Wednesday, May 30, 2007

IT'S CALLED HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE FOR A REASON

FIFA has proposed a ban on playing international soccer matches at altitudes higher than 2,500m, a proposal that is dividing South American nations along lines of high and low altitude venues.

Fifa says there are fears that the high altitude can harm players' health and possibly distort competition.
...
Bolivian President Evo Morales has called a meeting of officials from Latin American countries that play their home games at altitude.
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All the affected nations deny they have used high-altitude grounds to gain a competitive advantage.
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Peruvian and Bolivian soccer officials laid the blame for the decision on Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. The team doctor of the Peruvian national team, Javier Arce, said matches should also be banned at hot and humid venues in lower-lying countries.
[BBC]
The claim that certain countries do not use venues at high altitudes to give them an advantage is obviously false - but so what? That's one of the factors of home field advantage in international soccer, and it's one of the reasons World Cup qualifying matches are played on a home-and-away basis.

It is no coincidence to me that it is Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay spearheading this movement against Bolivia, Ecuador and others. The former three are, of course, the only three South American nations to have won the World Cup. This decision smacks of standard FIFA politics in which the heavyweights of international football use their clout to dominate the middle weights before they even step on the field.

The Peruvian counter-claim that an equivalent ban should be placed against playing at humid lower-lying venues can be followed to its logical conclusion.

Eventually international matches would only be allowed in temperate climates, at temperatures between 15-25 degrees, with humidity between 45%-60%, winds of no more than 15km/h, unless of course they're from the North and then no more than 5km/h, with a stable barometric pressure, not within an hour of high or low tide if played within 100km of the ocean, and home team supporters will not be allowed to produce noise above a 100 decibels and shall be limited to a maximum of three songs per half.

Every soccer stadium has its own unique advantages for the home team; it's part of sport. FIFA, yet again, is choosing politics over the good of the game.

Posted by Matthew @ 3:20 PM :: (0) comments

Saturday, May 26, 2007

PM TRENDING DOWN?

For the past several weeks one of the links in the Google sponsored adds in the side bar has been to an Angus-Reid on-line opinion poll.

There are several different poll questions in the cycle but one of the recurring one's is, "Will you vote for Stephen Harper in the next election - Yes or No." Now, I am dubious about the ability of such a poll to provide an accurate snapshot of support for the PM at any specific time, however, I think the poll may be useful in assessing trends of support for the PM.

Seven or eight weeks ago, when I first noticed the poll question, the prime minister's numbers were running at roughly 70%-30% in his favour. Since then the numbers have moved noticeably and today they stand at only 59%-41% in favour of the PM.

As I said, the PM's support may or may not be at 59% nationally; for one thing the wording of the question is rather vague. However, as an assessment of the relative support for the prime minister over a period of time the poll may be more accurate.

For the record, when I occasionally vote in the poll I always vote 'no'. For me the answer is easy as I don't live in Stephen Harper's riding and therefor cannot vote him. I am after all a firm proponent of the first-past-the-post electoral system and believe citizens should elect individuals to represent them not parties. I therefor interpret the question very strictly.

Posted by Matthew @ 12:35 PM :: (0) comments

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Beyond Good and Evil... Simply Hilarious

The Recipe:

1. Take one part Neitzscheian aphorism
2. Take one part Family Circus comic drawing
3. Combine at random

Permalinks for some of the better combinations I generated:
Interpretation and power.
The abyss.
The Nietzsche kids on marriage.
Sibling rivalry.
And of course...
Billy declares God dead.

[Link via The Flea.]

Posted by Matthew @ 4:21 PM :: (1) comments

Monday, May 14, 2007

"ACCIDENTS HAPPEN"

The attitude of Manuel and Cecilia Castillio, whose son Manny was killed in a Toronto high school rugby game last week, is remarkable.

The parents of the high school rugby player fatally injured in a game last week remain adamant that charges be dropped against the offending player.
"(The opposing player) didn't take a weapon and try to fire at my son," the father said.
"He didn't take a gun or a knife and try to kill him, absolutely not. To me, it is a terrible accident. In sports, accidents happen."
The position of the Castillo's runs counter to today's regretably prevalent attitudes with regards to the danger children face in daily activities and play.

In recent years we have heard of parents making neighbourood children sign wavers before coming over to use backyard pools and trampolines. At my elementary school the play structure was dismantled and baseball bats and skipping ropes were banned on the grounds of safety concerns. This winter our paternal legislators considered making it illegal for children to toboggan without a helmet. And it is not uncommon to hear of parents suing other parents, or teachers, or school boards over far more benign circumstances than those that the Castillo's have recently suffered.

Children cannot be protected from every danger, no matter how hard their parents might try. Indeed, coddling children into a false sense of security is only going to raise a generation unprepared for the risk, danger, and harm that will always be a part of life.

Of course when tragic events occurr it is natural to want to blame someone, to hold someone accountable, and few would question the Castillo's if they were looking for someone to punish. But sometimes, despite our best efforts, accidents happen.

The attitude of the Castillo's in the face of their son's death is remarkable and commendable, and stands as an example to other parents and legislators who would go too far in trying to protect children and too far in laying blame when that protection innevitably fails.

Posted by Matthew @ 10:32 AM :: (0) comments