A brainstorm on mixing pro and elite amateurs

A unique problem for U.S. soccer, on both the women’s and men’s sides, is that the vast majority of good players between the ages of 18 and 22 are busy with college soccer from August to December. Then they’re in school (and playing unmarketed tournaments) until May. That leaves a narrow window for those players to participate in any league on the American soccer pyramid — the PDL, the NPSL, the WPSL and the W-League. They have to wrap up early to get their players back to school. (On a related note, congratulations to the league champions determined this weekend — … Continue reading A brainstorm on mixing pro and elite amateurs

2012 weightlifting: Only the strong survive

We simply can’t write about weightlifting without calling in this classic Saturday Night Live bit:

A sport that measures sheer strength at its core does indeed provide temptation to cheat. But the 30 reported doping incidents in 2009 (see PDF) are still less than the number reported in, say, cycling. These folks know the rules.

Asia is the hotbed for this sport these days. China won nine medals at home in 2008, Russia took seven, and South Korea, Kazakhstan and Belarus combined for 10.

World Championships are held in every non-Olympic year, so we have 2010 results to check out now while we await the 2011 edition in November.

But rankings in weightlifting are the most objective in any Olympic sport. They’re not based on points from various competitions. They’re based on how much weight someone lifted. Whether the athlete lifted that much weight in a World Championship or smaller competition doesn’t really matter. It’s still the same weight. Even track and field has a few variables, such as wind and temperature, that affect an athlete’s times and distances.

So we’ll make these projections really simple. The sole basis will be the 2010 rankings. And we’ll come back and re-check after the World Championships in 2011.

It’s just that simp … wait … it’s not? Each country can only nominate 10 athletes, two per event? Six men, four women.

Grrrrrr. OK, we’ll try to bear that in mind. And naturally, it’ll be relevant — China won 11 medals at Worlds.

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MLS All-Stars, overreaction and reaction

Hysterical overreaction is as much a part of the Internet as inappropriate photos and conspiracy theories. Given that, I’m a little surprised I haven’t heard today from the dude who kept Tweeting at me last week about MLS “fixing” games by playing reserves in the second half … of friendlies. Oh no, it couldn’t be a prudent decision to rest starters and give reserves some experience in a game that won’t count in the standings. It’s a crime. The Internet is noisy. After any event that draws hype, many people will sound off. And just as the UFC survives to … Continue reading MLS All-Stars, overreaction and reaction

2012 taekwondo: Slightly more violent than Riverdance

Hop, hop, hop, hop, KICK, hop, hop, hop, KICK, hop, hop, hop, hop, hop, hop, hop, hop, hop, hop …

It’s a curiously constrained combat sport, and it has gone through some changes recently. The new scoring system (see the rules PDF) gives 1 point for a punch or kick to the chest, 2 points for a “turning” kick to the chest, 3 for a kick to the head and 4 for a “turning” kick to the head.

They’re also wearing sensors on their feet and chest, making the sport resemble fencing with feet.

All of this is on display in this clip of a dramatic and controversial comeback in the 2011 World Championships, in which a Spanish fighter controls the bout until a Chinese fighter lands a 3-point head kick (or so they say) with three seconds left.

Ready for some more complications? Check out the qualification system, in which the sport offers four weight classes per gender but forces countries to pick two in which to enter. And that’s whittled down from the eight weight classes per gender offered in World Championship and world rankings. South Korea, the Chinese women and the Iranian men will have tough choices.

To keep things simpler here, I’m just linking to the World Championship results page and the June 2011 rankings, and I’m not going to show as much of my “work” as usual.

That’ll reduce the confidence level in these projections, though we know that South Korea (4 for 4 in 2008) is a solid favorite in whichever classes the country chooses. The USA, thanks in large part to the Lopez family, also has solid medal chances throughout.

Note that we have two bronze medals per weight class:

Continue reading “2012 taekwondo: Slightly more violent than Riverdance”

2012 tennis/table tennis: Who’s your Venus?

The big news for 2012 tennis: Mixed doubles is in! But only in tennis, not table tennis. Seems a little unfair, really.

TENNIS

They’ll play on grass at Wimbledon, so we’ll let this summer’s results from that hallowed venue weigh heavily in the projections. That said, we have little idea which players will view the Olympics worthy of their participation.

The tournament will be included in the ATP and WTA points races, so that may sway some people.

Continue reading “2012 tennis/table tennis: Who’s your Venus?”

Euro envy continues

I’ve been exploring a few Net radio options these days, and I settled upon UK station talkSPORT yesterday to catch this exchange in a free-wheeling discussion of international sports: CALLER: My daughter’s a swimmer, though she’s at the bottom right now. HOST: Well she’ll have to get to the surface to be any good. This was after the two hosts concluded that Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde were the first two people we should guess when asked who said something particularly witty. It’s a little disappointing that talkSPORT’s site says it’s aimed toward “men who love to talk sport.” A few … Continue reading Euro envy continues