British Olympic chiefs are to force athletes to sign a contract promising not to speak out about China’s appalling human rights record “ or face being banned from travelling to Beijing.
The move “ which raises the spectre of the order given to the England football team to give a Nazi salute in Berlin in 1938 “ immediately provoked a storm of protest.
The controversial clause has been inserted into athletes’ contracts for the first time and forbids them from making any political comment about countries staging the Olympic Games.
It is contained in a 32-page document that will be presented to all those who reach the qualifying standard and are chosen for the team.
From the moment they sign up, the competitors “ likely to include the Queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips and world record holder Paula Radcliffe “ will be effectively gagged from commenting on China’s politics, human rights abuses or illegal occupation of Tibet.
Yesterday the British Olympic Association (BOA) confirmed to The Mail on Sunday that any athlete who refuses to sign the agreements will not be allowed to travel to Beijing.
Should a competitor agree to the clause but then speak their mind about China, they will be put on the next plane home.
The clause, in section 4 of the contract, simply states: œ[Athletes] are not to comment on any politically sensitive issues.
It then refers competitors to Section 51 of the International Olympic Committee charter, which œprovides for no kind of demonstration, or political, religious or racial propaganda in the Olympic sites, venues or other areas.
As noted by the Roman poet Juvenal, all Romans were interested in was “bread and circuses.” The famed Circus Maximus — despite exorbitant ticket prices and inadequate parking — was filled every weekend with wrestling matches, lute concerts and monster chariot pulls.
It was a land in which supreme prosperity led to base gratification. In the year 63, for instance, Nero fired his chief of staff after a fourth-place finish in his fantasy gladiator league.
Other sporting excesses were in overabundance:
* – secondary schools let out early to watch the World Series of Rock Throwing.
* – Institutions of higher learning were handing out javelin scholarships like so many beads at Mardi Gras.
* – Marcus Aurelius tried to use public monies to implode the Colosseum and replace it with a retractable-roof facility.
* – Several top marathoners reportedly were using bottled water brought in from Crete.
Well, the imperious Romans eventually tumbled — to this day, you can’t get a good steam and a rub in that part of the world — and, centuries later, Team USA reigns. But, my friends, we are teetering in broad daylight, for we love our games often at the expense of our needs.
I am reminded of something ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit said before the Ohio State-Michigan football game in 2006: “When I was in high school, when I started to realize I was going to play at a pretty high level of football in college and it was the middle of the Cold War. . . . I used to go to bed praying to hold off nuclear bombs until I got a chance to play in the Ohio State-Michigan game.”
He got his wish, and on the downside of American civilization, the band plays on.
Not for the first time, Karl Malone proves to be a little sensitive. Imagine what the Chuckster will be saying about Joakim Noah’s draft day duds in twenty years. If the former is still on TNT, anyway.
A wire services recap of Texas’ throttling of Texas A&M last night failed to mention that a pair of Longhorns fans sank successive halfcourt shots, the first shooter scoring a year’s worth of Chick-Fil-A, the second contestant earning a year’s supply of grub from Jack In The Box.
Needless to say, Contestant No. 2 might be feeling a bit ripped off this morning.
“I’ve been around professional athletes for 30 years and have never met one more decent than Andy Pettitte” writes the Houston Chronicle’s Richard Justice. Hey, I’ve not been around any professional athletes during that spell, and I’ve still never met one who signed a lucrative Yankee contract the day after he learned he was implicated in the Mitchell Report.
In a soul-cleansing, hour-long news conference, Pettitte talked about how he’d struggled with the decision to use human growth hormone, about his fractured friendship with Roger Clemens, and how he’d offered to walk away from his $16 million salary if the Yankees no longer wanted him.
He discussed faith and family, Bible passages that had sustained him, and, in the end, his tarnished legacy.
“Whatever repercussions come, I’ll take it like a man,” Pettitte said.
When he was done, he admitted to feeling a sense of relief and that he hoped he could begin the process of getting on with the rest of his life.
Consider yourself forgiven, Andy. Are you paying attention, Miguel Tejada? How about you, Roger Clemens? Want to think things through one more time?
Pettitte’s family and friends should be proud, because he couldn’t have handled things any better.
It’s also important to understand his state of mind. Pettitte had just signed a three-year, $31 million contract with the Astros when he blew out his elbow early in the 2004 season.
He couldn’t bring himself to admit his season was over and that he was going to be disappointing all those teammates and fans who were counting on him.
From the beginning of baseball’s steroid era, some of us have been waiting for one guy to come forward and explain why he did what he did. Here’s guessing Pettitte is about to learn how forgiving people can be.
Well, yeah, if he wins 15 games in pinstripes this season. Otherwise, forgiveness might not be on the menu. Don’t get me wrong, Pettitte seemed genuinely contrite yesterday, and unlike Eric Gagne, Paul Lo Duca or Jason Giambi, deserves credit for actually mentioning what he was apologizing for. But it’s a huge stretch to characterize the pitcher’s decision to use HGH as some kind of selfless act on the part of the-ultimate-team-player.
Surely Justice realizes coming back from an injury quickly and effectively not only enhances a player’s reputation, but is exactly the sort of thing that impacts future salaries. I’m not suggesting Pettitte needs to issue a refund to the Steinbrenner family — the Boss has profited quite nicely during the Steroid Era — but there’s a little more to this than merely wanting to make Uncle Drayton proud.
(sadly, I don’t think anyone at the Post photoshopped this)
With Keith Van Horn apparently willing to accept $4.3 million to do, well, absolutely nothing (not the first time he’s been overpaid, mind you), the Mavericks appear to be on the brink of acquiring Jason Kidd. The emotional Nets guard spoke with the New York Post’s Fred Kerber and proved to be a tad sentimental, if geographically challenged.
“The nicest thing is being given a fair shot going back to Dallas,” Kidd said. “I just want to give a team a chance to win … There’s no guarantees. You’ve got to be healthy and have the ball bounce your way … I look at myself as an easy fit. You don’t have to call my number. It’s just a matter of me getting the ball to them at the right time and doing the little things.
“Jersey is a great city. It doesn’t get its just [due]. The state itself. The golf is great. The fans were wonderful. I wish them the best of luck,” he said.
A planned monument honoring Hakeem Olajuwon is said to be “Muslim compliant” in that it will not feature a picture or likeness of the former Houston center. In a slightly related story, the rest of the Toyota Center will observe Common Sense Compliance by halting construction on a statue to honor Steve Novak.
“If we had the time and/or the resources,” writes Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, “we™d devote a chunk of it to finding out more about Matt Walsh.” And despite the above disclaimer, Florio asks a few questions so pertinent, even Brian McNamee thinks this Walsh guy is a little suspicious.
For starters, the contention that Walsh (above) secretly recorded conversations with Pats V.P. of player personnel Scott Pioli is great way to get a good feel for whether Walsh is a truth-teller. Walsh™s lawyer calls the rare public utterance from Pioli a œcomplete fabrication. So if the Pats and/or Pioli can prove that it happened, the failure of Walsh to tell the truth to his lawyer on that topic would be relevant in connection with an assessment of whether he™s telling the truth about what he might eventually tell Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) or anyone else.
Other easily available information to scrutinize is Walsh™s bio for his current job. In it, he says that he œserved primarily as an Area Scout and Video Assistant from 1996-2003 with the Patriots. But Pioli told the Boston Globe that Walsh was never an Area Scout. So if the Pats and/or Pioli can prove this, it would be another strike against him.
In fact, Walsh™s overall bio requires the full-blown Fran Foley treatment. Based on the article regarding his then-looming nuptials, he was 28 in July 2004 and is a Gemini. Thus, he™s presently 31. Unless he pulled a Doogie Howser (or a Forrest Gump), it™s hard to cram everything he claims to have done into the period of time that would require him to get a college degree, play two years of pro hockey, train with the U.S. National Bobsled team, spend a year working for an Arena League team, seven with the Pats, one with NFL Europe, and then become an assistant golf pro in Hawaii.
The article about his wedding describes his time with the Pats as including œoperations, public relations, video/game planning, area scout. Game planning? Um. Okay.
Even worse, the East’s silver back looked a lot like the West’s white front, so it often looked like a player was being guarded by a member of his own team. There were also some surreal moments when two players came together and a composite third player seemed to form in between them. Was this the proverbial sixth man?
Hardwood Paroxysm was on the scene in New Orleans this weekend, and let it be said that no one else in the mainstream media has published nearly as many candid photographs of Taylor Hicks.
Bernie Ecclestone was last night criticised for dismissing the recent racism aimed at Lewis Hamilton as a “one-off” and declaring that the decision by motor racing’s governing body to launch an anti-racism initiative, was unnecessary.
Ecclestone, formula one’s commercial rights holder, yesterday brushed aside the behaviour of a group of Spaniards who abused Hamilton during a testing session in Barcelona two weeks ago as nothing to worry about. “I don’t think they’re fans,” said Ecclestone. “I don’t think they’re anything. I think they like to abuse people. It was a one-off, nothing to worry about.”
But Weyman Bennett, of the campaign Unite Against Fascism, said: “I think these comments are totally unacceptable. There should be a clear message that bigotry and racism are not tolerated in formula one. I think the idea that when people are racist you ignore them is just not acceptable.”
The FIA last week revealed plans for their Racing against Racism initiative, which will be unveiled at the Spanish grand prix in April, although Ecclestone told the BBC: “I don’t think it’s necessary. All it does, like all these things, is give attention to the people who want attention.”
Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda will manage the Dodgers again.Lasorda, 80, will take over the split squad left behind in Florida when new manager Joe Torre takes another squad to China for a goodwill series in Beijing against the Padres on March 14-15.
A team official confirmed that Lasorda will manage eight exhibition games beginning with a March 11 game against Florida at Holman Stadium. Lasorda’s squad is expected to include regulars Jeff Kent, Rafael Furcal, Juan Pierre, Russell Martin, Matt Kemp, James Loney and all of the starting rotation.
I remain hopeful the Yankees will follow suit by asking Stump Merrill to manage, pitch and hit cleanup in some Grapefruit League games, if only to distract the assembled news media from reducing Andy Pettitte to tears.
(aftermath of a prior generation’s Congressional hearing on PED use in athletics)
Asked by SI.com’s Richard Dietsch “why has Deadspin gained cultural currency?”, the ever-humble Will Leitch replies, “I don’t think it is because of my brilliance. I think I was just fortunate enough to have gotten there first.” And while I’m busying penning Leitch a thank-you note for inventing the internet, blogging and blogging about sports, you might enjoy the following excerpts from Dietsch’s interview.
SI.com: Do you consider yourself a journalist?
Leitch:I consider what I do on Deadspin to be based in the foundations of journalism, yes, based on the foundations of journalism that I have been trained and that I certainly use when I write for GQ, The New York Times and so on. Certainly, I think the language can be a little looser on the web, but I am held to the same standards and accuracy everyone else is. If I am wrong, and if I am constantly throwing stuff up on the site that is wrong, trust me, people are more than happy to let me know how wrong I am. And if I do that consistently they will stop coming to the site. That is the key thing. If I have no credibility, people will stop coming to the site. People are not stupid. And, frankly, with the other places I write for, if I had a reputation for using very lax journalistic principles, I doubt some of these places would want me to work for them.
SI.com: Would you print a photo of a beheaded athlete?
Leitch: To be honest, it depends on the circumstances. I suppose if I found an athlete from 30 years ago, uh, gross, no. I think that would be a question SI.com would have as well. And there would be discretion where I would say, after the jump, if what you really want to do is look, here it is.
SI.com: If Sports Illustrated had photos of Will Leitch drunk, should we post that on SI.com?
Leitch: Well, I don’t know if that would sell that much on your site. But it would be hypocritical of me to be upset about that, and they are already on the Web anyway. It’s not hard to find. Certainly, I’m not sure you would find much success posting them, but you have every right to that.
Indeed, there’s not much cultural currency to be gained in running tipsy party snapshots of Will. Photos of him perpetuating ugly ethnic stereotypes, however, are pure traffic gold, as evidenced from CSTB’s nearly 3 figures in advertising revenue earned last month.
The Cavs just don’t have the goods to land a superstar running mate for LeBron right now. If Ferry (above) can be blamed for anything, it was pulling out of a summer blockbuster that would have brought Bibby to town along with Argentinean forward Luis Scola and some bad contracts. It probably wasn’t Ferry who was scared off by the price tag — salary-cap hell. That’d be owner Dan Gilbert’s call.
Cavs fans who don’t think LeBron’s supporting cast is up to snuff should know what Ferry is quietly counting on. At this time next year, there aren’t many teams who will have more to offer than the Cavs. The contracts of Eric Snow ($7.3 million), Gooden ($7.1 million), Donyell Marshall ($6 million), Jones ($4.5 million) and Cedric Simmons ($1.75 million). And if recent history has taught us anything, it’s that better than $20 million in expiring contracts, a couple first-round picks and a decent young player or two can buy a whole lotta superstar.
Who might be available next year? If Milwaukee is floundering, they’ll have to consider shopping Michael Redd. The first-team all-NBA chucker is stunting the growth of two talented young big men in Andrew Bogut and Yi Jianlian and, when he’s your best player, you’re in trouble anyway. Chicago is in store for a face lift and might give up one of their good young players (Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng or Ben Gordon) to a team willing to take on Ben Wallace’s bloated deal. And if Kidd is still in New Jersey next year, the Cavs will have the numbers to make that deal work and young players in Varejao and Gibson that might draw some interest. The possibilities are almost endless. Who would have guessed the quality of players on the move this year? Things fall apart quickly in the NBA. Next year, the Cavs will be first in line to take advantage.
We spoke with four fellows who are familiar with the new Mets radio man, 51-year-old Wayne Hagin, from his days working Cardinals and White Sox broadcasts. Their consensus:
Hagin has good pipes and he knows baseball, both its nuts and bolts and its history. He’s a solid but somewhat vanilla listen who mostly shuns the self-promotional junk. He’s not an overt homer. If the Mets were looking for a solid, unspectacular career pro, they hired one.
That written, when the Mets two seasons ago brought Ron Darling to the TV booth, friends in the D.C. area who had heard him work Nationals telecasts the previous season provided a consensus that Darling was dreadfully dull, disinclined to provide significant analysis or interesting storytelling. They were convinced that Darling’s hire by SNY was strictly for sentimental reasons.
White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen might as well hang a “no comment” sign around his neck for the duration of Spring Training ; he’s already given the Sun-Times’ Chris DeLuca an entire month’s worth of meaty sound bites in one sitting.
”I’ll be cocky,” Guillen said Saturday as Sox pitchers and catchers held their first workout. ”If we win this year, I might run naked down Michigan Avenue like people expect me to do.”
‘I don’t give a [expletive] what people think about me,” Guillen said. ”I win 200 games in two years, and nobody ever mentions that. Well, if you’re not going to give me credit when the team wins … that made me think, ‘Wow, what kind of life are we living?’ My team wins 200 games, I didn’t have a losing season, and they treat me that way.
”Then if you’re a nice guy, they are going to treat you the same way. [Expletive] it, be an asshole then. I would rather be an asshole winning than be a nice guy [expletive] losing. Give me an asshole who can win, don’t give me a nice guy who can [expletive] lose.”
‘I go to other cities and I have [reporters] coming over just to see what Stupid is going to say,” Guillen said. ”You don’t think I don’t know that? I know that. We go to someplace like Anaheim or Seattle or even in Chicago, they want to know what he is going to say. Hey, at least you’re there. If you want to know something about me, [expletive] ask me.
”If my [stuff] sells papers every day and we win, well, I want to be on the front page every day,” Guillen said. ”As long as I don’t rape anybody, as long a I pay my taxes, I don’t beat my wife … if I am going to be on the front page of the newspaper because of [expletive] baseball, I will take that.
Hey, wow, Liverpool lost to, uh, Barnsley. That sounds like an upset, I think. Don’t ask me, I’m a red-blooded blinkered American simian who don’t truck no foreigner sports. I’m sure the losers all groused and said things like “poxy” and called each “prats” and ate bad food with their jagged teeth.
The site’s all too typical dumbfuckery aside, roughly less than a quarter of Liverpool’s first team is British. I’ve got no way of knowing for sure, but it’s pretty doubtful Yossi Benayoun has called anyone a prat in his life.
“I apologize to my family, all of my fans and to the entire baseball community for mistakes in judgment I made in the past and for the distraction that has resulted,” said newly acquired Washington C Paul Lo Duca on Saturday. While Newsday’s Ken Davidoff considers said apology a page out of the “Giambi playbook” (“decline to identify your reason for apologizing”), the columnist oughta remember that Boogie Shoes might need the forgiveness of all sorts of people. Certainly the talent pool for Long Island’s Junior Proms was adversely affected by Lo Duca’s social life.
To Lo Duca’s credit, he took questions in what the Nationals billed as a “first and only” opportunity to ask him anything concerning the Mitchell Report. At Space Coast Stadium, with Nationals manager Manny Acta and general manager Jim Bowden in the room, he even offered some words that read sincere on paper.
“You do something wrong in your life, and you get away with it, you still have something inside you that burns,” Lo Duca said. “It’s been a big relief for me to know that I’ve come to grips with it. That I’ve made a mistake.”
Perhaps he was nervous, but Lo Duca didn’t speak this soliloquy with the same sort of passion that he addressed numerous Mets matters in 2006 and 2007. He had more of a “my agent told me I should say this” vibe going.
Remember, Lo Duca came off as one of Kirk Radomski’s star pupils, not only purchasing human growth hormone but also extending Radomski’s business to Dodgers teammates such as Kevin Brown and Eric Gagne. Mitchell further embarrassed Lo Duca by including two notes to Radom.ski, one featuring the memorable “my phone is toast!” refrain.
So it would’ve been nice for a more specific apology, and for the personable Lo Duca to hit the public-service announcement trail and explain the evils of illegal PED usage.
He didn’t seem to agree, saying, “We’ll see where we go from there. Wherever we go from there, we go from there.”
Asked for what he was apologizing, Lo Duca said, “Come on, bro. Next question.”
Bristol Rovers are as associated with œGoodnight, Irene, Leadbelly™s most famous recording, as any English club with any song. They™ve been singing it since the 1950s, a full decade before œYou™ll Never Walk Alone was heard at Anfield, 30 years before Manchester City fans began to chant œBlue Moon. But the path that led to the association was chancy and circuitous, and in many ways, both Rovers and Leadbelly are lucky that they survived long enough for the song and the club™s fans to find each other.
There are any number of legends to explain the supporters™ adoption of a plaintive and slightly mystical American folk melody as their anthem, a song whose lyrics don™t exactly advertise their suitability for the purpose:
Sometimes I live in the country,
Sometimes I live in town,
Sometimes I take a great notion,
Jumpin™ into the river and drown.
I love Irene, God knows I do,
Love her until the sea run dry,
And if Irene turns her back on me,
Gonna take morphine and die.
Possibly the most persuasive story is that Plymouth Argyle fans sang the song to taunt Rovers supporters after Argyle took the lead in a match. When Rovers went on to win 3-1, their fans turned the taunt around and began to sing œGoodnight, Argyle. And the song stuck. Something about it just fit.
I love thinking about the loose threads of beauty and meaning in this world and the way they sometimes come together in football. I love imagining Leadbelly playing in a smoky shack to an audience of hellhounds and moonshine runners while five thousand miles away a group of men with kestrel stares and pushbroom mustaches took the pitch in their high-waisted professional short pants. I love the way a game played by the children of lords and a suicide moan from the American folk tradition can make something bizarre and powerful today, something unifying, in a context that makes perfect sense to us, though it would baffle the people who invented them.
“Everybody thinks he’s on his way out,” said a rival GM who deals with the Knicks routinely. “I don’t get that impression at all.” This executive has the clear sense that Thomas remains empowered to make any deal he wishes and that his removal as president of the Knicks is not imminent. “I think that owner [James Dolan] is just digging his heels in.” If Thomas’ enemies want him out of New York, they ought to start a “Save Isiah” campaign. I’m not joking: The only way Dolan is going to replace his team president/coach is if he’s convinced the public wants him to stay.
‘River: The Joni Letters” represents Herbie’s expansion beyond the race- based straitjackets of nomenclature imposed on American musicians. American music has such a rich and varied foundation it is really grotesque to try to define it as R & B or rock or pop or metal or Latin or Reggae or country or blues. For example, the blues and country evolved in exactly the same environment– i.e. the Mississippi Delta, West Texas, Nashville, Tenn., and New Orleans, to name a few. But for some reason, the music of Elvis must be regarded as different from Chuck Berry even when both artists embrace the same regional and artistic roots.Maybe Herbie’s success will make a few a more people think about the absurdity of these genre designations. After all, it is the clash of America’s various cultural heritage that give us such a rich and varied musical landscape.
Herbie certainly inherited the mantle of Art Tatum and Bud Powell, but his world is so much bigger than that. My hope is that as Americans our ability to appreciate our enormous musical choices will continue to expand. Don’t forget, Satchmo, Johnny Cash, the Duke and Frank Sinatra are watching … and listening!
OK, that would make a lousy video game, too. But considering EA used the not-quite-Hall Of Fame caliber Adam Morrison to flog their hoops title a couple of years ago, the WNBA has absolutely nothing to apologize for. (video link taken from basketbawful)