Archive for July, 2010

Introducing Dan Carter

July 29, 2010 4 comments

Do the names Tiger Woods, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Lebron James sound familiar? Thought so. How about Dan Carter? Probably not. All of these sportsmen have one thing in common; they are among the best exponents of their craft and some of the most talented individuals their respective sports have ever seen. For Woods, Messi, Ronaldo, Federer, Nadal and James, their talent has brought them fame and fortune, but what about Carter?

It would be interesting to see what level of name recognition Carter has in the UK, I would guess considerably less than in his homeland of New Zealand, but considerably more than in, say, the US. For those of you who have not heard of Dan Carter, he is the All Blacks’ fly half and star player. Since making his international debut in 2003, the number 10 has made 71 appearances for his country and has amassed an incredible 1075 points, including an impressive 27 tries. Of these 71 matches, the All Blacks have lost just eight, showing how much of a difference Carter makes. His average of 15 points per game is the highest of any international player who has scored more than 500 points. In addition to his role for the All Blacks, Carter represents the Crusaders in New Zealand’s Super 14. He is the competition’s all-time leading scorer. Make no mistake about it, Carter is much more than a points machine. He has the pace to open up opposition defences, the vision to bring teammates in to play and the ability to kick the ball wherever he chooses. He started his international career at inside-centre and his progression to the sport’s standout fly half is testament to his talent and versatility. He has won a whole host of personal accolades, including the IRB Player of the Year in 2005. He has been nominated a further two times, a total exceeded only by his teammate Richie McCaw. Carter is still only 28 years of age and his achievements stand up against any in the world of sport, so why does he not enjoy the exposure that the likes of Ronaldo, Federer, Woods etc. do? In truth, it is owing to the sport in which he excels.

Rugby's superstar Dan Carter (This image is the property of the BBC)

Rugby may be the national game in New Zealand, but on the world stage, it is still seen as a strange game played by a handful of nations in which people inexplicably bash in to one and other at breakneck speed. This is of course a gross over-simplification of what is a highly tactical and athletic sport, but the fact is rugby is a poor relation of football, golf, tennis etc. It simply does not have the global significance that these other sports do.

Those who possess Carter’s ability in more mainstream sports are global stars and multi-millionaires. Whilst I am in no way claiming Carter is a pauper (Perpignan reputedly paid him a whopping £30,000 a game for his short spell there), compared to the likes of Messi, Ronaldo and even James, who plays what is still a very US-centric sport, the Kiwi is lagging way behind in the fame and marketability stakes. In fact, decidedly average footballers such as Emile Heskey and Pascal Chimbonda enjoy greater fame and wealth than Carter which just goes to show that the fame one can achieve and the money one can make is very much dependent on the sport one plays and not the ability one has.

Whilst it is a shame that Carter does not enjoy the adulation his talent merits, he certainly does not let it bother him. Despite injuries in recent times, the star fly half continues to rack up points and lead his country to victory after victory and we should enjoy watching such a phenomenal talent for as long as he continues to play. The big question however, is can he finally lead the All Blacks to their first World Cup triumph since 1987? If he can, his stock will rise further and he will become an even greater national hero than he is now. You would be a brave person to bet against the All Blacks pulling it off.

Categories: Rugby Union

Murali calls it a day

July 25, 2010 Leave a comment

The world of test cricket this week said goodbye to one its greatest ever bowlers as Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan bowed out in Galle. The man from Kandy made his test debut against Australia in August 1992 and has been a mainstay ever since. Throughout his career, he has, however, had to put up with constant criticism regarding his action, with everybody from Darrel Hair to Bishan Bedi calling him a chucker.

The controversy over his bowling action began during the Boxing Day test in Australia in 1995 when Hair called him for throwing seven times in three overs and it unfortunately became a stigma the off-spinner was unable to shake off with even John Howard, the former Australian Prime Minister, accusing Murali of chucking. He has undergone tests on several occasions and his action has never been found to be illegal (at least not once the ICC realised that the 5 degree bend of the arm rule was unrealistic) and so his astonishing achievements should be taken for just that. Cricket fans will not remember a chucker; they will rightly remember one of the greatest bowlers to ever hold a cricket ball.

A look at Murali’s career statistics shows just what a special talent he was. The great man took a record 800 wickets in 133 test matches at average of 22.72 and in addition to being an attacking threat, he was also very economical, with an economy rate of 2.5 runs per over. He took five wickets in a match an incredible 67 times and 10 wickets 22 times. These performances led Wisden Cricket Almanac to name him the greatest test bowler of all time and Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World in 2000 and 2006. In addition to these test cricket exploits, he also took 515 wickets in One Day Internationals (ODIs), including 53 in World Cups. He also helped the Chennai Super Kings to the IPL title earlier this year, further demonstrating his ability to perform in all forms of the game.

Muralitharan announced his retirement prior to Sri Lanka’s test versus India in Galle whilst on 792 wickets. The question on everybody’s lips was whether he could reach the 800 wicket milestone. Despite the weather’s best attempts to scupper his chances, he took five wickets in the first innings and when Sri Lanka forced India to follow on, the feat was a real possibility. Murali dismissed Yuvraj Singh and then Harbhajan Singh but despite bowling marathon spells, he could not seem to find the eighth wicket he needed. Lasith Malinga was wreaking havoc at the other end and it looked as if he would skittle the Indian batting lineup with Murali stuck on 799. However, Murali’s test career got the dream ending when tail ender Pragyan Ojha edged to the safe hands of Mahela Jayawardene in the slips. Furthermore, Sri Lanka went on to win the game by ten wickets, giving Muralitharan the perfect send off.

Reaction from all around the cricket world was unanimously positive, suggesting people have finally recognised Murali as the elite bowler he is. Fellow spin bowlers Shane Warne and Anil Kumble were quick to congratulate the Sri Lankan and Prime Minister Disanayaka Jayaratne also offered his words of congratulation.

Murali celebrates his record feat (This image is the property of The Telegraph)

Whilst he will continue to play ODIs and T20 cricket, the world of test cricket will be poorer without Muralitharan, a man who simply has to be seen as one of, if not the, best bowlers of all time. 800 wickets tells its own story but his work off the field has to be admired too. He has almost always conducted himself in a polite, gentlemanly fashion and his philanthropic exploits, particularly after the tsunami in 2004, paint a picture of a man who has used his fame and fortune to help those who are not as lucky as he. Cricket is not only losing a great player, but one of its most affable characters. It is as a great player and an affable gentleman that he will be remembered in years to come.

Muttiah Muralitharan

Name: Muttiah Muralitharan

Place of Birth: Kandy, Sri Lanka

Date of Birth: 17th April 1972

Test Match Appearances: 133

Test Match Wickets: 800

One Day Internationals: 337

One Day International Wickets: 515


Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World 2000

Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World 2006

Wisden Best Test Bowler of All Time

Categories: Cricket

Mayweather-Pacquiao: The Saga Continues

July 21, 2010 2 comments

There is only one fight any boxing fan in the world wants to see right now. No, not David Haye vs. Audley Harrison, Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao. We have two fighters both claiming to be the sport’s number one and fans from Las Vegas to Manila are divided on the issue. There is only one way for us to find out and that is for a fight between the two to take place. It has the potential to be the richest fight in the history of boxing, with some reports claiming each fighter would walk away at least $50 million better off. It would enhance the victor’s legacy immeasurably and give the fans what they want. So, the simple question is: ‘why hasn’t it happened yet?’ Well there are a few potential reasons. First we must backtrack to December last year when negotiations for a fight appeared to be going well. The money seemed to be agreed, as did the venue. Then came the blood testing issue. In short, Floyd Mayweather was adamant that he wanted Olympic style blood testing as opposed to the standard tests imposed by the Nevada state commission (the fight was going to take place in Las Vegas). Pacquiao and his camp baulked at this and took it as a personal insult, believing that the Mayweather camp was accusing him of using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). Now it must be made clear at this point that there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Manny Pacquiao has ever been involved in the use of any PEDs. The line coming from the Pacquiao camp was that he suffers for a few days after having blood drawn and so they felt that this would affect his preparations. They also, understandably, felt that they should not have to agree to something that is not standard procedure just because Floyd Mayweather demands it. The fact that what Floyd is doing is great for the sport is a separate issue. So, negotiations hit a dead end with neither side prepared to budge and Pacquiao even went so far as to set the wheels in motion for a defamation case against Mayweather and his team. In the end, Pacquiao ended up fighting (and beating) Joshua Clottey in Dallas in March and Floyd beat Shane Mosley in Las Vegas in May. Since then, there has been much talk of the two facing off in November, but once again, the fight seems to have hit a roadblock. Pacquiao, it would seem, has agreed to some form of testing that is acceptable to the Mayweathers, so what is the issue now? In short, it’s complicated. Last week, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum took part in a conference call to let the press, and fans, know where things are at. This is a refreshing change from unsubstantiated mudslinging (a common occurrence in boxing) and the following became clear from what was said:

A) Importantly, the mudslinging and arguing between the two camps seems to have ended and there looks to be a serious effort to make the fight happen.

B) Arum interestingly revealed that there have never been any direct negotiations between the two camps. According to the legendary promoter, all negotiations have gone through HBO President of Sports, Ross Greenburg. So, in effect, Arum has been speaking to Greenburg who has then been speaking to Mayweather advisor Al Haymon. The Top Rank chief explained that he believed Haymon was working very hard to make the fight happen and that he respected this. What did seem to come as a surprise to Arum is that Golden Boy head honchos Oscar de la Hoya and Richard Schaeffer seem to be involved somewhere along the line.

C) The basics of the fight such as the purses and venue do not seem to be an issue.

D) According to Arum, Pacquiao wants to fight Mayweather more than he wants to face any other fighter.

E) It had been reported that Mayweather and his representatives had missed a deadline to accept the fight which was midnight last Friday. Arum clarified this point, stating that this was merely the end of what he called the ‘exclusivity period’ and not the closing of the door to a fight. They may well now look to another opponent for a November fight, but if Mayweather now comes out and says he is willing, they will gladly negotiate, just not exclusively with Mayweather.

F) Finally and most importantly, Arum could not stress enough that he feels there is a genuine reason for Mayweather refusing to commit to a fight at this point in time. He did not accuse Floyd of ducking the Filipino. Arum said he does not know what the issue is, but speculated that it may be linked to his uncle and trainer Roger Mayweather’s impending court case. For those of you who do not know, Uncle Roger is up for assaulting a female boxer and could face jail if convicted. Arum said he understands that Mayweather would not be wanting to prepare for the biggest fight of his career whilst at risk of losing his trainer part way through training camp. There is a very good chance that this will be part of Floyd’s thought process.

Top Rank CEO Bob Arum

Now this is, of course, only one side of the story but in fairness it all sounded very reasonable and Arum sounded optimistic about the prospect of a fight at some point in the future. So what now?

Floyd says he is in no rush to get back in to the ring and Pacquiao’s schedule is now complicated by the fact that he is a congressman in his native Philippines. Arum claims that a rematch with newly crowned WBA Light-Middleweight champion is a possibility, as is a fight with the disgraced Antonio Margarito in Monterrey. Let’s be honest, these are not the fight that we want to see, but we may just have to be patient with this one. Arum was upbeat and I have always believed, and still do, that this fight WILL happen. At the end of the day, boxing is the ultimate money talks sport and there will be plenty to go round if a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight materialises. As long as Cotto, Margarito or anybody else does not throw a spanner in the works, look out for the richest fight of all time to take place sometime in 2011.

Categories: Boxing

World Cup 2010: Team of the Tournament

July 12, 2010 4 comments

Well, that’s all folks! The football extravaganza that is the World Cup has been and gone, in what seemed like the blink of an eye. As per usual, the final was far from a classic, but congratulations to Spain on deservedly becoming world champions for the first time in their history.

The World Cup threw up plenty of surprises, with many of the names expected to shine failing to produce the goods. On the other hand, many lesser known players enhanced their reputation. So who were the best players? Sport Report names its Team of the Tournament.

Goalkeeper: Maarten Stekelenburg (Netherlands)

In all honesty, goalkeeper was the hardest position to pick in this team as nobody really had a stand out tournament. Casillas may have keep a string of clean sheets as Spain ‘George Grahamed’ their way to the title, but he looked shaky throughout. Stekelenburg made a number of fine saves throughout the tournament, including a couple in last night’s final and his defence seemed very much happy that he was the man behind them. Bar misjudging Diego Forlan’s strike in the semi-final, the Ajax stopper was solid throughout and so is the ‘keeper in this team.

Full Back: Gregory van der Wiel (Netherlands)

Granted, the young Ajax full back looks much better going forward than he does defending, but that doesn’t mean to say that he cannot defend. He was a revelation for the Dutch, as reliable as anybody for them and let’s not forget, he is still only 22. A major reason for the success enjoyed by the Dutch in South Africa, don’t be surprised if Europe’s big boys (and Manchester City) start to chase his signature.

Centre Back: Gerard Piqué (Spain)

Spain won four straight games 1-0 en route to World Cup glory and the young Barcelona man was a key reason for that. Reads the game well, good in the air and fantastic on the ball, Piqué is becoming one the world’s elite defenders and he proved it in South Africa.

Centre Back: Lucio (Brazil)

Germany’s Arne Friedrich is unlucky to miss out but Lucio continued his great form for Inter at the World Cup. It is the most defensively sound team Brazil has probably ever produced and the Inter man is the main reason for that. Commanding in the air, committed in the tackle and better on the ball than most midfielders, Lucio is truly top drawer. Produced a number of fine performances until his goalkeeper pushed the self destruct button versus the Netherlands and so merits his place in the team.

Full Back: Phillipp Lahm (Germany)

Without any doubt, Lahm is the world’s best fullback. A genuine all round player who is a top class defender and offers plenty going forward. He captained his side with aplomb and the added responsibility seemed to improve his performances as nobody seemed to find a way past him. No question he was one of the stars of the tournament.

Midfield: Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany)

Ever since Schweini has moved into a central midfield role, he has seemed rejuvenated. He acted as Germany’s quarterback in a deep lying midfield role, much like Xavi for Spain and hardly seemed to put a foot wrong. He is now maturing in to one of the finest players in Europe and his form for Bayern Munich and Germany is proof of this. His run through the Argentine defence in the quarter-final to set up Klose’s second goal was one of the best individual moments of the World Cup.

Midfield: Wesley Sneijder. (Netherlands)

Will no doubt be a contender for the Ballon d’or come December having won the treble in Italy, but he was unable to add the biggest prize of them all. Still, on a personal level, Sneijder had a wonderful World Cup, finishing joint top scorer with five goals, including two against Brazil and producing a string of top performances in his team’s run to the final.

Midfield: Thomas Müller (Germany)

This was a world cup that saw the headline: Müllered as a youngster from Weilheim left his mark on the world’s biggest stage. This spot was a toss up between Müller and his young teammate Mesut Özil, but how can you pick against the man who won the Golden Boot with five goals and three assists? You can’t and that is why the man from Bayern Munich gets the nod.

Midfield: Keisuke Honda (Japan)

I may cop some flak for omitting the likes of Robben, Iniesta, Xavi and Özil , but in a way Honda typified this World Cup as he outshone the likes of Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Japan played some of the best football on show at the tournament and Honda was the man pulling the strings. Looking good in an average team is not easy and that is why he finds his way in to the team ahead of the aforementioned superstars. Technically very sound, his passing and control were first rate and he even succeeded where almost everyone else failed by rifling in a free kick Cristiano Ronaldo would have been proud of.

Striker: David Villa (Spain)

Seemed to carry Spain in the earlier games, scoring a number of vital goals. El Guaje has been one of the hottest strikers on Earth for years now and so it came as no surprise to see him produce the goods again for his country. Now only one goal shy of Raul’s record haul for Spain, but more importantly, a World Cup winner.

Striker: Diego Forlan (Uruguay)

The official player of the tournament had a summer to remember, leading unfashionable Uruguay, a country of only 3.5 million people, to the World Cup semi-final. Scored five goals but also proved his versatility, playing just off the striker and acting as a creative force. An absolute shoe-in for this team.

Unlucky to miss out: You could make a very good case for all the following players, but at the end of the day, there is only room for 11 starters!

Arjen Robben (Netherlands)

Andres Iniesta (Spain)

Xavi (Spain)

Mesut Özil (Germany)

Iker Casillas (Spain)

Arne Friedrich (Germany)

Miroslav Klose (Germany)

Asamoah Gyan (Ghana)

Kevin Prince Boateng (Ghana)

Robinho (Brazil)

Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Netherlands)

Landon Donovan (USA)

Sport Report Player of the Tournament: Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany)

Bastian Schweinsteiger: Sport Report Player of the Tournament (This is image is the property of The Daily Telegraph)

This is obviously a bit of fun and is not meant to be a team that would function! Do you agree with the choices? Who would you change? Let us know, all comments are welcome!

Categories: Football

Netherlands vs Spain: World Cup Final Preview

July 10, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s here! The biggest game in the world’s biggest sport has finally arrived. Before the tournament kicked off a month ago, people were speculating on who would win. Many of the nations mentioned (Brazil, Argentina, England) have fallen by the wayside and we are left with two teams who have long been seen as two of football’s perennial underachievers, the Netherlands and Spain. Amazingly, the two have never before met in the World Cup and the winner is guaranteed to be a new name on the World Cup trophy. Sport Report previews this intriguing battle of two European giants.


Spain are arguably the best side in the world having beaten all comers over the last three years. The team is packed with world-class operators from Iker Casillas in net to David Villa up front and unlike other nations, (no names mentioned!) they live up to the hype.

Key Players

Xavi: The diminutive midfield maestro is probably the best player in world football about now. He never seems to give the ball away, directs the team like an orchestra conductor and even chips in with the odd goal. Quite simply, he is the heartbeat of the team and if you stop him, you stop the supply line and are a good way towards stopping the Spaniards. The Netherlands will surely target the Barcelona man as someone who needs to be closely watched.

David Villa: Indisputably one of the stars of the tournament and the joint leading scorer with 5 goals. Villa has long been an elite class striker bagging goal after goal for both club and country. His international record of 43 goals in 64 games makes El Guaje one of, if not the, most profilic striker in international football and he always seems to get it done when it matters. This World Cup has been no exception, even if he has been asked to play in an old-fashioned outside-left position. The Germans did a good job of nullifying him in the semi-final and if the Dutch are to stand a chance of winning, they will need to do the same.

Andres Iniesta: Like Xavi, a product of the Barcelona system and so he plays the beautiful game in the most beautiful way. Excellent passer of the ball and also has the rare gift of being able to easily beat defenders. Goes about his job with the minimum of fuss and always seems to influence a game. On his day, he is capable of being the difference.

Spain’s strength lies in their ability to retain possession. No team anywhere in the world is as adept at passing the ball, but with this comes a tendency to overpass. At times, there can be a lack of incision and a shortage of chances created. In truth, they have been playing within themselves at this World Cup and have not really needed to get out of third gear. Scary, given that it has been good enough to get them to the final. One goal has been enough so far as their defence has remained solid, but whether this will be the case against the Netherlands remains to be seen.

The Netherlands

A good friend of mine said before the World Cup that he felt the Netherlands would win the World Cup and I have to say, I was sceptical. The Dutch have always had very good teams and players. In fact this team is less talented than those that went before it. However, they always had a tendency to self-destruct with infighting and ill-discipline often over-shadowing their footballing talent. This time around, Bert van Marwijk seems to have instilled a sense of unity and discipline not often associated with his country’s teams. Let us not forget however, that they do have some genuine quality and players in form and that having beaten Brazil, they are in the final very much on merit.

Key Players

Arjen Robben: The Bayern Munich winger has always been a wonderfully talented player but a combination of injuries and spats have often hampered his progress. That has all changed in the last 12 months since he joined fellow Dutchman Louis van Gaal at Bayern Munich. A string of stellar performances in this season’s Champions League and Bundesliga have seen the flying Dutchman rejuvenated, scoring goals for fun and he has continued this form in to the World Cup. If Robben is up for it, he can almost win a game single-handedly. He has pace to burn, a wicked left foot and is capable of creating and scoring goals. Robben will likely be up against Joan Capdevila and the Dutch will look at this as an area in which they can have a great deal of success so keep a close eye on Robben in tomorrow’s game.

Wesley Sneijder: What can I say about Sneijder? He has had the season of his life, winning Serie A, the Coppa Italia and the Champions League at Internazionale. If he can help the Netherlands to their first World Cup triumph, he has to be the overwhelming favourite to clinch European and World Player of the Year. Sneijder is naturally blessed with great technical ability, something which is very evident in his passing and set piece delivery. Furthermore, he is a serious goal threat and is the tournament’s joint top scorer. Much like Xavi for Spain, he is the creative heartbeat of the team and so will need to be stopped.

Mark van Bommel: Not as gifted a footballer as the others mentioned here but he is vitally important to the Netherlands’ chances of winning tomorrow. Internazionale demonstrated that the way to beat Barcelona is to stifle the midfield and the exact same approach is required against Spain. To do this, you need to get in amongst them and hurry them up. Van Bommel is highly experienced and a real grafter in the centre of midfield. He will be key in the battle to limit the influence of Xavi. If van Bommel has a great game, the Dutch will have a real chance.

Team News

The only real big story in this area revolves around Fernando Torres and whether or not Vicente del Bosque will start with him. The Liverpool striker is undoubtedly a world class talent capable of causing defenders hell, but he has clearly been out of sorts at this World Cup. He was left out of the semi-final versus Germany with del Bosque preferring to play Pedro off David Villa. The young Barcelona man had a good game and so may well retain his place in the starting lineup, but other alternatives to Torres include another striker in the shape of Fernando Llorente or an attacking midfielder in Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas. It will be interesting to see what del Bosque does in this regard.


On paper, Spain are the better side, but football matches are won on grass not paper and they will need to earn the win tomorrow. Spain’s strength lies in central midfield, which they pack with class in the form of Xavi, Iniesta and the vastly underrated Xabi Alonso. The Dutch need to make sure that they do not afford these players too much time and space, otherwise they will keep the ball all day and eventually fashion chances for the likes of Villa. The Netherlands do, however, have players capable of doing this in the form of van Bommel and Kuyt who are prepared to put in a real shift for the benefit of the team. They also possess their own world class attacking threats in Sneijder, Robben and Robin van Persie and Spain must be wary of them. It’s an intriguing game and one which I think will be tight. I do, however, see a final score of 1-1 at full time, with the Netherlands going on to win on penalties.


The Netherlands win on penalties

Categories: Football

Should we have sympathy for Tiger Woods?

July 5, 2010 3 comments

In the Tiger Woods video games one of the player-controlled golfer’s exclamations is “where is the break!?” The man whose name the game bears must be thinking exactly the same. It has been a tough eight or nine months for the world’s number one golfer. When news broke of a car accident near his Florida home last November, few could have imagined the story that was about to unfold. I won’t go in to the ins and outs of it as I am sure you all know them by now, but it basically involves Woods satisfying what was later revealed as a sex addiction with a string of beauties.

His inability to say no has seemingly cost him his marriage to Swedish model Elin Nordegren, with reports this week suggesting that a $200 million divorce settlement is close to being finalised. More importantly, it has probably cost him everyday access to his two young children. Having spoken of the effects his own father’s infidelity had on his family life, Tiger is acutely aware of the lasting damage he has done and it is something he will have to live with for the rest of his life.

Now I will make it clear at this point that I in no way condone Woods’s actions. He, and only he, is to blame for sleeping with a number of other women. No one made him. No one makes you marry these days and you can live that playboy lifestyle if you so choose, but not if you get married. Woods broke the most important moral code there is and that is unforgiveable. I also have to stress that I feel for his wife. If being cheated on makes you feel inadequate, imagine how it must feel when the whole world knows about it. However, has he deserved the treatment to which he has been subjected?

Tiger Woods is still dealing with the fallout from a string of affairs. (This image is the property of the Daily Mail)

Let’s be honest, Woods has done what millions of people, men and women, do every year so this is hardly an earth-shattering revelation, especially in the US. Now this does not make it alright, but these people get to deal with the mess they have caused in their own time and in privacy. The 14 time major winner does not have that luxury. Every move he makes, both on and off the golf course, is scrutinised by fans, fellow players, so-called body language experts and, well, everyone really. ‘Normal’ people who cheat, often still enjoy the support of friends and family and whilst I do not know Tiger’s personal situation, he must surely feel like the whole world has turned against him. When David Beckham reportedly cheated on Victoria, the press inexplicably blamed her, so why is Tiger Woods being treated differently?

Is it because he held his hands up and admitted he has a problem? Acknowledging that you have a problem is the first step in addressing it and so Tiger deserves some credit for this. Admitting to the world that you have a sex addiction cannot be easy. Most of us would have difficulty telling our parents. Many of those lambasting the golfer do not know what goes on in his private life and who is to say that they would never do it? If they were faced with the temptation Woods was, would they be able to say no? It is wrong to judge somebody’s life from the outside looking in. We are all guilty of this, but some of what has been written about Woods is out of order. In some social circles (barbaric ones) he would be lauded as a ‘legend’ and ‘hero’ and I dare say that there is an element of envy in the Woods hate campaign.

The problem is that Woods (with the aid of his masterful PR team) perhaps made a rod for his own back when he chose to promote himself as wholesome role model with strong family values and made millions of dollars off the back of this image. His behaviour therefore, is seen as unforgiveable and riddled with hypocrisy. Indeed Woods cashed in to an unbelievable extent on his fame, talent and good looks, reportedly becoming sport’s first billionaire and maybe it is this that people resent. Maybe they feel they have been taken for a ride. The fame and the greenbacks do not however, make it any easier for him to deal with a personal crisis. Whatever the case, Woods knows he has made a monumental error of judgement, one that has cost him his wife, children and millions of dollars, not to mention his reputation and whilst people are right to point out that infidelity is not acceptable and that he deserves no sympathy following his actions, the time has come to let him deal with the mess he has made in privacy and in his own time. He deserves at least that and if he does not, then his wife and children do.

So, does Woods deserve sympathy? No. Are the problems of his own doing? Yes. Should he be allowed to grieve in private? Yes.

The saddest part of the whole saga is that we seem to have forgotten what made Tiger Woods famous; golf. He is one of, if not the, greatest golfer to ever swing a club and whether or not people like to admit it, golf needs Tiger Woods more than Tiger Woods needs golf. The golf world is currently impoverished with Woods clearly a shadow of his former self. The sooner he is allowed to focus on his game, the better for all of us, for there is arguably no finer sight in sport than an on song Tiger prowling the course on day four. Let’s hope we get to see it again soon.

Categories: Golf

Who will win the World Cup?

July 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Well, we are now down to just four teams and some of the big favourites are back at home. Maybe your pre-tournament pick is one of them. Maybe you have just changed your mind. Who do you think will go on to lift the trophy on July 11th?

Categories: Football

Teams Wade in for Lebron

July 1, 2010 5 comments

Back in the 19th Century, European superpowers such as France, Britain and Germany engaged in a free-for-all for control of African countries rich in natural resources. This became known as the scramble for Africa. Right now in the NBA, there is a scramble to put this to shame as organisations from all around the league look for control of the NBA’s very own diamond mine, Lebron James. As if that wasn’t enough to get them going, Dwyane Wade is also up for grabs.

The reason is that the two superstars are now unrestricted free agents and free to sign for whoever they please and owners and general managers are falling over themselves to meet with them. For those of you more familiar with football than basketball, imagine Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi both being available on Bosmans at the same time…

Just about every team in the NBA has been linked with King James, from Jay-Z’s abject New Jersey Nets to the once great Chicago Bulls. So what are the options for the current league MVP?

New Jersey Nets

The Nets finished last season with a dismal record of 12-70, becoming only the fifth team to lose 70 games in a season in the process. They need something and they see Lebron as the answer, or at least part of it. The Nets are due to move from Newark to Brooklyn for the 2011-2012 season and many believe that they are banking on the lure of the Big Apple to entice Lebron. However, the move appears to be behind schedule with groundbreaking at the site of the new Barclays Center only beginning in March of this year. So why would Lebron join what is quite frankly a shambolic outfit? The honest answer is I don’t know and I don’t think he will. That said, the Nets did meet with the great man and his representatives today (July 1st) and they feel it went well. Incoming Nets coach Avery Johnson said they had a “great presentation” and that he was glad they had “a chance to swing.”

Chicago Bulls

The NBA powerhouse of the 90s has fallen off the radar somewhat. They have never come close to replacing Michael Jordan (not that you can, mind!), but they really have fallen from grace. They do however, now have promising youngsters in the team. Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose look like stars of the future and many are excited at the prospect of them linking up with James, who is, let’s not forget, still only 25 himself. Indeed Lebron has spoken excitedly about Rose stating that the sky is the limit for him and there is of course the theory that Lebron is a life long Bulls fan. If this is true, can he resist the chance to restore the organisation to its former glory?

New York Knicks

Like the Nets, the Knicks had the chance to meet with James and his representatives today. They sent Coach Mike D’Antoni, President Donnie Walsh and former star player and now Walsh’s assistant, Allan Houston. There is again a theory that Lebron will be lured by the thought of living in New York, but surely he can go there whenever he wants anyway? Besides, he will spend half of the year on the road. Like the Bulls, the Knicks are a sleeping giant, but they have not shown any signs of being ready to compete for titles and they do not have youngsters like Noah and Rose. If Lebron wants a championship ring, he may go elsewhere, if he’s in it for the greenbacks, he may choose the Knicks.

Cleveland Cavaliers

James has turned the Cavaliers from a laughing stock to a genuine contender and is adored in Ohio as a result. He plays in a good team and earns great money so don’t rule out him staying put.

Dwyane Wade may not quite be the crossover star that James is but he is arguably a more interesting free agent case than him. At 28, D-Wade would be well-advised to choose it well as it will probably be his last chance to move whilst in his prime. Of all the star free agents on the market, Wade is arguably the least likely to move. He loves Miami as a city and Florida’s generous tax laws are a further incentive to stay put. He likes playing for the Heat and is acutely aware of the fact that no-one else will be able to match his current salary. Unlike James, Wade already has a ring and so the pressure to chase a championship is not there, but the complication comes in the form of the Bulls. Wade is a Chicago native and self-confessed Bulls fan. Will he be tempted? Furthermore, if the Bulls bag James, will this prove too much to turn down? We will see.

The two star players have only been free agents for a matter of hours and so their futures are still very much up in the air. The fact is that there are a lot of rumours and smoke and mirrors stuff going on. No one knows who is going where, but it is sure going to be fun watching and finding out!

Other free agents to watch

Joe Johnson (SG) – looks likely to stay in Atlanta on a six year $120 million contract

Dirk Nowitzki (PF) – the big German is tipped to remain a Mav despite a trip to NYC

Chris Bosh (C) – rumoured to be interesting the Knicks who may even try to unite him with James and Wade in an ambitious play

Amar’e Stoudemire (PF/C) – looks to be on the next plane out of Phoenix. Some sources claim the Knicks are keen on taking him and bringing him together with Johnson and James

Categories: Basketball