Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

An Overhyped Bore: Five Reasons Why Superbowl Sunday Sucks

Filed under: sport,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00
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On Sunday, the 53rd Superbowl takes place with the New England Patriots taking on the Los Angeles Rams. Sputnik’s Chris Summers explains why he believes it is one of the most over-rated sports events in the world.


So, the Boston-based Patriots go head to head with the Rams on Sunday, 3 February. Big deal. Superbowl Sunday is just a bore, am I right? So, let me list my problems with it.

  1. The Sport Itself

The most popular sport in the entire world… with the possible exception of India… is football. Not American football but Association Football (to give it its technical name), or, as the Yanks call it, soccer. That’s because it’s a much more exciting game, with far more variety and skill. Basically, gridiron (as it’s sometimes called) is the same free kick performed over and over. Tedious beyond belief. Not surprising then that American football, as played in the National Football League (NFL), is popular in how many countries? Er, one. Possibly two, if you count Canada, although they’re far more interested in ice hockey. Walter Camp, a Yale graduate considered the “Father of American Football”, adopted the game from the rules of rugby, which is also a far superior game. More on that later.

  1. The Players

In every Hollywood movie set in a high school, the girls swoon over the football players, the “jocks” who swagger around the high school with a surplus of testosterone and an absence of brainpower. The adoration of football players in the USA continues through “college”… where extremely dumb people can get a university education by virtue of their sporting prowess. So what attributes do you need to succeed in the sport? Good fitness levels, an ability to withstand frequent headaches, and (only if you are running back) some athletic ability and speed. For that, they get paid astronomical sums. The Patriots’ star player, Tom Brady, was given a contract extension in March 2018, which included a 28 million USD signing bonus. He’s currently worth 44 million USD and he earns millions from endorsements with Under Armour and UGG boots. How many games do they play? Sixteen. There are 16 games in a regular NFL season. That compares to around 38 games in an English Premier League season and 162 for Major League Baseball players.

  1. The Stupid Outfits

NFL players have been wearing the same stupid garb since the 1930s… giant helmets and shoulder pads. Why? The game’s no more dangerous than rugby union, rugby league, Aussie rules football, or Gaelic football and none of those guys wear battlefield outfits. So basically, yeah, I’m saying NFL players are pussies who wouldn’t last five minutes in a man’s game like rugby.

  1. The Fans

Unlike football (soccer) fans, NFL fans very rarely travel to away games. Therefore, the crowd will be 100 percent home fans, which leads to an extraordinary lack of tension or atmosphere. The Superbowl is the exception because they play it in a neutral venue (in this case, Atlanta) and both sets of fans will be there. Even then, they just sit and watch, literally spectate. There’s no singing or chanting, let alone animosity. Compare that to the FA Cup Final or one of the big derbies in world footballRiver Plate versus Boca Juniors, Rangers against Celtic, Fenerbahce v Galatasaray, or Olympiakos v Panathinaikos. Chalk and cheese.

  1. The Superbowl Hype

From Christmas until the date of the Superbowl, the US media will be full of nothing but this pointless little game. I guess we can be grateful they don’t give it a name like the World Series, and pretend the whole of the globe are genuinely interested in it. However, the NFL is determined to expand overseas. They’re already playing games in London and broadcasting to other countries. We aren’t interested. Go away. Then, there’s the advertising. Basically, the Superbowl is just one giant excuse to sell advertising. Every year, billions of dollars is spent on Superbowl-related advertising. This year, fans of the cult movie The Big Lebowski got excited when Jeff Bridges, as The Dude, appeared in a teaser. However, a few days later, it turned out there was no Big Lebowski sequel, only an ad for Stella Artois beer.

3 February 2019

Chris Summers

Sputnik International



Saturday, 26 May 2018

NFL Owners Never Voted on the New National Anthem Policy. Wait… What?


On Wednesday, the National Football League (NFL) announced a new policy regarding player protests during the national anthem… stay in the locker room, stand, or face a fine. Now, it looks like the owners never officially voted for the policy after all. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said during the NFL’s announcement:

Clearly, our objective as a league and to all 32 clubs, which was unanimous, is that we want people to be respectful of the national anthem.

Both President Donald Trump and Vice President Pence applauded the move by the NFL. However, sources reported the owners never held a formal vote, so, who approved it unanimously? According to a report by ESPN’s Seth Wickersham, during two days of meetings on league matters in Atlanta:

The NFL just did a little informal polling and thought everyone would be cool with it.

Sources said league executives polled owners and knew how they’d vote but didn’t hold an official tally, which is atypical for a major resolution. The new policy leaves it to teams to discipline their own players for acts deemed disrespectful during the anthem. However, it also gave the league wide powers to fine teams as well. The NFL Players Association already made a public statement that the league never consulted them on the new anthem policy, also atypical of major changes affecting players. Moreover, not all team owners are singing the new anthem policy’s praises either. Three team owners distanced themselves from this policy as well. San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York announced he abstained from any decision about the policy. Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis also claims to have abstained. Their abstentions contradict Goodell’s claim of a unanimous vote by all 32 owners.

Meanwhile, New York Jets chairman Chris Johnson vowed to pay any fines for his players who demonstrate during the national anthem:

I don’t like imposing any club-specific rules. If somebody [on the Jets] takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organisation, by me, not the players. I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players. Do I prefer that they stand? Of course. However, I understand if they felt the need to protest. There are some big complicated issues that we’re all struggling with, and our players are on the front lines. I don’t want to come down on them like a ton of bricks, and I won’t. There’ll be no club fines or suspensions or any sort of repercussions. If the team gets fined, that’s just something I’ll have to bear.



Johnson’s announcement drew some criticism, but his Twitter post also drew praise. The new anthem policy is catching a lot of flak on social media. Many accused the NFL in general or Roger Goodell in particular of simply pandering to the President and Vice President on the issue, without regard for the players or fans. People also questioned the NFL’s priorities. Whether the new policy stands or not remains to be seen.

24 May 2018

Amelia Mavis Christnot

Second Nexus


26 May 2018. Taking A Knee… It Seemed That the NFL Lied About Their New Rule


It seems that the NFL announced that it was banning taking the knee at the National Anthem because all the teams were behind it… well, that’s a lie. Some ignorant rightwing Republican turd obviously ran it up without really consulting the teams or the players. It looks like Trump’s Reverse Midas Effect is in operation, yet again. Instead of slapping down the uppity niggers and white trash, it’s having the opposite effect. Several teams have already come out against the new rule and the action riled the players association to the max. Trump is increasingly seen to be out of control and flailing about, with no clue on how to move forward. This is dangerous. The man is a wilfully ignorant narcissistic man-child with no inhibitions. He has control of the “nuclear football”… if that doesn’t scare you, nothing will.

The intent behind this was to coerce the players into forced “patriotism”, to show all comers how powerful and strong Trump was. It’s having the opposite effect. Trump’s stupidity and bullying temperament are on display for the whole world to see. However, don’t expect the media to show that… they’re in the pocket of their corporate paymasters. That’s why I don’t believe anything that I read in the media on domestic American politics. Trust me, the people aren’t happy… the Republicans are facing disaster this November (don’t believe the “polls”… the media has to follow what their Big Money bosses tell them to do). After all, Paul Ryan “retired” at the ripe old age of 48… what does he know that the media won’t tell us?


Friday, 6 January 2012

Tim Tebow God-Talk Could Be Elevated by Troy Polamalu


If Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu gets to tackle the Bronco’s QB in the first round of the playoffs, he won’t “Tebow”, but he might cross himself. If he does so, he’ll go right-to-left like other Eastern Orthodox Christians. Next to Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy’s the second largest official Christian Church in the world, but for many people in North America, it’s shrouded in mystery. How interesting, then, that an icon for Head and Shoulders, who believes in honouring pictures of Jesus and the religious saints his tradition calls icons, will face off against a QB who is an icon for jockey underwear, sports drinks and an evangelical faith that normally rejects veneration of religious icons, such as statues or images.

If this sounds confusing and convoluted but you still want to read on, then, you’ve joined others in an encouraging display of thoughtfulness… I’ve received plenty of reader feedback that would indicate there are a number of people who like a splash of nuance in their drinks by the religion-and-sports water cooler. Sadly, though, others just want to spit their uninformed thoughts all over the place. Tim Tebow has provoked plenty of discussion about religion and sports this year, but some of it, to be frank, is facile drivel. Some writers just use the discussion as a springboard for an anti-religious screed. On the opposite end, other people seem to think criticism of Tebow’s throwing arm is an attack on the faith. Even if they dress their tantrums up with rhetorical flare, the underlying sentiment of such polarised arguments sounds like baby babble… “Wahhhh, religion sucks!” Or, conversely, “Wahhhh, why are you always persecuting me?!”

To these simple cries, I’d say the interplay between religion and sports is complicated. I certainly don’t have it figured out, but perhaps there are times when we can shut the hell up for heaven’s sake, and look for opportunities to grow in knowledge so that we can increase in understanding and love of our neighbours. So, in classical Trinitarian fashion (both Eastern Orthodox Christians and Evangelicals believe in a divine Trinity of three persons in one substance, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), here are three considerations of Troy Polamalu’s mix of religion and sports that could elevate the discussion beyond the ”I-say”… “God-says” impasse.

People sick of the collusion of religion and football would prefer that athletes “get a room” to pray. A lot of people are disgusted by a public display of divine human intimacy; it gets in the way of them watching muscular men embrace in tight combative struggle. Religion, though, doesn’t just exist in the private realm of ideas. Ritual practises in any religion call people to worship the divine with more than just lip service. Polamalu will sometimes cross himself on the field. Roman Catholics cross themselves from left to right, but Eastern Orthodox Christians do it in the other direction. In either case, this act can be a wordless prayer for help, thanks, focus, or any other reverent thought on a safety’s mind.

You may also see him mouth a classical prayer on the field called the “Jesus prayer”, which is anything but boastful. It’s simple and humble, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner”. Eastern Orthodox Christians are enjoined to use this prayer as a means of “praying without ceasing”, an admonition that comes from the Apostle Paul in the New Testament portion of the Christian Bible. Tebow, for his part, has famously taken a prayerful knee after touchdowns, during field-goal kicks (for both the opponents and Bronco Matt Prater’s) and after losses, which tell us that he believes that his divine football mission transcends any trivial calculation of wins and losses. He, like Polamalu, sometimes worships without words.



The above video is part of a project from the Orthodox Church to address the myriad stresses that grinding poverty brings to so many Americans. People who recruit charitable donors through this campaign can get signed posters from Polamalu, and even signed jerseys. By the way, Polamalu came in third for top-selling NFL jerseys of 2011, right behind some guy for the Broncos. The logic of this mix of religion, sports, and charity is that God isn’t just in heaven thinking deep thoughts, but working through compassionate people who serve the poor in this life.

Some people can’t get over how ridiculous the idea is that, if there is a God, God might get involved in sports. “Oh yeah, like God has time to get into football when there are all kinds of sick kids dying from cancer!” To such seemingly unassailable logic, you might respond, “Dude, do you know what Tebow does before and after the games?” If your interlocutor says, “Yes, he’s endlessly visiting sick kids with cancer”, then you can take that person off the boneheaded list, and you can also point them to Polamalu’s efforts on behalf of the poor and sick. That’s not to say, of course, that there’s a God who looks down from heaven every time someone gets in the red zone, but if we grant the possibility that there’s some kind of caring celestial being, it isn’t unreasonable to assume this God would use prominent football players for higher purposes than success on the field. In other words, arguing that football is trivial doesn’t preclude divine tasks for its players.

If you get into a discussion about religion and sports in which a friend starts bringing up all the millions of dollars these football players make on endorsements, and the fact that all their hocking of underwear (Tebow) and shampoo (Polamalu) makes their religious devotion sound like they’re selling Jesus as well, I’d recommend putting your fist to your chin in that classical proto-Tebow pose, “The Thinker”. Because when it comes right down to it, the sometimes messy mix of religion and sports gets downright grimy when you throw it into the economic marketplace. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be there, necessarily, but it certainly means that those of us who want to do more than play a game of “nah nah nah nah-nah” when discussing religion and sports have a whole lot more to think and talk about.

5 January 2012

Sean S O’Neill

Bleacher Report


Editor’s Note:

For something from a non-Orthodox sportswriter… this is good, a 3.5 out of 4.0, actually. He gets a detail or two wrong… but he’s no historian, theologian, or religious scholar. He’s an ordinary guy looking at what he sees and hearing what he hears. He got the “Jesus Prayer” slightly wrong… but the loudmouthed semi-converts have so muddied the waters that I want to give Sean the benefit of the doubt. He’s not aware of the Imiaslavie and their heresy (or of the Blunder’s snarky approval of it)… give him a break.

Good on you, Sean… will you let my Nicky pour you a shot of Bushmills? It’s the Russian Orthodox Christmas season after all.


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