Supreme Sports Personality Championships: Tiger Woods v Roger Federer

December 10, 2009

Roger Federer is simply the best. He has the best Grand Slam persona. He is a Supreme Sports Personality Champion. He is the perfect role model to inspire others in how to behave decently. This view is qualified by contrasting Roger Federer with Tiger Woods.

These two supremely talented sportsmen and champions have been in society’s collective consciousness for a decade or more and have left impressions on many of us in general (not just on avid golf or tennis fans). From time to time, we have all looked in from the outside at these two great sportsmen of our time, who are both considered the greatest of their generation, and the greatest of all time (true in the case of Federer; in-waiting for Woods). I wish to blog a little about these impressions formed in society’s collective consciousness (some different, some similar) and explain why Federer is so much greater and supreme than Woods.

Talent In Their Chosen Sport
Both Federer and Woods excel in their respective sports. Federer has a record 22 consecutive Grand Slam semi-final appearances, and has won 15 Grand Slam titles. Woods has 14 Major titles. The manner of their domination is what’s interesting.

Federer has always played to his ability and let the results speak for themselves. Jimmy Connors has been quoted: “In an era of specialists, you’re either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist, or a hard court specialist … or you’re Roger Federer.” Federer does not look down on or disrespect his peers. He does not engage in any noticeable gamesmanship. In fact, he is the most likeable and popular player on tour.
In contrast, Woods dominated his peers only in the early years of his career. Between 1999 and 2002, there was simply no one near fitter, more talented or plain better than Woods. Gradually, as his peers improved and caught up to Woods’ high standards, Woods has had to modify the way he “dominates”. There is no longer a “level playing field” because Woods demands certain “conditions” from his peers, and also from his spectators. Woods is simply treated (and demands to be treated) differently than other golfers. Woods is also not the most popular amongst his peers.
Federer 1, Woods 0

Personality In Their Chosen Sport
Federer has an early childhood history of being rebellious and of smashing up his racquets on court. Fortunately, he learned to control his temper and rage and has gone on to become the greatest tennis player of all time, as well as the nicest champion of all time. He is the most likeable and popular player on tour.
Woods has a history of swearing and of gamesmanship. He growls and snarls and ignores everyone (some might say he is just “being focused”; others might say he is being arrogant and disrespectful). His attitude when he makes a bad shot or when he loses a tournament is not good for kids to see. Woods can be short with people, and condescending. He is not the most popular amongst his peers.
Federer 2, Woods 0

Personality Outside Their Chosen Sport
Woods’ “transgressions” has revealed that he is not the “clean Mr Nice Guy” that his management company would like to have everyone believe. Signs of his “dark side” surfaced during his mid-20s, when Woods hung out with The Brothers (consisting of basketball players Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley American footballer Ahmad Rashad, and baseball player Alex Rodriguez). In 2001, they travelled to the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas where Jordan gambled, placing up to $5,000 on a single card. Woods exhibited his rebellious side by bleaching his hair blond. Woods eventually married in 2004 (which is a similar age to when Federer married) but revelations have since appeared that show Tiger has been promiscuous before and after he was married.

Federer is simply a nice guy; an all round top bloke. However compared with Woods, Federer is still relatively young (he is 28 and recently married) so there is a danger that he may find himself in a situation with a mistress. In terms of age in years, Federer is about 5 years younger than Woods. However, the way Federer conducts himself, both on and off the court, demonstrates that he is a mature responsible professional and suggests that he has a good head on his shoulders and has a fantastic support group. Let’s hope Federer does not succumb to any “transgressions” in his future life.
Federer 3, Woods 0

In HKSARblog‘s humble opinion, Roger Federer is the true Supreme Sports Personality Champion.

[Read Comments Here]

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Hocus Pocus For Premiership Players

November 26, 2009

It appears some local bloggers (e.g. Ulaca and In Black and White) like to comment on football or soccer, particularly but not exclusively from England’s Premier League. I’m also a fan so I’ve been thinking about posting something about soccer but with HKSARblog’s usual skepticism about certain practices.

So how about: Desperate and Injured Premiership Players Place Faith on Placental Fluid Miracle Cure?
The media circus started when Arsenal’s star striker Robin van Persie injured his ankle a week ago when playing for Holland against Italy. The initial diagnosis was that he had a partial tear in his ankle ligaments and would be sidelined for six weeks. He then announced that he was going to Belgrade in Serbia to seek a “mysterious housewife” who apparently can help players recover quicker by using placental fluid. Initially, the media did not know much about the treatment, by first saying that the woman massaged placental fluid taken from horses on the injured area. Next, it was dripped on. And now, there are reports that injections of placental fluid are involved. No one appears to know exactly what this alternative therapy is, or who this woman is.

Despite this, it later emerged that a whole gaggle (plethora? pile? posse?) of premiership players (e.g. Liverpool’s Glen Johnson, Fabio Aurelio, Yossi Benayoun and Albert Riera; Chelsea’s Frank Lampard; Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta) and some top European players have also been treated by this “Mariana Kovacevic” who has at least three aliases and four different addresses. Why all the secrecy? Tax evasion perhaps, or something more sinister?

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (usually considered rational, relative to other Premiership managers that is) said he “recognised the psychological benefits such a treatment may have on an injured player”. Yes, Arsene may be on to something here. As with many alternative therapies, the placebo effect can sometimes be significant.

Furthermore, we are talking here about elite athletes in the prime of their lives, whose body conditioning can be significantly different compared with “normal” people (i.e. ordinary citizens who do not maintain their bodies at above-average condition on a full-time and prolonged basis). For instance, if you treat a bunch of injured people with the same therapy and divide them in to two groups (one group being young elite athletes; the other being older, unfit and overweight people), it would not be unreasonable to perhaps expect a difference between the groups in their recovery period and performance. A good example would be swine flu: there have been cases of professional football players who have caught swine flu, and none have died. Whereas in other demographics, some people have died from swine flu.

This is why proper clinical trials should always be arranged, rather than relying on testimonies; in this case testimonies from superfit elite athletes.

Still, all this Hocus Pocus malarkey in the Premiership is interesting to follow. Eventually, the truth will out.

Born To Run

November 11, 2009

Humans evolved to be long-distance endurance runners. An interesting New York Times article mentions the ability for humans to run long distances is an evolved trait. Apparently, having good stamina that allowed early human hunters to track their prey for long periods, spanning time and distance, was of great survival advantage.

Tracking prey for long periods over vast distances is necessary to tire out prey animals. This trait can be observed in wolves, animals also known for their ability to track their prey for long periods. Wolves are capable of covering several miles trotting at about a pace of 10 kmph (6.21 mph) and can reach speeds approaching 65 km/h (40.39 mph) during a chase.

Therefore from an evolutionary perspective it makes sense that humans generally are good distance runners. Humans have evolved to run over long distances, with world-class distance runners being at the extreme end of the scale. As mentioned previously, I admire world-class distance runners, who can run on average at sustained speeds* of:
22.82 kmph (14.18 mph) for a distance of 10,000 metres run in 26:17.53 (current record holder is Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia); and
20.42 kmph (12.69 mph) for a marathon (42.195 km) run in 2h03:59 (current record holder is Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia).

However, I don’t especially admire their physique (particularly female marathon runners):

[Paula Radcliffe, New York Marathon November 1, 2009]

In comparison, the world’s fastest man in terms of sprinting short distances is Jamaica’s Usain Bolt who sprints at 37.58 kmph (23.35 mph) over a distance of 100 metres. So a world-class marathon runner is able to run at a little over half of Bolt’s top speed over 100 metres … but can do so 422 times consecutively. This is simply astonishing.

* These times are based on men’s events

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Portsmouth FC Hong Kong Connection

November 3, 2009

Portsmouth FC is now the second English Premier League club to be financially linked to another Hong Kong businessman, after of course Birmingham City FC.

[Portsmouth FC colours]

Balram Chainrai, a Hong Kong-based businessman of Nepalese extraction, has loaned £15 million to the club, which ensures that all outstanding October wages will be paid to Portsmouth FC’s employees. This has also fueled speculation of a change in ownership of the football club.

Apparently, Chainrai went to KGV (i.e. Hong Kong’s King George V School), and has a biomedical science background as well as a British passport. Naturally, the Premier League is seeking further information about Chainrai, although since he is not a director of the club and apparently does not control 30% or more of the club’s shares, Chainrai will not have to pass the Premier League’s fit and proper person test. What other “gems” will the media uncover?

Stand Out Face

October 29, 2009

The inimitable Ulaca has an interesting post about Olympic swimming champion Rebecca Adlington. Something about her looks being like “someone who’s looking at themselves in the back of a spoon“.

What’s wrong with telling things like they are? When I first saw Ms Adlington winning at the Beijing Olympics last year, my first thought was that her face looked pretty alien and therefore reminded me of a Star Trek alien called Odo.

I thought she had the appearance of a “face behind a latex mask”.

[Rebecca Adlington with OBE and Star Trek: Deep Space 9 security chief Odo with Quark]

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Carson Yawn Very Chinese

October 20, 2009

Better times will surely come to Birmingham City FC, so it was probably a very bad idea for Carson Yeung to bring along the wife, mistress, girlfriend or perhaps sister to watch his first match as the new owner of the Blues. From the looks of things, she did not appreciate being made to sit and watch the match between Birmingham and Arsenal.

[Carson Yeung and guest unimpressed and bored, respectively]

Cultural Note
When Chinese people laugh, especially Chinese girls and also many Asian women, the social norm is for them to cover their mouths with one of their hands. But when Chinese people yawn (or burp), they usually don’t bother covering their mouths. It’s quite distasteful.
Why is this? Why the inconsistency?
Perhaps bloggers from the highly irreverent Dark Side will provide their unique take on this sometime?

Former Policeman and Barrister Becomes an Executive of Birmingham City FC

October 10, 2009

What can Birmingham City FC, under the new Carson Yeung reign, possibly want with Peter Pannu, a former senior anti-triad police officer and barrister?

Edit: Phrase deleted.


[Peter Pannu has experience with undercover law enforcement as well as legal affairs in previous careers]

Carson Yeung Ka-shing is apparently making astute appointments at Birmingham City FC. It will be interesting to observe how Birmingham City FC will develop as a team in the Premiership and as a marketing strategy in Greater China.

Buyer of UK soccer club stands by choice of cleared officer (SCMP; subscription required)

Barclay Crawford
Oct 09, 2009

Grandtop International Holdings has stood by the appointment of former Hong Kong police officer Peter Pannu to a leading management position in its HK$731 million takeover of English Premier League soccer club Birmingham City.

Pannu was cleared of corruption, assault and criminal intimidation charges during his career.

A company spokesman said the former senior anti-triad officer and barrister had the legal knowledge and appropriate management experience to serve the club.

Pannu has said he will be vice-chairman of finance and executive matters, while chief operating officer Sammy Yu Wai-ying will be responsible for the soccer-playing side of the business.

In January 1993, Pannu was charged along with a colleague with accepting HK$20,000 from Sun Yee On triad boss Andely Chan Yiu-hing. Pannu was alleged to have accepted the bribe to protect the gangster, known as the “Tiger of Wan Chai”, from a police operation against him.

Pannu’s trial was halted more than three years later because of a missing witness and because Chan had by then been murdered. Pannu was also cleared of assault and criminal intimidation charges.

The court said missing witnesses could have helped Pannu’s case and without them he could not receive a fair trial.

Former Hong Kong police detective David Fernyhough, who now heads the Hong Kong office of corporate-risk investigation firm Hill and Associates, said investigations into Pannu stemmed from a far wider investigation into the Sun Yee On’s lucrative stranglehold on the entertainment industry in Tsim Sha Tsui East in the early 1990s.

During the years he was suspended from the force on full pay, Pannu completed a law degree.

A spokeswoman for the Hong Kong Bar Association said Pannu was admitted as a barrister of the High Court of Hong Kong in 1997. He resigned from the police force in 2000 and finished practising as a barrister in the middle of last month.

The Grandtop spokesman said the company had no comment on previous connections between Grandtop and Carson Yeung Ka-shing, the former hairstylist turned businessman who has been the public face of the takeover.

Referring to Pannu, he said: “We have taken advantage of his knowledge and experience … at this stage, Peter has no formal status within the club or exact position.”