World Cup of Indicators

Wall Street Journal has an interesting interactive graphic showing various world cup tournament scenarios based on broad national indicators (mostly percentages).

Nigeria apparently the cup home for most agricultural land and fastest population growth, Japan claims the trophy for most seafood consumed and lowest murder rate, while Ghana comes out tops for highest education spending, percentage of protestants and hottest weather. Not suggesting any correlations here of course.

Global development: it’s a beautiful game.

 

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Reading about the Olympics…

You know the GP essay question about sport is never really about sport itself, but about the many issues surrounding it and its function or purpose for society. With the ongoing London Olympics, sport comes packaged as a global spectacle celebrating the epitome of human strength and spirit for all the world to see, to applaud, to criticize. Here are some articles I’ve read on the games so far that might be worth a look:

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Paradoxical Sponsorships…

I once remarked to a friend how it was only on earth that one could find a fast food chain actively sponsoring a global sport event like the Olympics. Well I guess some people feel the same way too about the ironic mutualism of it all…

UK doctors blast McDonalds’ Olympic sponsorship

LONDON – McDonald’s is a sponsor for the London Olympics – and a British doctors’ group says that is sending the wrong message in a country with ballooning obesity.

Big Macs, fries and milkshakes will be part of McDonald’s exclusively branded menu at the Olympics and the fast-food giant will soon be opening its largest franchise in the world, a two-story cathedral-like restaurant that seats 1,500 customers, at London’s Olympic Park. McDonald’s will be the only restaurateur allowed to sell brand-name food at the Games and there will also be a separate McDonald’s within the Athletes Village – in addition to three others at the Olympic Park.

Alongside McDonald’s, Coca-Cola has the exclusive right to sell non-alcoholic drinks at Olympic venues. Heineken has been named the Games’ official beer.

“It’s very sad that an event that celebrates the very best of athletic achievements should be sponsored by companies contributing to the obesity problem and unhealthy habits,” said Mr Terence Stephenson, a spokesman for the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges. The group is calling upon the British government to restrict advertising by McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Heineken during the Olympic Games, which are being held in London from July 27 to Aug 12.

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F1: Keep or Throw?

Is F1 race really worth having?
by Terrence Voon of The Straits Times (original link here

THE floodlights are going into storage, the roads have re-opened, and the grass around Marina Bay, trodden by over 200,000 fans over three days, will be replanted.

The curtain has fallen on Singapore’s Formula One showpiece, which, for the fourth year running, has been a stunning visual and organisational coup for the nation. The only question is, how long will it be here for?

The answer depends on whether the dollars still make sense for Singapore.

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Suit Up!

From AFP:

SHANGHAI: Swimming will try to bury the infamous super-suits era at the Shanghai world championships but a lack of new records will provide a constant reminder of the fiasco.

While polyurethane-clad swimmers broke a whopping 43 world records at the 2009 edition in Rome, astonishing even themselves, athletes clad in traditional gear may set only a couple – or none at all – in the Chinese metropolis.

The stark fact is that since the suits – designed to help buoyancy and support certain muscles, making it easier to swim faster for longer – were outlawed at the start of 2010, not one long-course record has fallen.

So how is technology affecting sports? We all know the benefits of shoes with better padding for running, stopwatches for accurate timings, equipment for increased safety, television for enhanced viewing and so on (simple list available here) But what happens when adoption of some of these technologies indirectly challenge the fairness, the spirit and ethic of the game?

The textile swimsuit is one example–a saga almost imaging the world of swim sport to the formula one where both man and machine, athlete and apparel, compete

What are your thoughts on technology playing an increasingly bigger role in sports today? How do we manage its role? 

Odds are, the ball is round…

Sorry I’m not letting sports off the hook just yet. Here’s an interesting BBC feature report that sort of got me thinking: is gambling really such an endemic part of human nature? Every time there is a big sporting event, you can be sure a gambling market will quickly bubble under all the hype–big money speculation seems to follow spectacle wherever it goes.

Interestingly, the article reacts to the regular post world cup gambling raids by pointing out how one should

…not take them too seriously. It is not that individual policemen are necessarily corrupt, but it does mean that, overall, an elaborate game is being played out for everyone’s benefit.

Such raids almost seem ritualistic but it is hard to really deny that many parties do benefit. The policemen get a chance to ‘do something’ while punters and bookies still walk away with a little fine here or puny jail term there–a small price to pay for the millions that circulate from the betting.

Do you think gambling is built into our very DNA?
Why do you think humans love to gamble (and yet love to nobly claim that it is a vice as well)?
What is it about sports that lends it so easily to the gambling industry?