Sports


Tim Tebow, ever the controversial QB, has usually received huge fan support from evangelicals for his outspoken faith. But apparently Tebow’s frequent religious references have incited (constructive) criticism from fellow-believer and NFL QB Kurt Warner. Here are some of Warner’s soundbites from a recent USA Today article:

You can’t help but cheer for a guy like that….But I’d tell him, ‘Put down the boldness in regards to the words, and keep living the way you’re living. Let your teammates do the talking for you. Let them cheer on your testimony.’

I know what he’s going through, and I know what he wants to accomplish, but I don’t want anybody to become calloused toward Tim because they don’t understand him, or are not fully aware of who he is. And you’re starting to see that a little bit.

There’s almost a faith cliche, where (athletes) come out and say, ‘I want to thank my Lord and savior.’… As soon as you say that, the guard goes up, the walls go up, and I came to realize you have to be more strategic.

The greatest impact you can have on people is never what you say, but how you live. When you speak and represent the person of Jesus Christ in all actions of your life, people are drawn to that. You set the standard with your actions. The words can come after.

I suppose I understand Warner’s concern. But how else and how long does Tebow need to “represent” Christ with his actions before he should speak out? The outward nature of Tebow’s faith has been well documented for several years now, and the actions represented in his recent come-from-behind winning streak has even won the respect of many of his critics, including teammates, coaches, opponents, and commentators. Beyond that, it seems that it is the media of all sources which has pushed much of the religious discourse surrounding Tebow and his recent achievements (see, e.g., here, or just watch ESPN today). So, what else does Tebow need to do before he should be vocal about his faith? Moreover, I’m confused about what Warner means by Tebow needing to be more “strategic.” I doubt that Tebow’s objective for giving thanks to Christ on television is to proselytize; rather, his references are so brief and generic that it seems to me he is just giving credit to the one who gives him the confidence needed to be successful in the NFL. And I, personally, have no problem with that. At this point it might even be stranger if Tebow said nothing about his faith at all.

For my American readership, I thought I would let you know that the Football (Soccer) World Cup is kicking off this weekend. World Cups in any sport only come around every 4 years, and I was vaguely aware of it just before we moved to England 4 years ago. The games were in Germany and played live in the US in the morning, so I would have to watch the replays on the Spanish channel at night. Since I’d never gotten in to soccer playing a game with no audio didn’t help much, but I figured I needed to have a taste of it before moving.  My appreciation of the sport has risen greatly after being here.

This year the games are in South Africa, so not bad for a European time zone, but I guess more people have pvr’s these days, so that’s not as much an issue. Funny enough the US is playing England for their first game.  Of course the English think they will win, but I know otherwise.

Even though the English invented rugby and cricket, there was now where near the interest that football draws. England is touted as the country with the least national pride in Europe (as a saw in a recent survey). You hardly ever see an english flag (since it is kind of associated with right-wing anti-immigration types), which is different from the British Union flag. But the flags are everywhere now.

England Flag: St. George’s Cross
England Flag

British Union Flag:
A Combination of St. George’s Cross (England), St. Andrew’s Cross (Scotland), and St. Patrick’s Cross (Ireland) Wales technically falls under St George’s flag, but their Dragon didn’t make it in.
British Union Flag

For Recreational Use OnlyNow that the weather is nice my boys and I have been out in the back garden (~yard) playing catch with our(american) football.  It hit me that I needed to have my older son (7 yrs) practice catching with a baseball glove but all I could find around the house was tennis ball.  It was ok, but I went to find a baseball somewhere.  I found one at a couple of places that had a ball-bat combo for about £9 ~$18 and that was more than I wanted to spend.  As we were out looking at bikes (see below), I found one at a store for just £3.  It had this funny warning sticker:

‘For Recreational Use Only’ — What other use is there for a baseball?

 My 4 year old over the weekend came up out of nowhere and asked me to take his stablisers (~training wheels) off.  I had to convince my my older one that he had to take his off before we moved when he was.  It was like pulling teeth and severely tested my patience.  Not this time.  Once we got a couple of test runs, all I had to do was pinch his shirt on his back to ‘hold on’ but he was doing all the work.  Exciting.  It made me want to get on the bike more, so I went out and bought one on sale since I had been struggling with an old used one since I got here.  I also got around to fixing the front break on my older son’s bike, so all three of us are ready to roll.  We plan to hit some of the local bike trails this summer.

When the English Football (~soccer)season started in August, and I decided that I would attempt to keep up with teams this year.  I’ve done slightly better than last year, but it has mostly been a year of international rugby and cricket for me.  As far as I can tell there are no college sports to watch on TV, so professional sports are your focus.  Football definitely is the most popular and your local football team gains all the attention. The domestic cricket season runs from April to September, domestic rugby union from September to May, and domestic football from August to May.  From what I’ve heard, football draws from middle to working class, while rugby and cricket are more middle to upper class.

I finally made it to my first football game this weekend.  I saw Sunderland play Manchester City with my older son.  Other than Newcastle (which I tend to hear more about), Sunderland is the other local premiership team (they were promoted from a lower league this year).  They dominated the game but unfortunately lost, based partially on poor officiating.  A couple of interesting differences from US sports … 1) alcohol is sold but you can’t bring it into the seating area, 2) the away team fans only enter through specific doors and all their seats are together with police separating their seats from the locals’ in the stands, 3) the concession stands closed as soon as the second half started, 4) one side or the other was constantly singing fight songs.  It was quite an experience.  I definitely hope to see more, but the tickets are much more expensive than other sports so it won’t be too often.

Wikipedia has a decent article about general football stuff.  The most interesting thing is the league structures: the leagues are ranked (premiership, championship, league 1, league 2,…) and are all connected.  Although there are different leagues they aren’t separated into major league-minor league divisions–any team could potentially play in the top division.  At the end of the season the bottom 3 teams are ‘relegated’ to the next lower league and the top 3 teams are ‘promoted’ to the next higher league.  There is also the Champions league, which is the pan-European league of teams and only the top teams in a country can participate in this league.

Noted as the best ‘division 3′ play ever.

http://cosmos.bcst.yahoo.com/up/player/popup/?rn=207187&cl=4788157&ch=207399&src=sports

England beat France–14 to 9–(in Paris, by the way) last night to clinch a spot in the championship game.  It was a tight game but Jonny Wilkinson’s drop goal with about 5 minutes left, put France out of reach of any easy drop goal win themselves.  After a slow start in the World Cup games, England wasn’t projected to get past the quarter-finals.  But now they’ve made it to the big dance, so we’ll see if they can repeat as the World Cup champions.  Argentina and South Africa play tonight in the other semifinal game.

India pulled out a nail-biter today against Pakistan in the World Twenty20 championship. One of the other sports that I’ve been watching is the Rugby World Cup. As with other World Cup championships, they only come around every four years. I was in Australia about 12 years ago, around the time of the WC then, and picked up an interest in the sport. The Six Nations Cup plays each winter/spring, and that was fun to watch as well.

Each team has played about 3 games, and the US is all but out of it. They lost to England and Tonga and are expected to lose both of their next two games. However, the basic analysis is that they are performing better than expected, so that’s better than nothing. So, with not much to gain interest there, I’ve been obviously following England, who were the World Cup champs the last time around. England was trounced by South Africa earlier last week, which sent up some red flags. But they won squarely over Samoa Saturday to stay in the hunt. They aren’t the favorites to win this year, and must win their next game to move into the quarter finals.

So one of my resolutions for this year in England is to more fully engage in the local sporting culture. This primarily consists of watching regular amounts of local sports on the telly. The one sport that I know the least about is Cricket. I didn’t really give the Cricket World Cup earlier this year much attention, but it turns out that they are playing the World Twenty20 Cricket 2007 right now. The Twenty20 version is the same as normal Cricket events, except each team only gets one innings (sic) of 20 overs a piece. While that may not mean much to you, for us it means that the games last about as long as a US MLB game instead of 1 to 5 days. So, these games are much easier to watch (and gain permission to watch from your wife). England didn’t do as well as hoped, but they did okay. I watched India beat Australia today, which was unexpected, but it was quite a good match. On Monday the final will be played between Pakistan and India.

After watching several games over the last couple of weeks, I think I’ve got the basics down and even a little strategy. One help was watching games with the wikipedia article open to clarify things. I’ve enjoyed watching the games, and hope to keep up with it (at least at the World Cup level) even if/when we leave the UK. Within England, Durham County supposedly has quite a good team. Their season is all but wrapped up now, so I’ll have to go see one of their games live next year.

After taking up cycling about four years ago, I started to be more interested in the Tour de France. Last year my wife would say it was an obsession as I watched OLN (now Versus) each night. At that time they mentioned that the start would be in London in 2007, and I told her right off that I was planning on going to see it.

So my 6 yr old son and I jumped on a train Friday night and watched the Prologue and Stage 1 on Saturday and Sunday live. We hit the Science Museum Saturday morning for my son. Then about noon we set up camp waiting for the 3pm start. The Prologue is an individual time trial, with each rider starting about 1 minute apart. With almost 200 riders it takes about 3 1/2 hours. The pre-race caravan that comes through was pretty fun–the race sponsors throw sweets, pens, key chains, etc. It was cool seeing the riders come by but they generally start with the lower ranked people. There was a huge crowd, and it was a little uncomfortable standing up and squeezing out a spot from those that came later than us. My son eventually got too bored to hold out, so we gave up our spot and walked around. We checked out a few areas that have screens, and that was more engaging, especially when we also got to see Cancellara and Klöden provide quite a run for the lead.

For Sunday, we set up in Greenwich (where the meridian–0 degrees longitude–is, it’s a quite nice area we plan to explore more of), right near the start. People didn’t pack in as early as yesterday, but by the time of the race it was just as busy. It is a quick experience as they race by, but it was cool to be there. I would say that being near the screens does provide a bit more excitement. The finish, which I later watched on TV, was one of the most exciting that I’ve see. Robby McEwen got caught in a wreck with about 25 km to go and hurt his wrist. His team stayed back and helped him rejoin the peleton with just a few km to go. In the last couple of hundred meters he showed up out of nowhere and won by a full bike length.

Lance Armstrong retired a couple of years ago with a record 7 wins and in the last year doping charges have cleared out several other old power houses so the race is wide open.

Allez Andreas (Klöden)!

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