Cristiano Ronaldo, LA Clippers, and Jamal Khashoggi

Cristiano Ronaldo has been accused of sexual assault, and while I do not like speculation do me a favor and indulge in my speculation for a little bit. This will once again be a case of he said she said, however if he is guilty it would not surprise me in the slightest.

He mentioned in the press conference that he “had everything,” and in a sense he does. This attitude could lead him to do exactly what he is being accused of, as he could feel that something that is not is he needs to take. While there is no doubt he faced a hard road to become one of the greats, now he is an incredible athlete who has been and is continually told that he is incredible. He is an incredible looking male, who is one of the greatest athletes ever. After a while, when people tell you that everything is yours, you start to believe it, for good or for ill. To me, he probably felt as though this is a woman he could take, because he was Cristiano Ronaldo. Again, innocence until proven guilty is crucial, and so at this time it is hard to say. However, it would not shock me if this is true.

In lighter news the LA Clippers are 2-2, which is a decent start for a very decent team. While many of you may be wondering whether or not Clippers fans even exist, I can tell you with confidence they do and I am a part of a small minority. My beloved Clippers traded away most of their best players, for assets. This team is full of assets, and it is going to be fascinating to see how not only they will perform but if they can attract a legitimate superstar.

The ceiling in my eyes for the Clippers is a 6th or 7th seed in the playoffs. Will they actually win anything? Probably not, but the team is still an exciting prospect nonetheless. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander looks to be a sensational rookie, with length, handles, and defense to match. I am hopeful for my Clippers but also willing to moderate my expectations in the hopes of a team that is incredibly successful in the future.

Also, I am shocked at the Jamal Khashoggi killings, and at the responses from both Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Both seem desperate to remind others of their importance, however both come off as hypocrites. President Erdogan wants to remind everyone that he is a pivotal ally who is against this kind of press brutality, but he has cracked down on his own people and officials for years, and is in charge of a country that has attempted to bully others into denying the Armenian Genocide. Meanwhile, the Crown Prince has tried to shape himself as a reformer, yet he cannot seem to stop himself from resorting to brutal tactics in order to take power.

This is a sad saga, and one that I hope gets resolved. But it is on all of us too hold both of these regimes accountable, and to make sure that justice in this case is served. Journalists and the press keep our leaders accountable, and it is our responsibility to make sure both countries understand this.

The Pain of a Migraine & Wayne Rooney

Migraines are painful I regret to inform you, and I found out in rather brutal fashion on Wednesday night. I was hosting an event for the AEI Executive Council with Reihan Salam (awesome guy by the way), when I noticed a large blurry spot in my vision. I could not make out a word on my phone screen and an hour later my hand hurt in some kind of way.

After arriving at the Urgent Care center in Ann Arbor, they treated me and dealt with me being I am sure less than pleasant. I was annoyed and in pain, and they reacted with stellar poise. If you have a migraine, get medication as soon as you can and do not let it sit for too long. Otherwise a flash can turn into a nightmare.

Also there was a brilliant profile on Wayne Rooney I highly encourage you to read. If there is any 30 for 30 material in the MLS, this run from DC United might very well be it. I think it just might be the best sports story we have seen in awhile.

 

Is Boxing a Sport?

Laugh at me, this is a very serious matter. The Canelo-GGG fight was apparently incredible although I did not get to watch it. Whilst many thought the fight was close, a large number of people disagree with the decision to give it to Canelo. The first fight I did watch and thought the GGG should have won the fight. However, by what measure, and how do we even score this?

Judging has been boxing’s biggest problem, and to me the reason while it may very well not fit the category of sport. To me sports, regardless of the level of physicality, have clear winners and losers that are decided in the respective game or competition. So then can we say esports is a sport? I would say so, even if there is not serious “physical activity” the winner is clearly decided upon by what happens within the game. Gymnastics, Diving, and others are harder to justify. How can it be a sport if judges all with different backgrounds are assigning scores? Are these competitions incredibly difficult? Of course, but it is still not a sport in my book.

Boxing is an interesting case, as it for me depends on the situation for whether or not we can classify it as a sport. If a knockout occurs, then yes I would call it a sport. If not, I would call it an “athletic competition”. Maybe I am crazy but I think I am on to something here. Stay tuned for more in the future.

Son escapes military duty and Michigan’s first loss

The beloved Tottenham Hotspur player Son Heung-Min escaped mandatory military service after he helped his home country of South Korea beat Japan in the final of the Asia Games in Indonesia yesterday. It is a great for Son, as he is a hardworking joyful player who now gets to live out his career without having to worry about 22 months away from the game. Regardless, the rule for mandatory military service seems slightly ridiculous out of context.

If I ran a country, I would make sure mandatory military service is not a thing to begin with. Why? People should be able to choose their career paths, regardless of some of the practicalities that mandatory service may serve. Countries like Israel and South Korea may indeed need mandatory service but again you have the right to choose what work you want to pursue, and to me mandatory service gets in the way of that. However, if you are going to have the rule, it is strange that you would make exceptions for Football players after they win a tournament. What did they do for their country that someone else did not? Why are athletes allowed to get special treatment if they do well? Is representing your country only about the result? To me, it is brutal for all the players involved that their futures hung in the balance over winning a football game. While I do not know what I would say in its entirety, however I can say that this pressure was unnecessary and unfair to someone like Son and the rest of the South Korean national team.

Yesterday also featured Michigan’s very first football game of the season, which they lost by a final score of 24-17 to Notre Dame. It was great to see both teams back on the field, as it is one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports. It is also good to know that Michigan is not hiding from difficult opponents, when we push our players it makes our program better as a result. However, Notre Dame were simply the better team, and we deserved to lose by more than we did.

Jim Harbaugh came into Michigan and seemed to be able to do no wrong. Now, the questions will begin.  I personally do not think it is fair to put him on the hot seat yet, as this is the first game of the season and we have a long way to go before we truly know what kind of football team we have. It is still reasonable that Michigan wins nine games which for any school would be a fine season. However (uses James Earl Jones voice), This is Michigan, and Michigan will not be happy with good enough. He has turned our program around since the Brady Hoke and Rich Rod days, however his novelty to make any team incredible is beginning to fade. Questions remain and by the end of the season, I hope for Michigan and Jim Harbaugh’s sake that the team plays better than it did last night.

 

How LAFC won me over

I have followed soccer for a few years now, and despite being from LA, I failed to really get into the LA Galaxy. However, after my third LAFC game I am officially a fan of the club.

The stadium is absolutely gorgeous, in the middle of Expo Park, you can see the sun setting as you walk in. Meanwhile, the fans are electric, while the supporter section is full and rocking. In any club’s first year, getting a supporter’s section to even show up is an accomplishment in itself. Not only are fans there, but they are absolutely rocking.

The players this team has are young and exciting, most notably former Real Sociedad player Carlos Vela. Every time he touches the ball he seems to make music, flicking the ball onward, nutmegging players, and grinning after each effort. This along with new signing Christian Ramirez, speed racer Latif Blessing, and captain Laurent Ciman have created a culture in their first year that is one of the best the MLS has to offer.

If you live in the area and have not been to an LAFC game, I encourage you to go, they are not super expensive and is insanely fun. I think this team is great for LA’s soccer culture, as it gives us a soccer rivalry to be proud of and grows the game in our city and our country.

 

Fixes for the NBA and Monday Motivation

Here are a few ideas on how to fix the NBA:

  1. Reduce season to 58 games in which every team plays each team twice. Tie breakers would be decided first by head to head, then by point differential throughout the season, if neither break the tie they would play an extra game. This would reduce injuries and increase the importance of each regular season game, rather than the season dragging on for too long.
  2. Make the playoff an eight team playoff in which the top teams regardless of conference or region make it. Eight teams would create more pressure on regular season games and force teams toward the top to play until the very end of the season and not rest or stop playing once they have clinched a playoff spot. This would also reduce the length of the playoffs, which can go on for months. This leads to more injuries and less novelty toward each playoff game.
  3. The bottom four teams should be relegated to the D-League or a lower tier counterpart and those teams would be replaced by four newly promoted teams. This would prevent tanking and force teams to be as competitive as possible each season.
  4. Get rid of the NBA Draft and allow players to sign for whichever team they like so long as it fits within the salary cap. Preventing players from playing for there desired franchise is absurd and would be deemed unfair in any market outside of professional sports. That being said, I enjoy trades and they can make for fascinating drama. It also gives teams consequences and it is much simpler than the current transfer system throughout soccer. I would keep the rest but give players more leverage in picking which teams they can play for. While I also am not a fan of the salary cap, it helps even the playing field if properly used. However, in time I would like to see it go and allow teams to offer as much as they can in order to woo players.

Those are just some ideas although I am sure there needs to be much more than that to prevent injuries and keep the entire season engaging.

For your Monday Motivation, this stop and assist by Wayne Rooney to win the game for DC United is incredible. If this doesn’t fire you up, I don’t know what will. Happy Monday!

My Way Too Early EPL Top 4 Predictions

I am Tottenham Hotspur fan first and foremost, and the English Premier League is my biggest obsession. These are my Way too early predictions for who will finish in the top four.

  1. Liverpool – After the horrific performance from Lorius Karius at the Champions League Final, Alisson Becker promises to be the goalkeeper that this team has been looking for. Him along with Lovren and Van Dijk in the back should help bring stability to this team on defense, while the likes of Salah, Firmino, Mane, and Shaqiri all should help bolster the terrific front 6 this team has. Jürgen Klopp’s men are more than capable of pouring it on and now finally has the defense to match. On paper Manchester City are still the favorites, but I like my chances with this squad.
  2. Manchester City – Guardiola’s men ran all over the premier league last season won an impressive 18 straight and finished with 100 points, the most ever. The addition of the sensational Riyad Mahrez should help this squad stay right where they left off. That being said, I will not bet for a team to win twice in a row. Liverpool most definitely can challenge but do not be surprised if this team comes out and wins again.
  3. Tottenham Hotspur – Perhaps I am biased, but this team still has the continuity to qualify for the champions league. Spurs fans are itching for a trophy as this team feels to strong not to have one. Pochettino has turned this club around, and under the likes of Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and others, have become a formidable force in Europe. They will open up for the first time in Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and the momentum that should bring will be enormous. However, Tottenham are still not good enough to win.
  4. Manchester United – Say all you want about Mourinho, this team is still one of the most talented in the premiership. Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, David De Gea, and others can keep this team afloat with or without their manager. Talent alone should propel this team forward. However, if Mourinho decides to complain and destroy his men, this team could be in trouble.

Urban Meyer & The MLS All-star Game

As a current Michigan student and fan of Michigan Football, albeit not as much as I used to be, hearing that Urban Meyer was being placed on paid leave certainly caught my attention. Urban Meyer was accused of knowing about abuse allegations from his former assistant Zach Smith as early as 2015, however he claims to have not known about until two weeks ago. This follows an investigation conducted by former ESPN college football reporter Brett McMurphy, showing pictures and text messages indicating Urban Meyer’s knowledge of Smith’s abuse against his ex-wife Courtney Smith.

When the Harvey Weinstein accusations were first brought to light, it felt like a tsunami. Quickly other men went down, and the #MeToo movement began. Louis C.K., Roy Moore Al Franken, and most recently Les Moonves all were accused of sexual assault in some form or fashion and paid or will pay a hefty price for their actions. While the allegations certainly look bad, I think it is important that the University take time to make sure this is true. If the allegations are true they should not hesitate to fire Urban. While Urban is certainly a great coach, the importance of the #MeToo movement is that there is a consistent line established for men who engage in this behavior. It will always be impossible to be perfect, however it is important that we strive to be as fair as possible when dealing with these cases and handle them appropriately. I have certainly disagreed with some of the ways people have responded and not responded to sexual misconduct, however I think Ohio State and the NCAA have an opportunity to send a message, and all things being equal if this is true they should fire Urban Meyer and everyone else who had knowledge of the incident.

In other sports news, the MLS All-Star Game was last night and I have two major takeaways. First, the broadcast duo of Adrian Healey and Taylor Twellman are the broadcast duo we deserved for the world cup. They had a terrific rapport that allowed them to give great insights while also leaving time for plenty of banter. They also were able to discuss the incredible success of Atlanta United without it becoming over the top or lionizing the fans and ownership. Taylor Twellman won me over with his post US Soccer missing the world cup rant (what are we doing?!), and his color commentary is simply the best the US has to offer. It is a shame only the MLS gets to hear it on a regular basis.

My second takeaway was how impressed I was with the talent on the field. As a Tottenham Hostpur fan I have been skeptical about embracing the MLS. However as LAFC has turned out to be an overnight sensation, and more and more teams get added to the league, I have begun to follow more closely. Watching the game last night, it became clear that the MLS is no longer the league where old players go to die. There is real talent from Alphonso Davies to Miguel Almirón and Carlos Vela. The pitch was beaming with talent, and while there is no question that plenty of work lies ahead, it was nice to watch how impressive many of the players on the field were.