Cricket Crazy in Dhaka

Image of street vendor in Dhaka before cricket match in Bangladesh.

Yes, it has been a while since I posted anything new here and nearly forgot how to write for fun until I had the fortune to attend a cricket match in Dhaka. That’s when inspiration struck.

Cricket. For people who have actually heard of it as a sport and not as a crop-killing insect or American cell phone service for the elderly, cricket rests high atop the pantheon of the most boring athletic activities known to planet earth.

In the minds of many, or at least mine, cricket welcomes comparisons to other traditionally upper-class games of privilege and snobbery like polo, croquet, or bridge. All are probably enjoyable for the participants, but for the casual spectator of sports, they all fall miserably short in satiating the appetite for witnessing the beauty of the human body falling violently to the turf during a heart-pounding two-minute drive in American football or the thrill of Game 7 in the World Series.

When I was younger, I had heard about cricket but never actually saw the game played. Referred to as a “gentleman’s game,” I knew it had English roots and therefore assumed it was basically lawn bowling with middle-aged, monocle-wearing British chaps smoking pipes and doing something with a ball. Turns out, I was mostly right. At least back then.

Now, I have come to understand that cricket, due to Great Britain’s colonial heritage, is actually a sport that fuels the dreams of kids and adults alike in India, Bangladesh, West Indies, Zimbabwe, South Africa, as well as Australia and New Zealand.

Moreover, cricket is a wildfire that has swept throughout the South Asian subcontinent and become a way of life for well over a billion people.

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Super Bowl Sunday: A Moral and Civic Duty

Image of Super Bowl Sunday oath of allegiance.

Once again, the holiest of American holidays is upon us. In honor of this hallowed occasion, we will offer forth a ritual sacrifice 1.2 billion chicken wings, 29.7 metric tons of nachos, and enough beverages of all types to fill our planet’s oceans 35 times over.

Already, we have been granted the grace of our football gods as CBS will televise the event, sparing us from the torturous four-hour neural assault from Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on Fox Sports. The game is also being hosted in New Orleans — a city that embodies the festive atmosphere of Super Bowl Sunday better than any other location in the U.S., and does so during the other 364 calendar days each year. Moreover, my favorite team, the San Francisco 49ers, has earned the right and privilege to entertain billions of spectators on the largest of stages.

But above all else, Super Bowl Sunday has the power to unite our divided nation by providing tradition and common ground for us all to simultaneously eat, drink, and be merry with one another in front of TV sets throughout the country.

But is everybody on board?

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I Just Called to Say ‘I Love You’ – The Manti Te’o Saga

Image of Stevie Wonder as Manti Te'o

Music legend Stevie Wonder depicts telephone calls between Manti Te’o and his phantom girlfriend.

Wow, what a week. President Barack Obama proposed major legislation to regulating guns, signaling one of the boldest moves in his presidency to term. We witnessed an unapologetic Lance Armstrong offer up a confession in an exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey, admitting to the world he had indeed used performance-enhancing substances throughout his career.

Yet, we have been blindsided by a story that has completely dumbfounded sports fans and regular people alike. The tale of Manti Te’o and his phantom girlfriend has inspired the imagination of an entire country and, in doing so, claimed an impressive victory in a veritable television sweeps week full of top-tier news stories.

How did he do this? The bizarre-o-meter is off the charts and is unlike anything I — and many others — have seen in my life of sports addiction.

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Debunking the Reasons to Watch the NBA Finals

Like many of you, I have read several articles this week telling me why I should watch the NBA Finals. Not a single one is compelling enough for me—and most likely, the average American sports fan—to turn the channel from reruns of Wipeout or World’s Deadliest Car Chases and try to enjoy a competition that is probably fixed from the get-go.

In a season that began with a tug-of-war between owners and players over which party will have the privilege to pocket the majority of cash coughed up by a nation of fools, the 2011-2012 basketball campaign saw NBA Commissioner David Stern’s continue his masterful racketeering scheme more efficiently than ever. How he and the league attract anybody to watch regular season basketball after this public display of greed-laden grievance, let alone shell out $40 for a cheap seat, is perhaps the shrewdest scheme in the entire world of sports.

Image of David Stern getting rich

The inability for both sides to reach an agreement in a timely manner led me to declare a personal boycott on NBA basketball for this year’s games. As it is, I spend enough time and money feeding my appetite for spectator sports without basketball. If these multimillionaires feel the need to fight over my money without providing any notable service in return, I will happily watch other millionaires play a children’s game with a different-sized ball on TV while wearing a shirt that matches theirs. I can also fill the void of witnessing the nightly tattoo exhibition by attending a heavy metal concert or shopping at my neighborhood Safeway in Northeast Washington, D.C.

If there was any modicum of hope for redemption in my mind, it was shattered for good two weeks before the season was to begin.

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Major League Baseball 2012: The Year of the Heart Attack

Image of baseball 2012 heart attack monitor

Ladies and gentlemen, baseball is back.

Each year, we hear that hope springs eternal. No matter which team you cheer for, every baseball fan of any team—both young and old—has a reason to be optimistic. Unless you live in Kansas City, Houston, or Seattle.

While the passing of the vernal equinox promises renewed life for all sentient beings in the northern hemisphere, the summer of 2012 threatens to eclipse this notion by offering a smattering of opportunities for baseball fans to watch life slip away, all whilst enjoying our nation’s pastime at the local stadium. If you support a terrible team, this may come as a welcome change from suffering through a miserable 162-game slog to the familiar confines of the musty cellar.

Whatever your reason for attending a game, fans of all ages will gain unprecedented access to a level of baseball enjoyment in 2012 that will surely test the bounds of mortal life. I am not talking about experiencing your team winning the World Series, witnessing a no-hitter, or catching a free t-shirt fired out of a cannon.

I am talking about baseball’s foray into the latest innovative, delectable stadium junk food that promises to draw millions of fans through turnstiles across the country.

Sure, every stadium has its signature bite, whether it’s a cheesesteak at Citizens Bank Park in Philly, Rally Fries at Safeco Field in Seattle, or the overrated Dodger Dog in Los Angeles. This season, however, will see the birth of a new and improved species of foodstuffs that will leave thousands exiting the park on stretchers.

It is 2012 – the year of the heart attack.

A look at some of the notable additions to the rosters of several stadiums’ food vendors will explain why.

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National Nightmare Unleashed: NFL Playoffs 2012 Part Deux

Image of Tim Tebow and Justin Bieber

Mr. Popularity: What do these two have in common? Apparently, a lot more than I possibly imagined.

Well, after declaring false prophecy last week when I picked Pittsburgh to dispose of Tim Tebow and the Broncos, I was not expecting to be blindsided by a tsunami of unparalleled hype. However, when I read the news Thursday morning that an ESPN poll rates Tim Tebow as the most popular athlete in the U.S., I — apparently unlike a lot of people — experienced acute disgust at yet another Tebow headline. But this was far worse. As Charles Barkley so eloquently states, this is more than just turrible, it’s a national nightmare.

After my stomach had settled down somewhat from rage-induced vomiting, I became perplexed at how all of this is even possible. Then a “light bulb moment” struck me. I realized that Americans, as a whole, have the absolute worst taste in just about everything imaginable. We are a nation that loves the taste of McDonald’s. We lap up sequel after sequel of horrible movies faster than Hollywood can rip them off and spew them out. Almost half of us voted George W. Bush into office in 2000 and more than half re-elected the buffoon to a second term.

Perhaps our greatest detriment as a society at large is an unfounded infatuation with pre-pubescent bubble gum pop music. That’s when it hit me. I realized that Tim Tebow is the Justin Bieber of sports.

This realization did not settle my stomach any, but it has allowed me to make sense of the Tebow phenomenon unlike anything else before.

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Questions, Answers, and False Idols: NFL Wild Card Weekend

Image of Tim Tebow

"Forgive them, for they know not what they do." Tim Tebow, worshipped as a false idol in Denver and across the country, prays for the salvation of his followers...and a victory over Pittsburgh on the Sabbath.

Predicting winners in the NFL Playoffs is much like picking the winner of a Presidential Election. With the start of the Republican primary campaigns polluting television screens across America, we are inundated with numbers from the latest popularity polls and so-called expert opinion, only to witness these prognostications rendered meaningless when final results roll in and evaporate the fanfare. As in life, so as in football.

However, unlike politics, the opinions of your everyday American slob actually bear weight in the landscape of our country’s rich culture and tradition. We can also take solace in knowing that one cannot lobby or simply buy their way to victory as we experience each election cycle, but that wins can only be gained—and manifest—on the actual field (except in college football). With that, I present my keen insight and clairvoyance in picking the winners for Wild Card Weekend.

As always, this is not the place where we examine statistical breakdowns or X’s and O’s. No, my friends, this is a genuine, red-blooded American blog where we need no facts to form opinion and no numbers to prove we’re right. We create our own logic and rationale based on gut feeling and inexplicable bias.

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