sic's profile

sic
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Member since: October 03, 2004
Last visit: January 15, 2010

sic has posted 7 links and 230 comments to SportsFilter and 0 links and 0 comments to the Locker Room.

Sports Bio

FC Barcelona

Chicago White Sox

Phoenix Suns

Chicago Bulls

Chicago Bears

Rafa Nadal

Recent Links

The Doping Dilemma: Scientific American contributer, and Skeptics Society Founder, Michael Shermer uses Game Theory to explain why doping has become rampant in cycling and other sports. He also uses the theory to outline some actions that can be taken to remedy the problem.

posted by sic to culture at 01:42 PM on July 14 - 15 comments

A former cyclist come clean: (NY Times link) Two of Lance Armstrong's former teammates come clean.

posted by sic to other at 09:30 AM on September 13 - 29 comments

US OPEN men's seed report.: Federer eyes three-peat; draw gods unkind to Agassi

posted by sic to tennis at 02:17 PM on August 24 - 1 comment

Paradiso to Inferno: A long two-part explanation of the Moggi-Juventus scandal in Italy.

posted by sic to soccer at 11:22 AM on July 30 - 7 comments

Federer vs. Nadal again!: In case you forgot with all the World Cup excitement, there's this little tennis tournament going on called Wimbledon. Federer is playing "flawless" tennis and Nadal surprised everyone by making it to the final in just his 5th professional tournament on grass playing his usual high-energy, take no prisoners game. Theoretically, Federer should dominate on grass, but some question his, ahem, resolve .

posted by sic to tennis at 04:06 PM on July 07 - 17 comments

Recent Comments

Soccer theatrics debunked

"The most flamboyant of the dramatics Dr. Morris describes is called the "archer's bow," in which the aggrieved player throws both arms in the air, with open palms, chest thrust out and legs bent at the knee. He wants to look like he's been fouled. Among other giveaway gestures: clutching the body where a player has not been hit; taking an extra roll when he or she hits the ground; taking fully controlled strides after being tackled before an ostentatious fall."

Wow, what penetrating insight into this mysterious practice of "diving". I never realized that when a player clutched a part of the body where he had not been hit he was in fact "diving". This study should be published in Nature.

posted by sic at 02:45 PM on September 20

Photos from the Wimbledon men's final, 2008

Nice photos, the commentary was laughably bad though:

"As the impending dark clouds roll over SW19 like some foreboding Shakespearian play, these two central characters are locked in a battle which leaves the audience spell-bound."

"The clock shows, 8.55pm an almighty 4 hours and 27 minutes of this Shakespearian drama of Dickensian lengths."

lol It's amusing/embarrassing when sportswriters try to wax poetic.

posted by sic at 07:02 PM on January 07

When is enough "enough"?

The IOC doesn't suspend athletes for circumstantial evidence on doping, they suspend them when they fail drug tests.

I have no idea if there is any substance to these allegations, but whatever their age, they won right? Unless you subscribe to the international conspiracy theory, as grum pointed out, these gymnasts won fair and square. They were the best gymnasts at the Olympics. Making a big deal about their age seems like, no actually it reeks of, sour grapes.

Athletes should win gold medals, not lawyers.

posted by sic at 04:28 PM on August 23

Spanish Racism Toward China?

There is racism in Spain, no doubt, and there is racism in the US, GB and everywhere else, no? There are skinheads all over Europe, but also in the United States. Isn't it unfair to judge an entire country by the actions of 4 assholes in black face calling Hamilton a "whore" (I just looked this incident up on Google) or by the actions of the Minute Men in Texas "guarding" the US border with Mexico. There are so many examples everywhere that it is depressing.

But the issue here is whether or not this particular gesture was intended to be racist, mocking, insulting etc. It was not, the reasons I feel this way are explained in my earlier post. Epicanthic folds are just not seen as an insult in Spain (or China) as they are in the US. What I meant in my earlier comment is that racial sensitivity degenerates into mere political correctness when blanket prohibitions are foisted upon people as opposed to trying to come to a real understanding of intent.

I hope this is received in the positive spirit in which it is offered, but perhaps the US media should focus on why some Asians in the US are made to feel ashamed of their epicanthic folds, or, to answer your question more directly, why Americans in general (not just Asian Americans) are offended by a gesture that is mostly seen as inoffensive outside of the Anglo world.

Anyway, the Spanish players were sorry to have offended, I just hope that Americans come to understand that they didn't mean to hurt anyone's feelings.

posted by sic at 12:27 PM on August 18

Spanish Racism Toward China?

Not sure if I understood that last comment.

A perceived insult is not the same as a real insult. A real insult is intended, a perceived insult is a mistaken interpretation. In this case, I understand why Asians living in the Anglo world could misinterpret the gesture as an insult as they have probably had to put up with all kinds of racism in the countries where they live, including being mocked for looking "different". However, I'm hoping that by explaining the very different context in which this occurred, maybe those Asians who are offended will see that it was not meant to be mocking or insulting and that the Spanish don't think that epicanthic folds are in any way shameful. The Chinese (in China) don't either, apparently.

Anyway, that's the best I can do in explaining it.

ps) this new site layout is really hard to read.

posted by sic at 10:18 AM on August 17

Spanish Racism Toward China?

Spaniard here. This was not meant to be an offensive gesture - there was no malice in the intent. In Spain, there is no large Asian population and so there are no racial tensions at work here, no Asian children mocked in elementary school with this gesture as occurs in the US. This why the team and most of Spain is surprised that this has bothered people in the Anglo world.

An interesting aspect of this controversy it that the photographers contracted by the team sponsor insisted that the players do the gesture (some of the players felt silly doing it), but as the team sponsor who was putting up the money for their campaign, they complied. Who was that team sponsor? A Chinese company.

The Chinese ambassador in Spain and other Chinese officials have communicated that the Chinese took it the way it was offered, as a friendly wink toward the host nation. And if you think about it why *would* the Chinese be offended by this gesture? Do you think they are embarrassed by the epicanthic folds of their eyes? Or do you think they should be?

Personally, I don't think the gesture is brilliant, but it is far from racist. However, I understand that in intensely multicultural nations like the US and GB there is a hyper-sensitivity to offending different races. For instance, there is a lot of negative history between the US and Asians from the exploited Chinese rail workers to the Japanese Internment camps during WWII to childhood taunts that create a context in which this would be a cruel gesture. However, this hyper-sensitivity often degenerates into mere political correctness. In this case, the Anglo world has to understand that there is no history of racial tension with Asians in most other countries. If you can accept this, it's easier to see why people in Spain simply cannot comprehend why this gesture would be considered racist.

Finally, it's ironic that the American Media sees itself as the arbiter of morality in other countries. Glass houses and all that. *cough* Iraq *cough* Mexican immigration *cough*

posted by sic at 04:50 AM on August 17

I was robbed:

First of all, I have seen no definitive "proof" that the ball actually hit Fernando's racket. It's not like the ball suddenly careened off in a different direction. Second, it was a 15-0 point, not at all decisive, and by making a big deal out of it Blake took himself out of the match. He was broken the next game and that was all she wrote. In my opinion, it was poorly played to make such a big deal about it after the match even if he was convinced that he was right. Blake is a great player and he seems to be a good guy, but the difference between champions and great players was on stark display in this match. Champions win, runners up find ways to lose.

posted by sic at 04:29 AM on August 17

NBA source says Ron Artest to be traded to Rockets

Hmmm, the whole, "I don't feel like playing basketball for a few months during the regular season while I be a Rap producer" stunt that he pulled on the Pacers was quite disdainful.

posted by sic at 12:31 PM on July 30

The Doping Dilemma

Ha! So let's draw the line at gatorade then! ;-) But seriously, electrolytes can only be considered a drug in the very broadest sense of the word (check out the wikis for "drug", "electrolyte" and "chemical substance"). Still your point has been well made, at least I understand what you have been trying to get at in your posts. But I think it comes down to what you want professional sports to be. If it is purely entertainment, spectacle, then I guess it makes sense to let consenting adults knowingly do what they want to their bodies to earn money (a dangerous proposition, as cynical exploitation is already common in sports like cycling and especially boxing). However, in my case, I want sports to serve a nobler purpose as well; you know, old fashion stuff like setting an example for youngsters of certain values that we want to promote in our societies, and that's why I just can't get behind dangerous PEDs (notice the adjective, the first time I have used it). The obvious short term and potential long term health risks just turn me off. Have you seen the size of Barry Bonds' head? I wouldn't want a child of mine to be seduced by money and fame into deforming their body and cutting their life short. But hey, that's just me!

posted by sic at 02:18 AM on July 17

The Doping Dilemma

The law is rife with arbitrary lines in the sand. If you are going to legislate the use of drugs in sports you have to put that line somewhere, because as you rightly point out there are tolerable exceptions (such cortisone shots, anti-inflammatory medication etc.). The problem with allowing say r-EPO to be legal and thus safer (somewhat debatable) would create a situation where r-EPO would then become the baseline, that is, all cyclists would have to be using it just to stay in the peloton; at the same time the superstars, the Lance Armstrong's that have to carry teams would then be obliged to take greater risks by using more radical techniques to keep ahead of the pack. That's the danger. Maybe it's great that baseball pitchers can prolong their careers by using drugs, but perhaps those drugs are going to have serious long-term health consequences. Should that be a factor in this debate? Anyhow, judging from the conversation, Shermer's game theory proposition hasn't impressed, and that's what I really wanted to talk about.

posted by sic at 06:30 PM on July 16

The Doping Dilemma

Hal, I admit your argument is clever, but it doesn't convince. Although the line may be blurry, there is a difference between taking a drug to help heal an injury and quite another to take drugs purely as a way to enhance performance. Yes, I understand the semantic argument that in both cases performance is "enhanced". But it would be disingenuous to say that there is no difference between one scenario and the other. You blithely say that nowadays it's "safe", but as you know all athletes, dopers or not, push the envelope as to what their bodies will withstand - so if everyone were taking r-EPO, new, more powerful and riskier techniques would be employed to achieve an "edge". We would have a doping arms race on our hands. Therefore, as I stated earlier, if we were to simply make everything legal, the sporting world would be taken over by chemists and their performance enhancing cocktails. That would become the only story, or at least the primary story to all professional sports. I also think it would be impossible to monitor what the doctors were putting in the athletes as these would be closely guarded secrets (like the recipe to Coca Cola, these performance enhancing cocktails would become intellectual property of say US Postal) and once doping is made legal very little effort (even less than today) would be made in improving testing methods. Is this really what we want professional sports to become?

posted by sic at 12:33 PM on July 16

The Doping Dilemma

Hal, I respectfully disagree with your solution. On the one hand, encouraging drug use is not only dangerous to the elite athletes and the validity of sports but it would also have an even greater trickle down effect on amateur sports, those that try to emulate the elite athletes without the aid of "doctors" - including children. Surely that's not a good thing? On the other hand, I don't think that the stigma of taking dope would be wiped away just because the penalty is lower; in other words, the illusion that somebody is a great natural athlete, who achieves greatness through natural ability and hard work is what makes them popular, so if a player is doping there are reasons beyond legal penalties for them to keep it hidden. For instance, if Lance Armstrong would have admitted he had been doping, he never would have had huge sponsorship deals and his consecutive Tour streak would have been unimpressive because people would have assumed (correctly) that it was the dope that won it for him. In your dystopia (and to me that's what it is) it would be the dope pushers, the "doctors", who would be the real stars, because they would be competing with one another to concoct the most effective drug cocktails to push the athletes over the edge. But really they wouldn't be stars because, at least in a sport like cycling, no one would care anymore if the drugs became the most important aspect. The winner of the tour this year is r-EPO! Who could get excited by something like that? Cycling fans? Corporate Sponsors? Would little kids dream of being the next vehicle for a break through drug in Tour De France 2020? One part of the solution that Shermer came up with (and in reality all of the things he mentions would have to be implemented in conjunction, so you have to look at all of them not just one or two) is that to break the "code of silence" the teams and all teammates should be punished along with the cyclist who is caught. This would reverse the pressure to be silent on (and take) drugs as everybody's career would be in jeopardy. This would create a "reverse cascade" of drug rejection and the speed of the peloton would slow down and in his words their would be a collective "woosh" of relief as the cyclists no longer felt forced to dope to be competitive. I think he is on the right track.

posted by sic at 02:10 AM on July 15

The Doping Dilemma

And don't forget to check out the further reading: Gaming Baseball: Why Players Dope

posted by sic at 01:56 PM on July 14

Nadal-Federer epic the most thrilling of all the Wimbledon finals

Too bad I'm late to this post (which itself was inexplicably not posted on Sunday night!). Thoughts on the match: Perhaps the best match ever in terms of overall drama and quality of tennis. Not only the rain delays, the comeback, the two tie breaks, Nadal's possible injury, the extra games in the 5th set, the dying light, but also the fact that history would be made no matter who won the match. Now that's drama. The tennis was intense as well, with Nadal dominating Roger early and possibly winning in straight sets if not for the lucky rain delay. Nadal probably should have closed out in the 4th set tie break, but he blinked, giving up a double fault then he was serving for the match. His ability to shake off that moment, which would have devastated most players, was the difference in the 5th set. In the end Roger was physically and mentally tired while Nadal continued to be rock solid. The better man won the match. As far as comments being made here, a couple of observations. Nadal is a huge problem for Roger because he is a terrible match up. Nadal has exposed Roger's backhand as a major weakness. His brutal topspin forehand just destroys Roger's one-handed backhand (although Federer stubbornly refused to run around his forehand the first two sets and you see where that got him). There is no debate on this, we've seen it now every time they've played over the past two years. People often can't believe how many time Roger shanks the ball when he plays Rafa; "Roger played terribly, that's why Rafa won" is what I often hear. But the truth is that those shanks are caused by the fact that he can't handle Rafa's heavy topspin forehand. He just can't. Nadal came very close to pulling off the double last year and this year it seemed inevitable. Nadal also seems dialed into Roger's serve and he doesn't wilt when Roger hits amazing winners, as most players do when facing the number one. On the other hand, Rafa's iron will scares Roger, that much is obvious, although Federer showed alot of heart coming back on Sunday. My hat's off to him. Roger is not done, he's still one of the top three players on the tour, but depending on the day and the surface he can be as low as three or as high as 1, same with Nadal and to a lesser degree Djokovic, the third player in the mix. The key thing is that Roger no longer has an aura of invincibility, in fact, it seems that it is Nadal who increasingly has opponents beat before they step on the court. Head to head Nadal has totally undermined Federer's confidence. I look forward to the hard court season to see whether this is permanent or temporary. At age 26 Roger has probably peaked, I find it difficult to believe that he will have the will to "improve" his game as many have talked about. On the other hand Nadal has been improving every year since 2005 when he came into his own on the professional tour at the age of 19! He has untold depths of humility that makes him always believe that he needs to improve Scary. Calling Nadal's serve "nothing special" as someone did upthread is really mistaken. The casual tennis fan probably thinks that pace is the only measurement of serving. So if that's the criteria you're working from then I can understand why Rafa's serve would seem ordinary compared to Roddick's. But ask yourself why Federer can break Roddick's 150 MPH serve so easily and he has a very difficult time breaking Nadal's. It's because good serving, like good pitching, is not just about hitting/throwing the ball as hard as you can. You have to mix up your serves, use strategy, placement, spins, consistency, all of those factors make Rafa a superior server despite having a top speed of "only" 130 MPH. You also have to know how to finish points on your serve once the ball is in play. That's why Roddick will never win another slam, he's too predictable and one-dimensional. Right now Nadal is playing the best tennis in the world, everybody's waiting to see if his astonishing improvement on grass will lead to more hard court titles. But people forget that although he had a disappointing USO series last year due to injuries, he still had the third best overall results between July 07 and May 08, only Djokovic and Federer were better. I can't wait for Cincinnati, Montreal and Flushing Meadows, I think that Rafa is finally going to put his critics to rest once and for all!

posted by sic at 09:42 AM on July 12

Using pawns, brawn to nab chess-boxing crown

This is about the stupidest thing I've ever heard of.

posted by sic at 09:12 AM on July 12