Secret voting makes room for speculations

This weekend the Premier League and the Championship team of the year was revealed, the teams are selected by English sports journalist, and I’m not the only one some questioning some of the picks made by the British press.

In the Premier League team of the year two names left out by the British press comes to mind immediately, Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fàbregas and Manchester City striker Sergio Agüero. Fàbregas being the league leader in assists this season with 16, six more then second place, and Agüero being the top scorer this season with 21 goals.

I think especially Fàbregas deserved a place on the team, not only leading in assists, but also being one of the most important pieces on the team that looks to win the league this season. Instead of Fàbregas they put Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, who stands with “only” four goals and four goals, compared to Fàbregas three goals and 16 assists.

And in the Championship team of the year is lacking the player, voted by the same reporters, which received the player of the season award, Patrick Bamford. Patrick Bamford is a English midfielder loaned out to Middleborough from Chelsea and I think deservedly won the player of the season award, but he still got left out of the team of the year, I am one of the many that doesn’t understand the logic behind that.

I don’t know exactly which reporters votes on the players, but I really like the idea that Bill Simmons had for the NBA voting, which he wrote in his book “The Book of Basketball,” that the reporters voting should be made public. That will make the reporters voting have to defend their picks.

I don’t know, but having Coutinho on the Premier League of the year makes me wonder if there has been a number of Liverpool based reporters giving to high scores to that player. Every year it just seems there is always one or two picks that no one following the sport closely understands. So I would really much like that the voters and their pics should be made public, not only in football, but in all sports. It will make the voters more conscious on their picks and maybe take away some of the “controversy” surrounding these awards.

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Are tragic events taboos in sports journalism? Part 2

License:  CC0 Public Domain

License: CC0 Public Domain

This is a continuation piece of a bigger post, so please read part 1 below before reading this, it will not make too much sense otherwise, thank you.

I have a theory. What is sports? If we break it down as much as we can, in the end it’s all a game, a match, a race or whatever the term, it is a trivial competition. I know, I know, sports is a lot more, it can mean a lot more for a person, a family, a group, a region and even a country, but when we break it down as much as we can, it is trivial, it is an escape. I know, the media knows and many (don’t feel secure enough to say most) people know that there are more important issues going on then sports news. ISIS, Boko Harem, the Israeli-Palestine conflict, global warming, poverty, starvation, these are just a few issues going on right now, it’s not like there isn’t enough important issues going on that we need to cover sports to have something to write about. Sports is an escape for many, people turn to sports to get away from the “serious” news, they want trivial news.

Many of you knows the term “the media loves scandals and tragedy’s”, I wouldn’t say that it’s wrong either. The media gets more “clicks” and more viewers on those kind of stories, then they do on happier “kitten stories”. My theory is that in sport news scandals sell, tragedies does not. The difference you ask? I separate them like this; it’s a scandal if there is doping involved, it’s a scandal if it’s corruption involved, but it’s a tragedy if serious danger occurs or lives are lost. This is just my opinion thinking back on things I’ve read and how much the different stories have been covered, but I would love to hear back from you. What do you think, am I way off?

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Are tragic events taboos in sports journalism? Part 1

Screen shot of a tweet sent out by Fenerbahçe's international account @fenerint

Screen shot of a tweet sent out by Fenerbahçe’s international account @fenerint

Saturday night one of the elite teams in the Turkish top division, Fenerbahçe Spor Kulübü, got attacked on their way home from an away game. Fenerbahçe had just beaten Çaykur Rizespor 5-1, and was on their way back to the airport to travel back to Istanbul. There were over 40 players and staff members on the team bus that got attacked. The attacked seems to be performed by one man who fired some kind of rifle, believed to be a shotgun, towards the team bus. The bus driver is the only one who go shot, and latest reports says he is in a stabile coma. This story was allover the news, at lest the sports news, on Saturday, but already as I am writing this on SUNDAY(!!) the story has been pushed down and the new top story is how Cristiano Ronaldo scored five goals for Real Madrid in their game on Sunday. WOW!

Screen shot of a tweet sent out by Fenerbahçe's international account @fenerint

Screen shot of a tweet sent out by Fenerbahçe’s international account @fenerint

So I started thinking how and why can such a big, horrible story get pushed down so fast? Can it be because it’s a small team in European standards and don’t really have global appeal? No, the Turkish league is a fairly big and attractive league, Fenerbahçe is one of the elite teams, they won the league last season and are fighting to become back-to-back champions, and they were in the Europa League semifinal two seasons ago, so I don’t think it has anything to do with the size of the club or the reputation of the league. This is a big story, it would have been big if it happened to a team in the fourth division in Belgium, and it should be huge since it happened to a big team in a pretty big league.

Screen shot of a tweet sent out by Fenerbahçe's international account @fenerint

Screen shot of a tweet sent out by Fenerbahçe’s international account @fenerint

So why then, why is this story being pushed down by the media and considered “not important” or “old news” in less than 24 hours? Is sport news really so trivial that the media tries to hide the more “serious” news concerning sports or if not hide, maybe cover it as much as they should? I got stuck thinking about that question for a while, thinking back on scandals and tragedy that involved sports. It’s not like those stories aren’t covered, I can name a dozens of scandals and tragic stories concerning sports, Lance Armstrong doping (I hate doping so much and I hate that smug bastard even more), Christian Benitez dying of heart failure, FIFA corruption allegations, Ray Rice hitting his girlfriend, I have plenty more where that came from. So what’s the deal then, I remember these stories, some of them got covered really well, is this shooting accident an exception not the rule?

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Charity match extravaganza part 2

Gerrard playing for England in Euro 2012 Photo by: Arvedui89 CC BY-SA 3.0

Gerrard playing for England in Euro 2012
Photo by: Arvedui89
CC BY-SA 3.0

Leading up to the game there had been an unusually amount of press coverage considering it is just a testimonial game. A few weeks before the game a clip of Gerrard and Liverpool icon Jamie Carragher selecting their team for the match was published, this is pretty unusual. I’m having a hard time figuring out why this game got as much publicity as it did. Gerrard is a Liverpool icon and will go in the history books as one of the best players ever to play for Liverpool, and both the teams had several superstar and legends of the game, but I still find it odd that this game got as much press as it did, especially since Gerrard isn’t even retiring, just switching leagues.

Over the last few seasons several other icons and legends from other clubs have retired or switched teams and had testimonial games, such as Giggs, Scholes, Del Piero and Zanetti. Their teams also included superstars and legends, it is nothing new, but they didn’t get nearly as much press as Gerrard’s testimonial.

I’m thinking it maybe because he in an English player, even though Scholes was English too, but Scholes was never a press favorite because he stayed as much away from the spotlight as he could. So that’s my best guess we this much got hyped up so much, does any of you have a better suggestion? I would love to hear it. By the way, the game ended a 2-2 draw, with Gerrard scoring both of his team goals.

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Charity match extravaganza part 1

Steven Gerrard Photo by: Biser Todorov  CC BY-SA 4.0

Steven Gerrard
Photo by: Biser Todorov
CC BY-SA 4.0

After a football player has been in the same club for ten or more seasons straight the club has the option to give that player a testimonial match. . A testimonial match is seen as a great honor for the player, and is a token of gratitude and respect from the club he has served. A testimonial match is usually the honored players club filled with current and former players from that club versus some other club, or it can be two teams just filled with a mixture of current and retired players from all over, but either way all the proceeds goes towards the player’s selected charity. Testimonial matches are often held at either the end of a season (May/June) or just before the start of a new one (August).

On Saturday Liverpool player Steven Gerrard got his testimonial, after serving Liverpool for the last 17 years. Gerrard announced he is leaving Liverpool after this season to come play for the MLS team Los Angeles Galaxy earlier this year. The two teams, Gerrard XI and Carragher XI, consisted of current Liverpool players, former Liverpool players and a handful of current and former Premier League players. The reason the match was played now and not until after the season ends is because it is a league break this week, meaning players called up to play for their national team is away, so it was a good time to host the testimonial.

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Anything you say can and will be used against you

Photo by: Geralt CC0 Public Domain

Photo by: Geralt
CC0 Public Domain

Monday night was the FA cup quarter final between Manchester United and Arsenal. The game was played on United’s home ground, Old Trafford, also known as the Theatre of Dreams. None of the teams are close to winning the league this season, the two teams are separated by just one point lying in 3rd and 4th, so the FA cup was their only chance of getting any silverware this season.

Sadly Arsenal won the game 2-1 and went though to the semifinals after ex-Manchester United player Danny Welbeck scored the winner for Arsenal. Manchester United’s manager, Louis Van Gaal, sold Welbeck to Arsenal last summer, saying that Welbeck was “more a substitute than a line-up player.” Now of course both the press and social media are blowing up the quote just because Welbeck scored one goal, the goal that sent United out of the FA cup.

Photo by: Unisouth CC BY-SA 3.0

Photo by: Unisouth
CC BY-SA 3.0

I can’t remember one news outlet or even anyone on social media disagreeing with the quote at the time, since he had been mostly a substitute player through his years at the club, and United already had Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie and Falco, considered to be world class strikers, in the club. Even now, with Van Persie and Falco having a rough season, I still think his quote is as true today as it was last summer. It’s not like Welbeck is having such a great season, eight goals in 27 games, that isn’t exactly world-class stats. But both the press and rival fans love to dig up old quotes to try and prove a point. But even the goal that Welbeck scored wasn’t great, it was a mistake from the United defense. United’s right back Antonio Valencia played a weak back pass towards United’s goalkeeper that Welbeck picked up, rounded the keeper and put the ball into the empty net.

It can explain why both managers and players can tend to have “the same” boring interview again and again, because everything you say can be found and used against you at any time. But then again, it can go both ways. Alan Hansen is known for a famous quote that later turned out to hunt him. Hansen worked as a football pundit on BCC’s Match of the Day when he said “you can’t win anything with kids” following Manchester United’s 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa in the opening game in the 95/96 season, United went on to win the double, the league and the FA cup, and Sir Alex Ferguson, United manager at the time, made Hansen look like a fool. So either you’re a player, manager or work in the press, everything you say can and will be used against you at some time.

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Pitch invasion under FA cup quarter final

Screenshot of a tweet from Sky Sports
This Saturday the FA cup quarter final between Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion were played in Villa Park, the home stadium of Aston Villa. Villa won the game 2-0, and after the final whistle Villa fans stormed the pitch in celebration.

For television viewers it can be fun to watch fans be so ecstatic after a win and fun to see them want to celebrate with the players, like these fans did after Watford secured promotion to the Premier League a few seasons ago, but it is a pretty serious matter. When fans are able to go onto the pitch alongside players and staff, it becomes a security risk, as you can see and read here.

Villa player Fabian Delph claimed in an interview after the game that one of the fans actually bit him when they tried to kiss him. West Brom manager Tony Pulis called the invasion a disgrace and called the fans for idiots in an interview after the game.

During the 70’s and 80’a pitch invasion was a regular threat in English football, therefore the FA will take at this incident very seriously. Aston Villa will probably receive a big fine and maybe face other consequences as well, and the Villa fans they can identify will probably be given lifetime bans. The fact that it happened twice in the same game makes it worse. First some fans ran onto the pitch after Villa scored their second goal late on in the game, then thousands of fans stormed the pitch after the final whistle.

It can be tricky trying to figure out a way to keep thousands of enthusiastic fans in their seats without resorting to violence and other harsh reactions, so I hope that the FA will give out big punishments to both the club and the fans to scare off others thinking about doing the same thing.

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