll all be reading Nate Silver to see just how big it is. Then the real campaign will start in earnest, Obama v. McCain, and that’s why tonight’s speech is in fact the more important one.

Oh, and if you really want to swing the election, root for Overtime in tonight’s game. That’s right, its the kick-off for the NFL, in prime time on NBC. The key battleground of Northern Virginia, which Obama will be counting on to help him flip the state from red to blue, will all be tuned into the game.

McCain spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker said yesterday the prospect of an extra-long game has caused some concern: “I had talked on background with a Republican convention planner a couple of weeks ago who said, ‘Don’t mention overtime. Overtime is our rain-in-Denver scenario.’ ”

I love the NFL.


Obligatory Superbowl Post

It is the single most viewed television event in the United States annually, and one of the most watched events in the world (and yes, its no World Cup, but there is no cup to watch this year…).

After that first play, when Hester returned the opening kick-off for a Touchdown for the Bears, I thought to my self: well, game over, the Colts have won.
I wasn’t the only one.
Still, how crazy is that, the same opening, the same result for the two biggest football games of the year.

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