Sunday, November 25, 2007

Letter to Sarah Ulmer

Here is a letter to Sarah Ulmer.

Dear Sarah,
You rock! What a wonderful person you are. What a great sportsperson you have been. Sure, you could have won more if you hadn't been injured, but you conquered Everest, winning an Olympic Gold in a world record time. I am thrilled for you. You should be immensely satisfied with your career. You did yourself and NZ proud.

What I like most about you is not your sports brilliance, although I love what you have done. It is your character. You, like Barbara Kendell, light up the world around you. To me, character is way more important than sporting prowess. You embody character. You have joy and you inspire. You embody a piece of writing that means a lot to me, 1 Corinthians 13.

So, thanks for your brilliance and great thanks for your person! I know you will go onto further greatness in the world beyond competition. I urge you to pass it on. Inspire the youngsters of this nation to play hard with character!

I have three daughters in sport. One has applied for a scholarship to go to the Olympics with Hamish C. If she wins, she gets a mentor. You were her number one choice! I hope she wins the scholarship so that your infectious joy and optimism may rub off on her.


Yours truly
Mark and family

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Bangladesh Cyclone

What is wrong with our news coverage? How can this not lead the news today? Reports suggest 2000 people are now missing! Dhaka is in rubble! Thousands are stranded on islands in the Bay of Bengal! We must pray! The search is on to find out how bad it really is. If this was in a western situation, we would have nothing but continual coverage! Come on NZ, start being global! Let's pray, let's send money, let's help! In 1991 another cyclone saw 143,000 die! It is expected that the death toll will reach more than 3000! 1000 fishermen and their boats are unaccounted for! Then there is the toll on animals with thousands floating in water near a world heritage site and the home of the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger! I hate our westo-centricism! Let's open up! Let's pray and help.

NZ Batting Woes 2

I have written before on the NZ batting woes. We do not have players with an adequate technique to cope with quality pace bowling. Papps and Cummings are simply not good enough cricketers to cope with pace bowling. Fleming is injured. Styris has always been marginal. But who will take their places? Perhaps McIntosh to pair with Cummings? Sinclair does not have the technique to bat about 5. Perhaps put Fleming at 3, Vincent at 4, Sinclair at 5, Oram at 6. Taylor can be given more time to develop? Or play 6 batsmen and 4 bowlers?

Whatever, the problem is shuffling deck chairs at present. We need to listen to John Parker and concentrate more on technique, to ensure our batsmen have the essential technique required to bat at test level!

Bugger Again!

My post rugby world cup blog was entitled 'bugger!' This one is due to the netball world cup. It was terribly disappointing to watch in one sense, Aussie won. On the other hand, they gave it their all so... well done the Silver Ferns. You could not back up, but you went close.

My analysis suggests we lost for several reasons:
1. Jodie Te Huna was off her game. She was reticent to shoot and it placed too much pressure on Irene van Dyk. Too many short passes in the circle, which the Aussies touched away.
2. The mid-court was outplayed. It seemed to me that the Aussies had more pace and were able to exert more defensive pressure. It was noticeable that Langman struggled to get free and this stifled the flow. Oh that she could have played WD and Temapara was there at her best. But you can't go back (I wish Tana had been in France too).
3. The fouling of the Australians esp. in defence. The Aussies without doubt played to disrupt in the circle, going to the edge of the law and beyond to disrupt NZ. I have written before on this blog of the problem we have in netball. Vilimainu Davu used to do it and Liz Ellis and her mates really push the boundaries. Intentional hits, knocking the balls out of the hand. Without a foul system, or a yellow card system, netball will continue to be ruined. I am not blaming the refs, but the Aussies know how to slow us down, and disrupt Irene van Dyk.

Generally, the Aussies were slightly better. But in Cassie Williams, we have a superstar.

Way to go Ruth A and the team, you did us proud. Time to rebuild the Silver Ferns though, a few are now hitting the ends of their careers. Bring on the young stars to complement the mature, and we will turn it around.

James and Murray Deaker

I was listening to newstalk ZB today (Sat 18-11) sometime around 5.15 and I heard the biggest plonka I have heard on radio for a while. A guy called James rang up and had a go at Deak's. He got stuck into him for calling Graham Henry a mate and then writing his book on the World Cup in which he critiqued Henry's approach to coaching. He suggested that some respected All Black had supposedly told him that when Deak's was an alcoholic that Henry stood by him. He then suggested that Deak's first wife had left him and that he had found support from his mates then. Deak's responded by telling him that his first wife had died of cancer and that it was all a rubbish.

I just wanted to express in public on the net that James is a plonka! In fact, he is far worse. He is a disgrace. He crossed the line and deserves a bollocking. If you know James out there, give him the message. Deak's suggested that he would have decked the guy if he had said it to his face. I can tell you Deak's that there are many of us who would have joined the queue!

Some people need help... James, get some!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Ethical Dilemma

I came off the motorway heading north at Tristram Ave on the North Shore of Auckland (NZ) and as I approached the lights they turned amber and then red. It was one of those situations where I could have gone but chose not to. I would have made it easily and I was tempted.

As I sat at the lights the thought went through my mind, 'what if I have an accident between here and home? I could have taken the option of running the red (safely) and not had the accident!'

Anyway I sat there pondering such thoughts and then the light turned green. As I drove off in my lane the guy in the lane next to me decided to go for it and cut across on me into my lane. I hit the breaks and thankfully managed to avoid crashing. After the usual comments best left unmentioned and hitting the horn, I laughed to myself thinking... perhaps I should have run that red! Of course, the truth is, I didn't crash; but it made me think. Ethically, it was illegal to run the red light, but perhaps morally it was right? Any thoughts?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Stop the head shots

Building on the previous blog, the recent controversy in regards to the failure in Britain to cite players who inflict head shots on other players needs to be brought into context. It is ridiculous. These players should have been cited and banned for 2-6 weeks. Anyone who goes for the head in the rugby codes should pay the price.

I can imagine the second test tomorrow becoming rather tough. It would not surprise me if the Kiwi's take on the British with some big shots. Why not? Supposedly there is nothing wrong with it. Of course, one can imagine the ref sending someone off from the Kiwi's? If so, why would the Kiwi's not walk off the field and refuse to play? Then, they would be cited, and suspended!

League need to sort themselves out. Many see it as a game of thuggery, I am not one of them. The NRL has done a brilliant job in ridding the game of such problems. The British need to do the same. They need to have the same standards to international league.

I will be watching the game with interest. Will the Kiwi's degenerate into thuggery? Or will they rise above it?

I can't really understand Kemble getting such a hard time on this tour. He has a Kiwi team bereft of the best Kiwi players up against a British team that has pushed our A team over the last few years. Give the guy a chance. Perhaps thuggery and head hits are the key!

If so, then league too should be banned, or at least cleaned up!

Boxing Should Be Banned

I watched some of the 'Mountain Man's' fight last night. He got a good pasting in the end, cutting badly, blood pouring down his face. It should have been stopped earlier when he was severely cut. It is sad because to me it is the end of his being a serious threat. He has the skills, but he cannot take the hits, his skin cuts too easily and he cannot sustain the heat. He is a great boxer to watch, but unfortunately to me, it is all over. He may struggle on, but I would suggest getting a day job. Not that I would say that to his face, I would last about 5 seconds in the ring before you would see me running through the entrance at high pace!

The fight got me thinking about the question, 'when should a sport be banned?' Some would ban all body contact sports such as rugby and league on the basis of the injuries generated. I can see why, the injury toll is shocking, the cost to society of these injuries through the health system and ACC is massive. There is of course a trade-off, society getting a lot of pleasure out of the sport, young men kept off the street and fitness and health benefits. Mind you, having been a part of the Kiwi rugby culture, I am not sure that 'young men kept off the street' works. It was in the context of sport that I became a heavy drinker and got up to all sorts of stuff. It works both ways for sure in many sports.

So where is the line? To me one point at which the line should be drawn is where sports involve intentional attacking of the head. This is what boxing is about. The ultimate goal is to knock out the opposition, inflicting enough damage to the opponent brain that he/she is unable to defend themselves, to stand up i.e. concuss the opposition.

Now concussion is a really dangerous thing. According to concussion causes irreversible detruction of some brain cells and others are left alive but in a vulnerable state. This lead to the neurovacular system being unable to respond to the demand for energy to restore brain function. Even a moderate head injury from a non-penetrating blow to the head or shaking causes brain injury. Even though many can recover, for some this leads to lifelong disability.

The brain is mobile within the skull. It is cuishioned from the skull by the cerebral spinal fluid. However, when the head is subjected to violent forces including a punch in the head, it can be damaged permanently. It causes brain tissue to be 'ripped, torn, stretched, battered and bruised.' It leads to bleading, swelling and bruising. The brain can often recover, at other times lifelong difficulties can occur. We have all seen images of Ali and other ex-boxers who are substantially damaged. Basic functions such as walking, talking, thinking, remembering and mood can be affected. Even minor head injury can cause substantial difficulties that can be lifelong.

We are a strange society. We are PC to the core but we let boxing go ahead without thought. The sight of Cameron staggering around with blood all over his face may have appealed to the ancient Romans and set off a sense of macho power within us blokes, but it is ridiculous that it is permitted today. We should know better.

So for me, sports that target the head intentionally should be banned. All such sport should be banned. Don't get me wrong, boxing gets my blood racing, my testosterone gets moving and I find it exhilirating. But it also leaves me with a sick feeling in the gut. That is because it should be banned and I know it.

So, sorry, but I am a party pooper. Boxing should be banned, and sad though it is, Cameron the mountain man is no longer a threat.