Archive for the ‘sports’ Category

Wizards Holding Open Tryouts

Friday, December 5th, 2008

It’s the stuff of dreams.

Last spring, two amateurs showed up at Swope Park for open tryouts with the Kansas City Wizards, and made the team. By the season’s end, one of them was a starter.

Tryouts this year are March 7-8. If you want to give it a shot, sign up here. But don’t underestimate that middle-aged guy playing midfield. I may be uncoordinated, but I am deceptively slow . . .

A Great Kansas City Weekend

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

Saturday morning golf at Blue River’s sweet par 3 course.

Breakfast at Winstead’s.

A noon tour of the Boulevard Brewery (including tasting a dry-hopped saison and their pilsner).

Lunch after the tour at La Fonda El Taquito.

Mizzou trouncing Nebraska in the evening.

Sunday morning flyfishing at James A. Reed, where I had Bodarc Lake entirely to myself.

I love this city.

Ballroom Dancing (DanceSport!), Synchronized Diving and the Meaning of Sport

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

I love watching the Olympics – but the Beijing Olympics are proving just how right I was back when I questioned whether Ballroom Dancing should be in the Olympics.

In yet another assault on all that is decent and traditional, the International Olympic Committee is considering adding Ballroom Dancing, a/k/a DanceSport (no, I’m not kidding) to the Olympics roster. Just what the world needs – another “sport” without a ball, without a goal, but with a panel of judges.

Hilariously, the new trend is to synchonize things. Synchronized swimming burst on the comedy scene several years ago, and now we’ve moved onto synchronized diving. It seems the proponents of silly non-sports have decided that if they can add more gimmicks and entertainment value to the activity, it will justify calling it an Olympic sport.

Obviously, it can’t end there. I think the next trend will be to have a “Project Runway” competition added on to the activity. Participants will be called on to design their own costumes in less than 45 minutes using only materials supplied. Wouldn’t that be hot tranny fun?

The difference between entertainment and sport is that sport has objective scoring – real scores based on real, non-subjective happenings. The other things are truly impressive physical activities, but they don’t belong in the Olympics. The Olympic Motto is “Swifter, Higher, Stronger”. The ancient Greeks didn’t seek “Prettier, Perkier, More Graceful”.

Ballroom Dancing In the Olympics?

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

In yet another assault on all that is decent and traditional, the International Olympic Committee is considering adding Ballroom Dancing, a/k/a DanceSport (no, I’m not kidding) to the Olympics roster. Just what the world needs – another “sport” without a ball, without a goal, but with a panel of judges.

The problem is rooted in a misunderstanding of the difference between sport and other hard activities. The IOC looks at several factors to decide whether an activity can be considered an Olympic sport – among them are physical strenuousness, history and tradition, popularity and cost. Also, a big plus for “DanceSport” (yes, I smirked as I typed that) is that it has gender equity built in, since the heterocentric norms of the activity require that teams consist of one of each gender.

If you’re going to include activities based on physical strenuousness, history, tradition, popularity and cost, why not include the marching band tuba player? What about roofing? Rolling out dough for quiche?

It’s remarkably simple – real sports don’t have subjective judges. Sure, tennis might have a line judge, but that’s just a referee, there to decide what really happened. You don’t see judges awarding points to tennis players because their form was perfect, or because they really captured the spirit of the crowd. Even ugly tennis players get calls going their way, unlike in gymnastics.

Ballroom dancing is not a sport. Ice dancing, figure skating, diving, gymnastics and equestrian dressage are not sports. They are activities, all of which are far beyond this writer’s abilities, but so are sewing, playing the flute, and speaking French. All these activities are fine pursuits, but they are not sports.

Sports have real scores – scores that keep track of objective things. Did the ball go through the hoop, between the uprights, or over the fence? While, on occasion, there may be some dispute as to whether those things actually happened, the point of the sport is to make them happen. And artistry isn’t the point, or even relevant, except as a means to the end. Nobody gives points to a quarterback who throws a great spiral if it’s not caught. Nobody cares if a pitcher lands gracefully.

There are no gray areas if you focus on objective scoring, though there are a few areas where the scoring may be so difficult as to allow subjectivity to creep in. Olympic boxing is a sport in its ideal, but judges are given such a difficult task in deciding whether a punch was landed or blocked that some inadvertent subjectivity is bound to occur. The point, though, is that a punch is a punch, not an artistic statement.

Similarly, it would be possible to create real sports out of many of the pseudo-sports that infest the Olympics. How high can the ice dancer throw his partner? Put bars up for them to clear. How far can they jump? How long can they spin without vomiting? Note that the entertainment of these activities would actually increase if they were converted to real sports!

The Olympic Motto is “Swifter, Higher, Stronger”. The ancient Greeks didn’t seek “Prettier, Perkier, More Graceful”. We’ve already slid way too far down the slope of sports that Dick Button can gush about without adding ballroom dancing to the menu.

Symbolism Run Amock

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

Chiefs fans get free prostate cancer screenings tomorrow.