Monday, 8 December 2014

The Politics of Sport - Our National Game

CONTENT NOTE: This piece will discuss rape, anti-semitism, and homophobia.

Much has already been written on the topic of footballer, Ched Evans attempting to restart his career after serving a prison sentence for rape. But my focus today isn't on Evans. Both Jessica Luther and Jude Wanga have done that better than I could.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Driven By Emotion

By Shane Thomas

High-profile sport may not have been at the forefront of George Orwell's mind when he wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four, but there's no doubt that his concept of 'Big Brother' is an aspect of the sports-industrial complex - some may say a positive one.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Being Human

By Shane Thomas

Trigger Warning for discussions of misogyny, homophobia, and rape.

I think we can agree that being a professional athlete requires a degree of diligence around one's physical conditioning. And despite this, is often a profession that has enervating effects on both body and mind.

Monday, 13 October 2014

The Politics of Sport - Waiting For Change

By Shane Thomas

"The whole recruitment process needs to be more professional, more diverse, and equality-wise, fairer. We've struggled to do that." - Gordon Taylor

"There is no racism in football... If you are good, you get the job... Football is not stupid to close doors to top people." - Jose Mourinho

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Health and Safety Doesn't Matter Here

CONTENT NOTE: Some of the embedded links depict head collisions.

By Shane Thomas

In the aftermath of Chelsea's comfortable 2-0 win over Arsenal on Sunday, it would be easy for one to focus on Arsenal's propensity to be outmaneuvered by a direct rival yet again, or even the childish altercation on the touchline between Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

The Politics of Sport - Small Steps Are Not Enough

By Shane Thomas

CONTENT NOTE: Islamophobia and, Sexism

It was long overdue, but basketball's governing body, FIBA recently decreed that players will be permitted to wear religious head coverings during play. Further good news in the sporting world came as the R&A members announced that after 260 years, women now have the opportunity to be members of the club at St Andrews.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Hail Golf's New King. Respect Its Old One.

By Shane Thomas

By the time you probably read this[1], the 40th Ryder Cup will be imminent, with Europe and the United States competing for the trophy which Europe retained in dramatic fashion two years ago at Medinah.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Politics of Sport - Their Game. Their Rules.

By Shane Thomas

It's important to start with this. Malky Mackay and Iain Moody are not demons. They don't walk around, cloaked like pantomime villains, muttering curses under their breath whenever they walk past a woman of colour. In fact, if I found myself in a social situation with them, I wouldn't be surprised to find them agreeable company.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Previewing The Premier League 2014/15

By Shane Thomas

For swathes of last season, Sky Sports proffered the line that it was probably the best season in Premier League history. Beyond shameless self-promotion, Sky made the common mistake of confusing drama with greatness.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

That Losing Feeling

By Shane Thomas

While history will likely remember the past year in basketball as the year LeBron James returned home to Cleveland, the 2013/14 NBA season could also be the one in which the sky fell in on the Miami Heat - James' former team.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

The Politics of Sport - The Missing

By Shane Thomas

As the Tour de France rode to its conclusion at the Champs Elysee last Sunday, the twin headlines of Team Sky's moribund attempt to win a third successive tour, and Vincenzo Nibali finally achieving ultimate victory in France, dominated the world of cycling. But there was a subplot in the peleton that may have bypassed your attention - which is something of a metaphor for the problem at hand.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Politics of Sport - Brazil 2014. Was It Worth It?

By Shane Thomas

Now that the trophy has been awarded, the media has gone home, and FIFA has packed away their succubus of a circus, a key question remains for the host nation. It's one that often arises when a major international sporting event concludes. Was it worth it?

Monday, 14 July 2014

Good Pitch? There's Nothing Good About This

By Shane Thomas

When I first began to watch cricket (I was about 12), I would often hear players and commentators talk about a pitch (or wicket) being "good". I soon learnt that a good pitch was one that was amenable to plenty of runs being scored, favouring the batsman, and making it onerous for bowlers to take wickets.

Monday, 7 July 2014

International Football's Changing Face

By Shane Thomas

One of the major narrative threads to come from this World Cup (given that much of the media refuse to acknowledge how the tournament is hurting part of Brazil's population) is how many of the more heralded nations have been below their best. As the business end of the competition begins, the four nations in the semi-finals have been inconsistent in terms of dominance.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

The Politics of Sport - Ghosts of Brazil

By Shane Thomas

Let's play a game of word association (a la this scene in Skyfall[1]). I say to you, "Brazil". Your response?

It might not be your first, nor your second, but I'm sure in your top 5 replies would be the word "football"[2]. It's been part of the cultural make-up of Brazil for generations. One could argue that football is the country's greatest export.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

World Cup 2014 - And The Winner Is...

By Shane Thomas

When asked to compare the World Cup and the Champions League, commentator Jon Champion opined that the Champions League may be football's gold standard, but the World Cup remains the pinnacle.

So with that in mind, here's a brief rundown (accompanied with ill-advised prognostications) of the teams likely to ascend to the aforementioned pinnacle. So before you ask, no, there will be no look at England in this post.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

La Decima - Real Madrid's Favourite Toy

By Shane Thomas

This was a story of wanting. It was made up of persistence, ego, and greed. But ultimately, it was about a want. A desperate, edacious, grasping want.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

The Diary of a Pessimistic Arsenal Fan - The Trophy

By Shane Thomas

Arsene Wenger said it began to feel like a curse. Sporting curses are normally a preserve of North America, but given Benfica's failure in the Europa League final, stretching the Bela Guttman curse into its 52nd year, and Liverpool - in part due to Steven Gerrard becoming acquainted with the Anfield turf - falling agonisingly short of ending their 24 year wait for a league championship, it seemed as if football is now getting into the curse business.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The Politics of Sport - The Unwanted (but much needed) Interloper

By Shane Thomas

CONTENT NOTE: This piece will include examples of racism, rape culture, domestic violence and transphobia.

With the recent incidents concerning the footballer, Dani Alves - and the subsequent #weareallmonkeys hashtag, as well as LA Clippers owner, Donald Sterling being banned from the NBA, it may give a false impression that the arenas of sport and politics mix in relative comfort. However, the collision of the two is often a problematic one.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

United in Grief

By Shane Thomas

As the postmortems and retrospectives of David Moyes' compendiary spell as Manchester United are written, I had to join the punditocracy by penning my own thoughts.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Politics of Sport - Be Our Guest

By Shane Thomas

It's seldom that I don't enjoy the Olympics and Paralympics (summer or winter). However, this year's Winter Games in Sochi came with an awful lot of baggage. While I thrilled at the exploits - not only of the British medal winners, but also the men's and women's Canadian hockey teams, and the historic achievements of Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, Roman Petushkov and Carina Vogt - this joy was offset by a maelstrom of problems.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Beware The Little Horse

By Shane Thomas

Not long ago, I threw some self-indulgent shade at Chelsea re-hiring Jose Mourinho last summer. However, after their accomplished 1-0 win over Manchester City on Monday, the media narrative appears to be showing the Portugese much favour.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

The Last Laugh

By Shane Thomas

"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." - Mike Tyson.

In the summer of 2013, Engand trounced Australia to win the 2nd Test by 347 runs to take a 2-0 lead in the 2013 Ashes series. In his post-match press conference at Lord's, Australia captain, Michael Clarke declared his belief that his Australia side could win the final three matches of the series to regain the Ashes. This statement elicited bouts of derisive laughter from the press, and likely many England cricket fans.