Monday, February 28, 2011

Why You Should Like Sport If You Don't Already

What is it about sports that has us so involved? The world over, sports - whatever form they take - make billions of dollars. But that doesn't even begin to describe the hold that it has over people. It's not just a profitable business, but a way of life, a part of culture.

It can even be used to pinpoint differences between nations. Here - I'll prove it: for the English (and indeed most of the world), there's nothing but football. But being the English, we still must cling to the past - those glory days of the Great British Empire - thus, rugby and cricket are still popular sports. The United States, never ones to conform, invented their own versions of certain sports, and they have became the main ones today - American football, baseball, basketball. And the French...well the French like whichever sport they're doing best I would say rugby right now...but we'll come to that...

Still though, why is it that we are still so enthralled with such a seemingly inconsequential thing? One might point to a common phrase, "it's only a game!" But is it?

Let's look at a couple of examples from this weekend.

Provo is buzzing right now. There isn't a soul at BYU who hasn't heard the name Jimmer Fredette, or at least a little bit about the massive top 10 win over SDSU, which launched them to No. 3 in both national polls. A win like that can really change the mood around a place, and certainly has done wonders for the LDS church's national exposure.

England beat France this weekend. No, there was not a war. Not of that kind anyway. But this was a huge game. Why? Well, OK both teams were unbeaten in this year's Six Nations tournament. But ALSO, this was England v. France. It's a rivalry that goes back centuries. Previously manifested in real wars, now it is only existent in sport. But what an existence it has.

Reason 1

And here is where we get a key reason as to why sport is so huge. It has such an important role to play in modern-day patriotism. This is why sporting rivalries so often continue old political rivalries. Take the World Cup this year. The USA saw the England match as a massive game, because of the history between the two countries. Such is the case between England and Argentina, France and Italy, or Germany and....well, anyone. And surely that can only be a good thing? If patriotism is kept alive through sport and not war, I'm sure there will be no complaints.

Reason 2

Unity. The Olympics happens every four years, but every time it does, we see the whole world sitting down to enjoy the individual achievements of others. The same thing happens with the World Cup. We may be competing against each other, but really we're all united.

Which leads me to...

Reason 3

Individual greatness. We all love inspirational stories like the one above. There is nothing like hearing a story of someone who has overcome all odds to achieve greatness. And in today's society, sporting achievements are the epitome of physical greatness. As is this man:

And besides all that, sport is just really fun! Anyone can go to a game/match/test and have the time of their life being part of a crowd of die-hard fans. In Shakespeare's time, this is what the theatre was like, but for us, there exists something that might just be better. The world of professional sport. You just have to pick a side!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Best Goal Ever?

Now every time a great player scores a great goal I'm quite the skeptic, "but would people still be saying this if he played for Notts County," I ask? Well friends, we have a rare occasion where I definitely believe that they would...which is irrelevant because I struggle to think of a player on Notts County's current roster that could manage this...

Amazing. Now let's see that for England.

In other news, anyone who is aware of BYU Athletics' student ticket policies will not be surprised when they see this picture I took at the BYU v. Utah men's basketball game.
For those of you who do not understand what they are looking at, this is the Marriott Center, two hours before the game. As is usual, the student section is completely full, with no one else there. Some of those seats will not even be full by tip off. Students have to come this early or risk being turned away without getting me, it's happened a few times (despite claims made by an email sent from BYU Athletics).

On the plus side, I got in, BYU won, Charles Abouo had a killer game, and Jimmer was alright...just the 23 points this week then.

The Utes knew what was coming. They couldn't handle the fear.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Do You Hear the Drums?

Anyone who hasn't been living under a metaphorical, Ihatefootball/thenews/anythingtopical/Idon'thatethemIjustliveinAmerica rock for the past few days will have heard about the transfer of Fernando Torres from Liverpool to Chelsea.

At the risk of revealing too much about myself, I am a Chelsea fan... so for me, this was pretty good news...

Excited as I was, it was only natural that I should share my feelings with those closest and dearest to naturally I posted a link on Facebook. The results, however, were somewhat surprising. My Facebook friends definitely know more about soccer than I gave them credit for...and it wasn't the English ones. Football is definitely a growing sport in the States, and a large part that growth is happening here in Utah; I would say that this is partly down to the number of immigrants from Central and South America, and largely because of the number of people who move to all parts of the world (serving an LDS mission) for two years and then return with a new-found passion for the game of football.

For those of you who were under the previously mentioned rock, here is the brief version of the events of the past week:

Fernando Torres is one of the best strikers in the world. Part of Spain's World Cup winning team this summer, he is a true goal-machine and was a crucial part of Liverpool's first team. However, during the World Cup and even after, he suffered something of a prolonged post-injury slump in form. This transfer window, Chelsea pounced and shelled out £50million for him. Rip off? I don't think so. Despite his drop in form, Torres remains a quality forward and will continue to be so - you can't get rid of skill of that kind. At 26 years old, he is also relatively young for a footballer today, and far younger than most of his Chelsea team mates!

I for one, cannot wait to see what Torres can achieve with this Chelsea team and I will be watching eagerly on Sunday, along with the rest of the footballing world, to see what will happen when Chelsea showdown against Liverpool.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Basketball. If there is one sport in the States that I have really grown to love, it is the one played with a bouncy orange ball, between two hoops. Ironic really, considering I couldn't stand netball in school...but that's a story for another day.

I can still remember my first basketball experience at BYU after coming to the States from England. After the formality of American football, I feel I can compare the start of the basketball season to the teenagers hosting a party once the parents leave town. At least that is the experience of college basketball. With the covered arena that is the Marriott Center, there is a real opportunity for an atmosphere.

And here in Provo, boy is there an atmosphere.

I cannot explain the chills that come with 22,000 screaming fans and a lights out introduction. Now I'm not saying it's better than a Premier League soccer match, but it is definitely a different experience.

After three years of dedicated following and support of the BYU basketball team, this year has just exploded. Freshman year, I can remember being impressed with this other freshman kid - Jimmer Fredette. "What a funny name...hey, he's pretty good!" Such was the chain of thought for most of us. This year - his and my senior year - he's finally becoming that iconic player that BYU has been looking, even grasping for (remember Plaisted? Cummard?) ever since Danny Ainge. After 42 points against #4 SDSU, here it is: Jimmer for President! Or maybe just Player of the Year...