08 July 2010

90 Minutes from the Most Underwhelming Trophy in Sports

Congrats to Spain and the Netherlands. You've both played pragmatic, quality if less than spectacular football against top opponents. The Spanish for their part have won each of their knockout games 1-0, breaking down the staunchest of defenses in the Portuguese and Paraguayans and stunting the potent attack of the Germans through relentless possession and pressure. Holland took care of upstarts Slovakia, top-ranked Brazil and Uruguay with determined, disciplined performances highlighted by the play making abilities of Wesley Sneijder and Giovanni Van Bronckhurst's upper 90 goal of the tournament. Now either the Spanish or Dutch squad will take home the World Cup (more on said "cup" in a moment) for the first time, basking in the glory of a well deserved title while simultaneously tossing aside the Mickelsonian label of "best team never to win the big enchilada". Even the Dutch sides of the 70's, total football, Johann Cruyff and all that were unable to capitalize on two trips to the finals. To be fair they played the home team both times, surrendering an early lead to Gerd Mueller Germans' in Munich in '74 and falling in extra time versus the Argentinians in the Confetti Bowl of '78. They did win a European championship in 1988 with the equally stylish play and looks of Ruud Gullit, Marco Van Basten and company. Spain too have experienced continental success, twice, in fact, 1964 and two years ago with the same group of players due to walk out at Soccer City on Sunday.

So in the battle of Gouda versus Manchego who wins? I don't know, clearly I'm not much good at predicting these things (see previous post) but I expect that Madrid will be the happier capitol on Sunday night. There's simply no denying that the Spanish have imposed their style throughout the tournament. David Villa is the ultimate poacher of goals, the man makes opportunities appear from the smallest of spaces neglected by a defense. Andres Iniesta and Xabi Alonso pull the strings through the midfield in the passing give and go orchestration that has defined their play. Does it make for jogo bonito? Personally I'm not a fan, particularly when few scoring opportunities and fewer goals come as a result. On occasion it looks like their too concerned with putting together the perfect play, threading passes together around the 18 yard box even when obvious shots present themselves. There is merit in the skill, the displays of ball control and the smarts of these players in their off the ball movement but the games themselves can lull into a siesta like rhythm. I would prefer to see the piercing ball, the run behind defenders, a hint of a smile on Vicente del Bosque's face, alas this is probably much too much to ask for. Then again, maybe the Dutch will score first and force the game open, now that would be a treat for all 6 billion of us that will be watching.

Awaiting the winner is easily the most anti climatic prize in the sports world
(that picture is actual size). Having vanquished 7 teams over the previous month and an untold number over the previous 2 years in qualifying your bounty is the World Cup Trophy. 14 inches short and 13.6 pounds of solid 18-carat gold, designed by an Italian named Silvio Gazzaniga, his design was deemed the replacement for the equally uninspiring Jules Rimet Cup which Brazil retained after their 3rd World title in 1970. I believe that might be the first and only mention of Silvio Gazzaniga in the blogosphere for the record. The Stanley Cup that's a trophy, the big serving plate at Wimbledon that's cool, my fantasy football league has more impressive looking trophy (and of course the laurel wreath to really drive home the Greek god-like stature). This "World Cup", the sculpted player celebrating victory whilst holding up the globe strangely resembles Leonardo Di Caprio at the helm of the Titantic has got to go the way of the dodo. Germany, Argentina, Italy and Brazil have each won it twice since 1974, next one to win a third title can take it home and put it up for permanent exhibit. Let's redesign this thing. Let's give these teams, these countries, the World something worthy of a champion.

28 June 2010

World Cup Question Time

Two weeks into the global football party and I figure its time to answer some reader mail (actually I have no readers so these are all questions I have asked myself in one of those weird one person conversations).

Referees continue to miss calls in critical moments in critical games. Roughly 2 billion people saw that Lampards' goal against the Germans was over the line and that Tevez was 4 feet offsides in the opening goal against Mexico. What's up with those douches at FIFA not using technology at all to assist the referees in their decisions?

Well that's just it, FIFA is a bunch of stodgy, traditionalist, ignorant a-holes bent on maintaining control according to their antiquated, anachronistic view of the game. The rule making body for the game, the International FA Board (IFAB), met most recently in March of this year and obstinately rejected technological assistance for goal line or offsides calls or reform of any sort for that matter that might have improved upon the current umpiring set up (i.e. the use of two additional referees on the respective goal lines). The IFAB consists of the Football Associations from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and FIFA. In voting protocol, each of the British FA's has one vote and FIFA has four, with 6 votes needed to pass any rules modification. The English FA, governors of the most profitable and successful domestic football league in the world, support to a modest extent the introduction of some sort of technology to assist referees in goal line decisions. While I'm not sure where the other British FA's stand, it hardly matters as FIFA is really the man behind the curtain here. And FIFA's euro-centric, conservative captains manage the game on their own cloak and dagger, Vatican-like terms. Their rationale for rejecting technology would be fodder for debate if there was one, but the organization rarely feels the need to inform the public or media outside of blanket statements touting the "integrity of the game" and maintaining the "human element". It's difficult to root for a disastrous situation, but I wonder how many more fans, players, those with an investment in the game FIFA must ostracize before there's a serious attitude shift in Zurich. CLEARLY, Lampard's goal was good, the game takes on a different dynamic at 2-2. This could have been confirmed to the head referee in 2 seconds by someone watching a replay of anyone of the 75 camera angles or in less time by a chip in the ball which upon crossing a magnetic field defined as the goal mouth triggers a signal to the the head referee or a Hawkeye system similar to the ones used in professional tennis. Offsides calls require a bit more brainstorming but I'm confident smart, open minded people could at least figure out a way to avoid the glaring mistakes that have marred a number of games, most notably the Argentina-Mexico round of 16 match yesterday.

Yo dude, love the blog. What's wrong with African teams? Seems like every year we talk about a breakthrough. This year especially with the World Cup being held in Africa for the first time, everyone thought this would be time for a couple of teams to get through to the second round at least.

Thanks man, appreciate it. I think there's a couple of issues plaguing the African outfits when it comes to their World Cup performances, not only in this World Cup but over say the last 12 years. While Ghana earned a place in this year's quarterfinals ( a feat equal to Senegal's run in '02), they were the only one of the continents six entrants this year to advance beyond the group stage. And since 1998, when the tournament was expanded to the current 32 team format, only one African team has gotten to the second round in each edition. Nigeria in '98, Senegal in '02 and Ghana both in '06 and now. Problem numero uno (these go in no particular order); too many games=tired legs. In addition to the demands of European club seasons (where most of the World Cup caliber African players ply their trade), African footballers participated in their continental tournament earlier this year. The African Cup of Nations was held in Angola in January and is held every two years, during even numbered years at least until 2012 when they get off that cycle. So the tournament second in importance to African players, fans, and football associations has been falling within months of the World Cup since 1970. For starters, there's no way the tourney should be held the same year as the World Cup. Beginning in 2013 when Libya serves as hosts, that will change. Fine. Now the African Football Associations should also decide to hold the tournament every 4 years much like the other continental tournaments in Europe and South America. The grind of club competition, the qualifying campaign in Africa, the Cup of Nations blunts and subdues the threat of the better African teams. Yes good on Ghana but even there are without one of their best playmakers, Michael Essien, due to injury. Secondly, a major issue holding back the potential of many an African team is administration. The FA's are doing a real injustice to us all but especially the players with short order personnel changes, misguided managerial hires and firings that have led to indifferent performances on the pitch and turmoil off of it. Nigeria, Cameroon and Ivory Coast brought on new coaches in the months before the Cup began. Even Carlos Alberto Parreira had been in and out of favor with the South Africans (I would imagine he's out of favor again now after the disappointing first round exit of the Bafana Bafana). Officials at the African FAs need to exhibit a little more patience with managers and managers in turn need to exploit, not temper, the skills, speed and size of Africa's elite players. I'm not saying the tactics should be tossed aside in favor of all out offensive football just that the last two World Cup's in particular were characterized by stifling, confounding play from the majority of the African sides. Nigeria's recession from there promise of the 1990's when they reached the 2nd round at USA '94 and became the first non-European, non-South American winner of Olympic gold at Atlanta '96 is especially disappointing.

Really great insight on the blog, I'm an avid reader, you should work for ESPN or something. My question is about the downfall of some of the traditional powerhouses in international soccer. France and Italy played poorly and were both knocked out in the opening round, England didn't fare much better squeaking into the knockout stage but getting beaten soundly by Germany. What's up with that?

Thank you, from your keyboard to ESPN's ears sir. I fear, at least for the national sides mentioned above, that this World Cup may be the leading indicator of a generational gap in world class talent. Victims of their own success I suppose. The high profile nature of their domestic leagues and the runaway transfer fees and salaries paid to top flight players these days in Europe has meant that top clubs pay for the privilege of foreign talent rather than invest the capital into homegrown potential. It is not difficult at all to find an Italian Serie A squad or an English Premier league outfit with more foreigners than Italians or English in the roster. Look no further than Inter Milan, this year's European Club Champion, as they fielded not a single Italian in their starting 11 at the Bernabeu during the final. The development of younger players, especially in England and Italy, has stagnated in recent times. You might be shocked to know that England last finished in the top 4 at the Under-20 World Cup back in 1993, Italy never has. The larger clubs in both countries have splashed millions of Euros to bring in Brazilians, Argentinians, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish or even players from Eastern Europe at the detriment of their once fertile club junior ranks. France is suffering from the same issues to a smaller degree with the added impediment of a rudderless national strategy over the last two major international tournaments. Raymond Domenech long ago lost the respect of his players, the benefit of the doubt from the always fickle French public and now the cracks throughout French football led to a structural collapse of the spectacular sort. I blame all. The players were primadona's, Anelka has and always will be locker room cancer. His teammates acted shamefully in refusing to train and played as individuals in three games of forgettable football for Les Bleus. And the French federation may have gotten what they deserved having kept Domenech on too long. Perhaps there is some poetic justice in the French flop given that they cheated the Irish out of a spot in South Africa.

So what'd you think of the Team USA? Topped the group but dumped out in the round of 16 by Ghana.

How's this for confusing you, I viewed the US performance in South Africa as both a success and a failure. The draw and game against England created a significant amount of buzz even among the non-soccer loving in this country. Our gutsy fightback against the Slovenes captivated a mass audience. The dramatic late winner from Landon in the Algeria game will prove memorable for generations to come. And despite falling against a technical skilled and physically imposing Ghana side, our Yanks should be proud of their efforts. I think the team worked extremely hard for each other, Michael Bradley emerged as a young talent and hopefully a creative midfield stalwart for years to come, Landon and Clint Dempsey proved why they're the class of their generation. However, in the final analysis, this team had the potential to go further in this tournament. The early goals were the most obvious blemish, exposing the lack of experience on our back line. The lack of a true striker, I believe, is a bigger issue. Our front line players lacked the technical skill to compete at this the highest competitive level in the game. In fact it's the 2nd straight World Cup where not a single goal was scored by a forward from the US squad. Too many loose dribbles, lack of control, sloppy turnovers, wildly optimistic shots from outside the area and opportunities squandered in front of the goal mouth cost this team more than anything else. Jurgen Klinsmann, a man who's opinion I'm growing to respect more and more each day, said US soccer society is essentially turned upside down. Parents pay for their kids to play so that maybe they can eventually earn a college scholarship and thus the game here remains a middle class endeavor. If I'm following his reasoning correctly, I would agree without hesitation. The best soccer players are produced from the inner cities, from the lower income classes a conjecture almost counter intuitive in it's nature to most Americans. A lack of resources, monetary or otherwise, fuels improvisation, creativity, quick thinking and efficiency in effort, in other words a skill set suited towards success at the game amongst other things. I wouldn't suggest we intentionally foster favelas in American cities for the sake of producing a Pele or Romario, but I do believe and hope US Soccer aggressively promotes the game to a broader segment of society. You own the suburbs, now get into the inner cities, the police athletic leagues, the schools cutting budgets left and right...throw them a soccer ball. From there we can build. Then come 2014, 2018, 2022 (when the Cup will most likely be played here again), there may be someone from the current team (Edson Buddle, Hercules Gomes) or someone else who can be the finisher we need in the final third.

I know you don't like making predictions, but we're down to 10 teams left here, who you liking now?

Oh my readers, you know me so well. I do not indeed like making predictions, anything can happen on any given day. Honestly you would have thought the defending champs would be last in group with Paraguay, New Zealand and Slovakia? But I will say from the beginning of the tournament Argentina has looked the strongest side to me. Even though Lionel Messi hasn't scored a goal he's playing really well and has created multiple opportunities for his teammates. The game against Germany should be very interesting because I've been impressed by there free flowing play as well. Ze Germans are still a young side, perhaps poised for the greener pastures in four years time. I think Argentina goes through and beats Holland in the final. The Dutch have been practical in their approach and expended very little energy to date in reaching the quarters. I think they have the organization to deny Brazil space and speed on the wings in the form of Arjen Robben to trouble the Brazilian back line.

Seen any good soccer related flicks recently that you might suggest?

Absolutely, glad you asked. "The Two Escobars" is a two-hour documentary about the influence of notorious drug kingpin Pablo Escobar amongst other narcotraficantes in Colombian soccer in the late 1980's and early 1990's. Most poignantly the film, directed by brothers Michael and Jeff Zimbalist, recalls the life of Andres Escobar who was tragically murdered in Medellin only a week after he accidentally diverted a John Harkes cross into his own net in the 1994 World Cup. The film has a bevy of interesting interview subjects including most of the players from that bad ass '94 team, Escobar's (the drug lord) right hand man and Escobar's (the gentleman footballer) family and friends. I thought the production was superb which included a surprisingly edgy soundtrack and incredible footage of Colombia's violent days. The film is part of ESPN's 30 for 30 series so if you can catch it on the network I highly recommend.

Alright I know this is totally unrelated to the World Cup but I have to ask you what you think of the proposal to put two large aquariums behind home plate at the new Marlins Stadium?

Stupid....really, really stupid.

Thanks again, as always you can reach me at dmanic23(at)gmail(dot)com with your comments or questions. laters.

09 June 2010

The New Look Big Ten

If Nebraska goes to the Big Ten conference this offseason or next as has recently been reported then I propose a new look and organization for this conference. Here are my suggestions.

A two team divisional format;
East Division would consist of:
Penn State
Ohio State
Michigan State

West Division would consist of:

Should Big Ten officials decide to keep the current 8-game conference schedule then in addition to the 5 divisional games, the 3 opponents from the other division should include one permanent (preferably rival) opponent played on a home-and-home basis every year and two rotating opponents. With that in mind here are my proposals for the permanent matchups between the divisions:

Penn State- Nebraska
Ohio State- Wisconsin
Purdue- Northwestern
Michigan- Minnesota
Michigan State- Iowa

08 June 2010

World Cup Team Nicknames

Here's your exclusive guide to the team nicknames of the teams participating in the 2010 World Cup set to kick off this Friday from South Africa. Background explanation provided if merited.

Group A

South Africa- Bafana Bafana- it means "the boys, the boys" in Zulu, one of the 11 official languages of the host country

Mexico- El Tri- as in the tricolored national flag.

Uruguay- Los Charruas- an indigeneous people who once resided in the area now occupied by Uruguay, northern Argentina and southern Brazil before the arrival of Spanish explorers in the 16th century.

France- Les Bleus- "The Blues" after their signature home jerseys or alternatively what the Irish are singing after the "Hand of Gaul" goal by Thierry Henry that sees them at home this summer.

Group B

Argentina- La Albiceleste- team colors (this is a recurring theme already), white and sky blue. Anyone else secretly rooting for the Argies just to see if Maradona honors his commitment to streak through Buenos Aires?

Nigeria- The Super Eagles

Greece- The Pirate Ship- because they stole not only the opening match but also the final from the Portuguese at the Euro 2004 finals. Suggestion to the Greeks, find another nickname.

South Korea- Taegeuk Warriors, Tigers of Asia or the Red Devils- the Taegeuk symbol, representing ying and yang, features prominently in the center of the South Korean flag.

Group C

U.S.A.- The Yanks- I would personally prefer Sam's Army.

England- The Three Lions- i.e. Rooney, Lampard, Terry

Algeria- The Desert Foxes- I thought that was Rommel, dangerous opponent be careful USA.

Slovenia- nothing, no nickname, but they could garner one and a lot of attention for this small alpine nation if they make noise in this group.

Group D

Germany- Die Mannschaft- means literally "the team", not sure what the German translation would be for "the team that might be unexpectedly knocked out in the first round in a real tough group especially because there best player, Michael Ballack, is out with injury" maybe schiesse.

Australia- Socceroos- who doesn't like Kangeroos, the adorable creatures native down under or those sweet sneakers with the pocket on the side circa 1988.

Ghana- The Black Stars- if Mos Def and Talib Kweli had a favorite soccer team this would be it.

Serbia- White Eagles

Group E

Holland- Clockwork Orange, Oranje, The Flying Dutchmen- could we bring back the long hair, the headbands and the short shorts. Total football, I love it and love the country and not just cause of the tolerant attitude of marijuana.

Japan- Samurai Blue- leave the Hanzo's at home lads, they don't qualify as carry on luggage and you'll be home soon anyway.

Cameroon- The Indomitable Lions- i.e. Roger Milla, Rigobert Song

Denmark- Danish Dynamite, Olsen's Eleven- the coach has been there long enough (10 years) to get his name into the team nickname, that's dedication.

Group F

Italy- Azzurri- named for the traditional color of their home jerseys. The defenders return with essentially the same squad from 4 years ago, only problem everyone is 4 years older, slower, less likely to repeat their collective success.

Paraguay- Guaranies, La Albiroja- the indigenous and still existent population in Paraguay. Also see: much better than everyone thinks and likely to win the group if Italy drops the Jabulani.

New Zealand- All Whites- I suppose that differentiates them from the Rugby team known as the All Blacks. In fact only shot the Kiwis might have is if the All Blacks come out and scare away the competition with the Haka.

Slovakia- no nickname as of yet. Might I suggest "the country formerly known as the Slovakia in Czechoslovakia"

Group G

Brazil- A Selecao- or how about o melhor equipo do mundo. Seriously their running out of room on the jersey for another world cup star. Qualified for every World Cup, five titles, Samba, scantily-clad women.

Portugal- Seleccao das Quinas- refers to the five shields inside the Portuguese shield, try to catch a glimpse of it while Ronaldo is flailing to the ground once again. Such a great player, such a bad actor.

North Korea- Choilima- nothing else is known about this team for fear of reprisal from the regime. No joke, North Korea's manager tried to designate attacker Kim Myong-Won as the team's third keeper but FIFA ruled that is where he must play should he ever enter a game in South Africa.

Ivory Coast- The Elephants Africa's best squad drawn into the tournament's toughest group. If Drogba can play they might just give rise to the entire continent with an upset over one of the top dogs.

Group H

Spain- La Furia Roja- the red fury. Not so much on the international stage until recent triumph at Euro 2008 which was part of an unprecedented undefeated run of two and half years. Expectations, and wagers, are now higher than ever.

Honduras- Los Catrachos- Honduras and El Salvador fought a war over two hotly contested matches back in 1969, lucky for the Swiss and Spanish they don't have much of a Navy. Chile, consider yourself warned.

Switzerland- Le Nati, Schweizer Nati- it translates as the national team in French, German, Italian or Romansh. Two things are certain about this team, they'll be on time for all their matches and won't be at all bothered by the altitude at some of the South African venues.

Chile- La Roja- Just the Reds, no fury here. Good young players, the best Argentine coach in the tourney, lots to gain for a serious run at 2014 or maybe 2010.

17 March 2010

He's Back

Tiger is coming back at the Masters. What a fine article from the Associated Press on fan reaction to the decision, such insightful commentary from the dude at the Miami Shores driving range...


ESPN I'm available, look me up.

01 March 2010

March making a case for best month of the year

I'm excited about March. I usually am, it's the start of spring which means summer is right around the corner, but also March is full of sports events both locally and beyond which I hope distract me away from the rather miserable mood I've been in lately. This blog is not meant for a venting of personal feelings or a hashing out of disappointments, I recently read a New York Times magazine article suggesting that writing can be therapeutic in times like the present. So whether it's good or bad writing, I write nonetheless, and already I find some solace in it and what awaits a sports fanatic like myself over the next month or so.
First a brief reflection on the Vancouver winter games which I was glued to for the better part of the last two weeks. Lindsay Vonn is fast and hot, that's makes her doubly hot. I know it's chauvinistic to say but if there was any coverage of alpine skiing in the States I would be convert. She skis with the reckless abandon necessary to find success in that sport but which also frequently leads to spectacular mishaps and crashes. To me she was the single most captivating personality of the games, not to diminish the achievements or captivating nature of others including Joannie Rochette (who skated with amazing grace and strength to a bronze medal days after losing her mother). I join an already large consensus opinion that the hockey tournament was the best part of Vancouver 2010. Hockey is a great game, an ideal combination of speed, skill, creativity, physicality and strategy. When the world's talent meet on the ice, there is no better display of how exciting the game can be. Each game I saw was free flowing, offensive and competitive. Perhaps the enhanced exposure of the game and the build-up, drama and quality of the final between the U.S. and Canada will be beneficial to the ever diminishing NHL fan base in this country. I suggest those that now turn to the NHL will be disappointed to not see the same intensity that was present over the past two weeks and will certainly grow weary of a regular season full of meaningless games that still has 3 more months to run before the Stanley Cup playoffs commence.
Anyway more immediate attention worthy events merit mention now that the Olympic flame is extinguished for two years until London 2012. No Tiger, no problem for me at least at the CA Championship here in Miami in less than two weeks time. I've gone to this event the last two weeks and plan on being out at Doral again this time around. As far as a spectator experience, little else compares to a golf tournament, particularly of the caliber of these championships which usually draws the top players from across the world. You're outside on a beautiful day, you're an arms length away from the golfers, you can enjoy a beer and hot dog while following the action. Sports of the more traditional couch-potato variety also awaits in the form of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. The nation goes bracket and upset crazy for three weeks of interesting college mascots, gaudily painted parquet floors and an overdose of Dick Vitale. I hope, but doubt, my Gators will slide in so I can have a horse to stake on. Regardless, it's always fun to pick and run with a Cinderella.
Baseball spring training starts this week, my enthusiasm there only centers on Jupiter, Fla and the Marlins. Although they play in a tough division, I see this team competing well into the September, especially if the arms stay healthy and possibly winning the wild card. For now, opening day is a mere month away which means I'll soon be sitting in those orange outfield seats at Joe Robbie, sipping a beer (notice the recurring theme), sporting my new fitted Marlins hat rooting on the fish.
Honorable mention goes to the Sony Ericsson Open (also local but the beers are so expensive), Champions League second round matches and the one-day cycling classics in Europe.

01 October 2009

2016 Time for Change

On the eve of the official selection of the host city for the 2016 summer olympics, I've got to chime in and cast my vote. First off I'm a big advocate of the continental rotation both with the Olympics and the world cup, the two largest global sporting competitions. With that in mind I just see no way that Madrid wins the games after London will have hosted the 2012 edition. Not to mention that going back to 1992, the European continent will have hosted 3 of the previous 6 summer fesitvals. Madrid's bid, by all accounts, is flawless. They've already invested in building some of the most modern facilities anywhere in the world, check out the tennis center.

The government is firmly behind the bid as our most, if not all Madrilenos. But it would be just another well organized, safe but rather unspectacular games in another European capital and I think 2016 is ripe for change. For mostly the same reasons, I'm tossing the Tokyo bid aside adding that they already had the games in 1964. While I know that doesn't prevent cities from getting a second go (see London, L.A. and Athens) it does in this case combined with the Beijing factor, the games being held in Asia merely 8 years prior.
That leaves Chicago and Rio de Janiero. Surprisingly two cities I'm familiar with and have an affinity for. ChiTown is in many ways, a nicer big American city than New York. In terms of cultural attractions, diversity and an unquenchable flair New York has still got the second city trumped but one can't deny Chicago plenty of plaudits. The lakefront is stunning, no one has done a better job of truly preserving an urban open space. Public transport and ease of movement are world class with the "El" in the loop providing the city with that iconic image. And the natives are passionate, knowledgeable sports fans second, bright and laid back Midwestern folks first.
Now Rio, I do it no justice by calling it a geographical, topographical, vibrant, exploding metropolitan marvel. Mountains, jungle, waterfalls, monkeys, beaches, thongs, chopp, favelas, I could continue but I'm getting dizzy. What a scene man. You've seen the pics I know you have, in person, it's better. You've heard about the Carioca way of life, in real-time, it's richer. But here's the real reason I want Rio to get 2016. The games, if anything, in this era of uber commercialization and over saturation provide us with more indelible moments from the host city and host venues than anything else. Sure Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps were the stand out stars from Beijing but who among us will ever forget those opening ceremonies, the row after row of synchronous drummers. I know the Dream Team scored about 4,000 points en rout to the gold medal at Barcelona but I remember that archer and Barcelona was catapulted onto the world stage, a legacy which lingers to this day. Ali lighting the torch in Atlanta...I could go on.
Rio...Brazil...2016 could be the coming out party. Maybe people don't realize it cause there down there you know, south of the equator. Brazil is a massive country and finally beginning to leverage the considerable natural, social and political resources at its disposal. There should be no doubt that Brazil is a player on the big boy courts now. If you live in the U.S. chances are you recently flew on a Brazilian-made airplane, entered a Brazilian-constructed building or enjoyed a morning cup of Brazilian Joe (Joao to be linguistically correct). What the games did for Barcelona, they would do 20 times over for Rio and Brazil. Yes because the TV images would be stunning, the roads and venues would be in place, Pele would be smiling at the opening to the delight of billions. But also symbolically the games would mean so much to Brazil, so much more than to Chicago, Madrid or Tokyo, all cities in the developed world strangers to the challenges particular life in Brazil and so many other cities of the developing world. An Olympiad in South America is as long overdue as Brazil's emergence onto the world stage, let 2016 be the culminating event that makes up for lost time.