Quotulatiousness

July 25, 2014

Time capsule from the future – the end of the 2014 NFL season

Filed under: Football, Humour — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 07:37

I’ll admit that I’m optimistic about this year’s edition of the Minnesota Vikings, but I’m expecting the team to end up with a record somewhere in the region of 7-9, 8-8, or even 9-7 in head coach Mike Zimmer’s first season leading the team. I’m apparently among the minority of fans in this regard, as Vikefans.com have got their hands on a video that clearly just fell through a rip in spacetime, as it’s the pre-game show for this season’s SuperBowl game:

Somebody’s been drinking the acid-laced purple Kool Aid again…

H/T to Vikings Territory for the link.

June 22, 2014

“Draw Play” Dave on how Minnesota got the Super Bowl in 2018

Filed under: Business, Football, Humour — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 10:20

I probably don’t need to say that the Super Bowl is a big ticket item … that much must be clear even to people who don’t have any conscious awareness of the NFL. Part of the push for a new football stadium in Minnesota was the hope that the new stadium would allow Minneapolis/St. Paul to bid on (and hope to win) the competition to host the Super Bowl in the newly completed stadium. The NFL being what it is, this meant a lot of “sweeteners” had to be offered to entice the league up to the deep freeze of Minnesota in the middle of winter. (Full disclosure: I’ve never been to Minnesota in winter, so maybe I’m just being swayed by pro-winter propaganda, but I believe it gets a tad cooler in the land of the ten thousand frozen lakes than it does in, say, Miami.)

“Draw Play” Dave Rappoccio admits he’s a bit late to this story, but I rather liked it anyway:

Click to see the full cartoon

Click to see the full cartoon

Again, older news that I never got to, but deserved a joke.

Has anyone actually looked up the requirements for cities to host the Super Bowl? The NFL is shameless in how is screws cities over and I can’t believe cities sign up for it.

May 21, 2014

QotD: February in Minneapolis

Filed under: Football, Humour, Quotations — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:17

It’s not surprising that the Wilfs, the Vikings and downtown Minneapolis business leaders want the Super Bowl in Minneapolis. Their pockets will be lined, and with more than fur.

The question is why the average Minnesotan would want the Super Bowl here in February.

We don’t invite friends and relatives to Minnesota in February. Why would we invite the world?

Especially the portion of the world that wields laptops and cameras?

You remember February, unless your therapist has helped you block it out. February is when we suffer from cabin fever and cold sores, when we lock ourselves indoors with a fire (whether we have a fireplace or not) and stare at screens until our skin matches the blue fluorescent glow emanating from the TV.

And those are the good days.

I’ve spoken to visitors who are forced to travel here during winter. They ask why we live here. They laugh at us. When Jerry Seinfeld did a show in downtown Minneapolis this winter, he referred to our skyways as “Habitrails.”

The rest of the country cannot fathom why we put ourselves through this, and let’s be honest: We can’t either when we’re in the throes of winter. We all just pile on layers and pray that, this year, summer will fall on a Saturday.

Jim Souhan, “We’re back on center stage, with frozen warts and all”, Star Tribune, 2014-05-21.

Minnesota’s new stadium to host Super Bowl LII

Filed under: Business, Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 08:21

As I noted in an update to yesterday’s post on Bud Grant’s 87th birthday, the NFL has awarded the hosting rights for Super Bowl LII in 2018 to the Minnesota Vikings.

Minnesota - Home of Super Bowl LII

Pretty clearly, the winning edge during the bid process was the attraction of having a brand new stadium in which to hold the event, which is why even the 300th anniversary of the founding of New Orleans came in second in the bidding. (That, plus the fact that New Orleans has already hosted the Super Bowl ten times…)

At 1500ESPN.com, Judd Zulgad talks about the winning bid:

Depending on whom you listen to, the NFL’s decision to award 2018 Super Bowl to the Twin Cities on Tuesday is either going to bring great financial gain or it’s going to be a nuisance that’s not worth the time and money that will be spent to host the game.

Making the argument either way is easy.

It’s no different than the spin that was put on building the Xcel Energy Center, Target Field or the new Vikings stadium.

The pro-stadium folks point to the benefits of the venues, and the fact they either attract a team or keep one in town, and the anti-stadium groups rail on the amount of public money that is invested in building a playground for billionaire owners and millionaire athletes.

But what can’t be argued is this: Hosting events such as the Super Bowl, or this summer’s All-Star Game, are what make a city, and state, big league in the public eye.

Patrick Reusse, my colleague at 1500 ESPN and a longtime Star Tribune sports columnist, did a blog for the paper in 2013 that attempted to trace the use of the phrase, “a cold Omaha.”

Reusse wrote that Hubert Humphrey was credited with having said the Twin Cities would become “a cold Omaha” without the presence of major league sports. This dated to 1976, as the back-and-forth was picking up about the Vikings and Twins needing a new home to replace Metropolitan Stadium.

That new stadium, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, would open in 1982 and host numerous big events, including the 1992 Super Bowl, before meeting its demise this year.

As a Vikings fan, I’m delighted that the team’s new facility will be front-and-centre during the 2018 Super Bowl media blitz (although the non-football-fans among the taxpayers of Minnesota may be less than happy with how some of their tax dollars have been used to build a sports complex for billionaires to be used by millionaires). The optimists in Minneapolis may hope that 2018 will be the first time ever that the Super Bowl champions can be crowned in their own stadium, but that’s unlikely (not impossible, but it hasn’t happened yet).

Update: Speaking of optimists, here’s The Daily Norseman‘s Ted Glover, right on schedule.

After 40 plus years of pessimism and waiting for the other shoe to drop, it’s time to get positive about this team, the new coaching staff, the new stadium, Teddy Bridgewater, and hosting a Super Bowl. Why?

The stadium was dead in the water. Better luck next time, Minnesota. Maybe next year. Then not only wasn’t it dead, it passed in record time for a bill moving through the legislature.

The Vikings blew their chance to get a potential franchise quarterback in the draft, after they had an opportunity to get one early on. Better luck next time, Minnesota, maybe next year. Then Teddy Bridgewater fell in to their laps.

New Orleans was going to get that Super Bowl bid. Better luck next time, Minnesota. Maybe next year. Then they won. And oh yeah…FUCK THOSE GUYS.

Franchise changing moment, turning the corner, things looking up — use whatever phrase you want. I am of the belief that the events of the last couple of seasons (new stadium, new coach, last few drafts) are milestones in the history of this franchise, and twenty years from now, when we look back on it, we’ll look at these events and say:

“Here. It all started right here.”

May 19, 2014

Gillespie – Don’t let the FCC ruin the internet!

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Business, Government, Liberty, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 10:51

Nick Gillespie thinks that the uproar about net neutrality may end up with the worst of all possible solutions by letting the FCC control the internet:

Reports of the imminent death of the Internet’s freewheeling ways and utopian possibilities are more wildly exaggerated and full of spam than those emails from Mrs. Mobotu Sese-Seko.

In fact, the real problem isn’t that the FCC hasn’t shown the cyber-cojones to regulate ISPs like an old-school telephone company or “common carrier,” but that it’s trying to increase its regulatory control of the Internet in the first place.

Under the proposal currently in play, the FCC assumes an increased ability to review ISP offerings on a “case-by-case basis” and kill any plan it doesn’t believe is “commercially reasonable.” Goodbye fast-moving innovation and adjustment to changing technology on the part of companies, hello regulatory morass and long, drawn-out bureaucratic hassles.

In 1998, the FCC told Congress that the Internet should properly be understood as an “information service,” which allows for a relatively low level of government interference, rather than as a “telecommunication service,” which could subject it to the sort of oversight that public utilities get (as my Reason colleague Peter Suderman explains, there’s every reason to keep that original classification). The Internet has flourished in the absence of major FCC regulation, and there’s no demonstrated reason to change that now. That’s exactly why the parade of horribles — non-favored video streams slowed to an unwatchable trickle! whole sites blocked! plucky new startups throttled in the crib! — trotted out by net neutrality proponents is hypothetical in a world without legally mandated net neutrality.

Apart from addressing a problem that doesn’t yet exist, if you are going to pin your hopes for free expression and constant innovation on a government agency, the FCC is about the last place to start. For God’s sake, we’re talking about the agency that spent the better part of a decade trying to figuratively cover up Janet Jackson’s tit by fining Viacom and CBS for airing the 2004 Super Bowl.

February 2, 2014

Some of the Super Bowl commercials Canadians won’t see on TV

Filed under: Business, Football, Humour, Media — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:13

The audience for the Super Bowl is split between fans of the game (who actually care about the outcome) and fans of the ads (because this is the biggest TV audience, advertisers pull out all the stops and generally try to be genuinely funny). In Canada, thanks to our TV regulations, most of us will see the broadcast of the game itself, but we won’t see the same commercials as our US neighbours … we’ll get the same assortment of crummy ads they’ve been showing since the start of the season, with a few of the US ads as a “teaser”.

Fortunately for those who aren’t interested in the game itself, but like the commercials, the lead-up to the Super Bowl usually includes web release of many of the ads that will air during the broadcast. Here’s a selection put together by the Guardian, including a “behind the scenes” of an ad that won’t get shown … because it was never made:

Go behind the scenes of the Mega Huge Football Ad Newcastle Brown Ale almost made with the mega huge celebrity who almost starred in it. See more at http://www.IfWeMadeIt.com

The VW ad is rather amusing, too:

Story of the day – the invasion of the Super Bowl prostitute army

Filed under: Media, Sports — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:45

You’ll undoubtedly have heard that the New York and New Jersey area has been swamped with an invasion of sex workers (many of them under-aged) who have been trafficked into the area to “service” the fans in town for the Super Bowl. You’ll probably have heard the same thing about every major sporting event over the last few years. What you won’t have heard is any actual evidence that this really happened. That might be, as Maggie McNeill says, it’s a media myth:

Major events such as World’s Fairs and the Olympics always provide an excuse for governments to “clean things up” in the host cities before the guests arrive. Police sweep people the leaders consider undesirable, embarrassing or just plain unsightly out of public view (and into jails or exile for the duration). The victims vary with the time and place: the poor, the homeless, unpopular minority groups, drug addicts and gay people have all been among them. The list always includes sex workers; even in countries where prostitution is legal (such as Greece or Brazil) the moralists feel compelled to purge the most visible manifestations of the sex trade from areas where visitors might encounter them. Xenophobia is also heightened by such events, as those so predisposed fear the prospect of strangers coming to town, bringing with them outlandish and alien forms of sin and crime. Together, these two factors may be the origin of one of the stranger (yet more persistent) myths of our time: the idea that some Lost Tribe of Gypsy Harlots, tens of thousands strong, wanders about the world from mega-event to mega-event, unimpeded by the usual logistics of transport and lodging which should make the migration of such a large group a daunting task indeed.

The legend seems to have first appeared in conjunction with the 2004 Olympics in Athens. That’s telling because, though the rebranding of sex work as “sex trafficking” was already underway in prohibitionist circles in the late 1990s, the moral panic seems to have begun in earnest in January of 2004. In the months before the Olympics Athenian officials went through the usual cleansing procedure, raiding brothels for largely bogus violations of zoning restrictions. A Greek sex workers’ union complained that by making it difficult to work in legal brothels the city would increase illegal prostitution, and this was twisted by European prohibitionists into “Athens is encouraging sex tourism.”

By the end of the year, the growing “anti-trafficking” movement was using bad stats to claim that “sex trafficking increased by 95 percent during the Olympics.” Within a few months, anti-sex worker groups made the bizarre prediction that approximately 40,000 women would be “trafficked” into Germany for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Of course, nothing of the kind happened. Despite increased police actions (including raids on 71 brothels), the German authorities only came up with five cases of exploitation they believed to be linked to the event. The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, which closely investigated the myth in its 2011 report “What’s the Cost of a Rumour?”, was unable to find a credible source for the “40,000” figure; it seems to have simply been made up. But it has doggedly persisted since then, accompanying virtually every major sporting event including the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and the 2012 Olympics in London. Despite massive police crackdowns (costing about £500,000 in London), no significant increase in prostitution (coerced or otherwise) has ever been found during these large events.

Don’t forget your Super Bowl Bingo card

Filed under: Football, Humour, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:23

Super Bowl bingo

Update: Seattle, you’re drunk. Go home.

Seattle Super Bowl snack

February 1, 2014

The hand-egg championship, described

Filed under: Football, Humour, Media, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

Part of a continuing series of reporting American events in the way American media reports foreign events:

This Sunday, the eyes of millions of Americans will turn to a fetid marsh in the industrial hinterlands of New York City for the country’s most important sporting event — and some would say the key to understanding its proud but violent culture.

Despite decades of exposure to the outside world through trade and globalization, Americans have resisted adopting internationally popular sports like soccer, cricket, and kabaddi, preferring instead a complex, brutal, and highly mechanized form of rugby confusingly called football. (Except for in a couple of instances, feet do not touch the ball.)

The two finest teams from the nation’s 32 premier league squads meet each year in an event known as the Super Bowl. (There is in fact no bowl.) This year, the game pits a young upstart team from the Northwest Frontier Provinces against another from the mountainous interior region led by the aging scion of one of the sport’s most legendary families. The winner of the contest will claim the title of “world champion,” although very few people play the sport beyond the country’s national borders.

Although the rules are complex — this video [embedded below] offers a brief overview — in broad strokes the contest involves two large teams of large men wearing large amounts of protective padding attempting to move an oblong ball down a 91.44-meter field by either throwing it or running with it while their opponents attempt to knock them to the ground with maximum force.

January 29, 2014

YouTube‘s formative nine-sixteenths of a second

Filed under: Football, Media, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:19

Marin Cogan explains how less than a second of TV helped to trigger the development of YouTube:

You know what happens next. Justin reaches over, grabs a corner of Janet’s right breast cup and gives it a hard tug. Her breast spills out. It’s way more than a handful, but a hand is the only thing Janet has available to cover it, so she clutches it with her left palm. The breast is on television for 9/16 of a second. The camera cuts wide. Fireworks explode from the stage. Cue the end of halftime. Cue the beginning of one of the worst cases of mass hysteria in America since the Salem witch trials.

[…]

Michael Powell, then the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, was watching the game at a friend’s house in northern Virginia. He’s a football fan and was excited to relax and watch the game after a rough couple of weeks. “I started thinking, Wow, this is kind of a racy routine for the Super Bowl!” he says, his voice pitching up in bemusement. “He was chasing her kind of with this aggressive thing — not that I personally minded it; I just hadn’t seen something that edgy at the Super Bowl.”

Then it happened. Powell and his friend gave each other quizzical looks. “I looked and I went, ‘What was that?’ And my friend looks at me and he’s just like, ‘Dude, did you just see what I did? Do you think she … ?’ And I kept saying, ‘My day is going to suck tomorrow.'” Powell went home and watched the moment again on TiVo. The same thought kept running through his mind: Tomorrow is going to really suck, he remembers thinking. “And it did.”

[…]

Of course, our children and our children’s children will never need to dig up an actual time capsule to find out about the wardrobe malfunction. As soon as they hear about the time Janet Jackson’s breast was exposed on live TV, they’ll watch it online. And the reason they’ll watch it online is that in 2004, Jawed Karim, then a 25-year-old Silicon Valley whiz kid, decided he wanted to make it easier to find the Jackson clip and other in-demand videos. A year later, he and a couple of friends founded YouTube, the largest video-sharing site of all time.

February 12, 2013

The State of the Union address is the political version of the NFL’s Pro Bowl

Filed under: Football, Humour, Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 11:05

Jim Geraghty explains:

If you said to me, “let’s end the NFL Pro Bowl,” I’d probably disagree. Because while I haven’t watched a Pro Bowl in its entirety in decades, I’d hate to see a tradition end. But as any football fan will acknowledge, the Pro Bowl is a quasi-necessary event that is executed in a fundamentally flawed fashion. For starters, it occurs at the end of the season, instead of at the halfway point of the season like in other sports. This is because of players’ legitimate fear of injury in a game that has only pride on the line; as a result, everybody plays at about half-speed. Selected players decline to go, so you get the second, third, and sometimes fourth-best players at each position. The NFL moved it to the week before the Super Bowl, to make it less of an afterthought to the season, but now the players on teams in the Super Bowl skip the game.

My friends, the president’s State of the Union Address is our national pro bowl — a simulation of the art of persuasion and politics featuring all the big stars, played at about half speed, with no real consequence.

[. . .]

You’ll recall Matt Welch’s discovery from last year about just how interchangeable the rhetoric is:

    Starting with John F. Kennedy’s address to a joint session of Congress in 1961, you could take one sentence from each SOTU since, in chronological order, and cobble together a speech that will likely resemble much of what you’ll hear tonight. So that’s precisely what I’ve done.

Every president uses the event as just another speech, and avoids anything resembling a hard-nosed assessment of where they’ve made progress and where they need to improve their performance. What’s fascinating is the ritual news articles about drafts of the speech and previews, as if you or I couldn’t predict a half dozen points and themes. This is why we have State of the Union drinking games — because people can often predict the precise phrases, never mind the topics or arguments.

February 4, 2013

CBS Sports fumbles during SuperBowl blackout

Filed under: Football, Media — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:23

In the New York Daily News, Bob Raissman asks why CBS didn’t bother to do any actual “journalism” about the blackout:

The fans inside the Superdome were not the only ones left in the dark when half the building’s power went out in the third quarter of Super Bowl XLVII Sunday night. Viewers were left with unanswered questions as CBS Sports’ sideline reporters, and the rest of the cast, failed to go into a reporting mode.

There was no outrage, no questioning how a thing like this could happen on the NFL’s biggest night of the year.

At a time when they should have been aggressively gathering news, CBS’ crew was satisfied with the crumbs the NFL dropped on them. And they swallowed the scraps gladly. Not once during the 34-minute delay did a representative of the National Football League appear on camera to attempt to explain what caused half the Superdome to lose power. Why should they? No one from CBS put any pressure on them.

[. . .]

Think about it. CBS pays billions for the right to air NFL games. Much of that dough is shelled out to secure rights to the Super Bowl. So, on the big night, there is a major screwup and the NFL won’t put someone on the air — and CBS won’t push the league — to try to explain what’s going on? That’s mind-boggling.

But not quite as wacked as CBS’ laid-back approach to reporting this story, which will go down as one of the more unusual moments in Super Bowl history. All the players were on the field, waiting, stretching. Why not take a camera and microphone on the sidelines for an interview? If they blow you off, fine — at least viewers would have something worth watching.

A legal spectre is haunting the NFL

Filed under: Football, Health, Law, Media, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:12

In the wake of a vastly entertaining SuperBowl contest between the “San Francisco 50-1’ers”* and the “Baltimore Black Birds”*, Steve Chapman outlines the possibility that we won’t see too many more SuperBowl games:

Professional football is the most popular spectator sport in America, which is one reason yesterday’s Super Bowl was expected to draw 110 million viewers. With its famous athletes, storied franchises, and lucrative TV contracts, it’s an industry whose future appears limitless.

But football has a problem: the specter of mass brain damage among current and former players. So far, the steady trickle of disturbing revelations has had no apparent effect on ticket sales or TV ratings. What it has done, though, is more ominous: It has invited lawsuits.

If football falls into decline, it may not be the result of fans turning away, athletes avoiding it, or parents forbidding it. It may be from lawyers representing players who sustained chronic traumatic encephalopathy and expect to be compensated for the damage.

[. . .]

Walter Olson, a Cato Institute fellow, blogger (Overlawyered.com), and author of several books on liability, knows well how a tide of litigation can transform a landscape. And he has a bold prediction: “If we were to apply the same legal principles to football as we do to other industries, it would have to become extremely different, if not go out of business.”

“Seriously?” you may ask. A guy who made a good living engaging in high-speed collisions with 300-lb. blocks of granite can say he didn’t understand the risks involved? It may seem that case will be laughed out of court.

But Olson thinks not. “Courts have not been very friendly to this argument, particularly when something as grave as permanent brain damage is involved,” he told me. And it’s become apparent that while players were aware of the possibility of mangled knees, broken bones, and concussions, they didn’t grasp that repeated blows to the head could produce debilitating and irreversible mental harms.

* See the Samsung commercial in this post for explanation of the team names.

February 1, 2013

Nicely played, Samsung

Filed under: Business, Football, Humour, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:05

At Techdirt, Timothy Geigner tries to talk about something to do with football or advertising:

It’s almost that time of year again, when many of us lesser beings will gather together to watch super-human men on all manner of PEDs and deer antler urine sprays smack each other around while an oblong leather ball sits somewhere in the background. We’ll leap for the pizza and chili like salmon during mating season while, between whistles, obligatory commercials with Avatar-like production budgets glow at us. That’s right sports fans, it’s [editor redacted] time!

Wait, hey! What the hell? I said it’s [editor redacted] time! Oh, come on. I can’t say [editor redacted]? Fine, what about a euphemism, like [editor redacted]? No, can’t say that either? Maybe [editor redacted]? Damn it, this is stupid. I’m talking about something that rhymes with “Pooper Hole” (heh, got you, editor!).

Fortunately for our entertainment sensibilities, Samsung decided this year to combine a distaste for trademark stupidity and our concept of advertising being content in this gem of a spot.

July 26, 2012

Patrick Reusse: Stop being optimistic, Vikings fans

Filed under: Football, History — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 08:35

Getting up on the curmudgeonly side of the bed, Patrick Reusse explains why he does not understand the modern Viking fan with an optimistic viewpoint:

The age for sincere emotional involvement with a sports team is 12. Anyone whining over the result of a game before that is a crybaby destined to grow up with few friends.

Which means, if you were 12 on Jan. 11, 1970, the last cheery moment you had about the eventual fate of the Vikings came before that afternoon’s kickoff of the fourth-ever Super Bowl.

Minnesotans as a whole were never more certain of anything than that the Vikings’ magnificent defense would stifle the Kansas City Chiefs and provide a pro football championship in only the third season of Bud Grant’s coaching tenure.

The final was Kansas City 23, Vikings 7. A couple of months later, NFL Films released a highlight tape from the game, complete with Chiefs coach Hank Stram cackling and ridiculing the Vikings throughout his team’s decisive upset.

It was a wound that never healed for Vikings fans that were at least 12 that day, and are now 54, older, or dead.

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