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XP PSP Podcast episodes 18-20

May 4, 2015 Leave a comment

To catch up on the latest 3 episodes of XP PSP: the eXPat Pro Sports Podcast that I fell behind on posting, have a look at the episode summaries and links below for episodes 18-20 — and take a listen while you’re at it!

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Episode 18 – Guest: Bernie Nicholls, 19 season NHL veteran, 3 time all-star.

BernieASMBernie and I discussed the All Sports Market Free App (the new sports stock market app Bernie is helping develop and promote), the world of sports gambling and what sports are easiest/most difficult to fix, the LA Kings waiving Mike Richards and whether we will see him in the NHL again, Bernie’s thoughts on the Slava Voynov legal situation, who the Kings should trade for prior to the NHL trade deadline to hopefully improve their chances of making the playoffs, why he engages social media more so than many older generation athletes, whether he wants to resume coaching in the NHL again, and a whole bunch more.

Link: http://xppsp.podbean.com/e/xp-psp-e18-bernie-nicholls-returns/

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/xp-psp-e18/id643817929

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Episode 19 – Guest: Jim Paek, first Korean born hockey player to both play in the NHL, and win the Stanley Cup. Current head coach for the South Korean national hockey team.

jimpaekpicJim and I spoke about how he’s perceived in Korea’s hockey community and his desire to improve hockey in his home nation, the freedom he has to make team decisions, his Korean skills, the language barrier, and how he works through communication issues on the team, the use of foreign born naturalized players to better South Korea’s chances and the pros and cons of that approach, the pressure and expectations for the national team that his resume brings, how the team can compete against the world’s best nations in 2018 while currently ranked two divisions down from their level and the fairness of them being in the tournament, how hard it was to make it to the NHL as a Korean and how he got there, playing with Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky, playing under Scotty Bowman and working with Mike Babcock, what he learned from them, returning to the NHL as a coach, juggling being a husband and parent while being continents away from his family, and he makes a verbal commitment to help hockey in Jeju continue to grow!

Link: http://xppsp.podbean.com/e/xp-psp-e19-jim-paek/

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/xp-psp-e19/id643817929

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Episode 20 – Guest: Aleksandar Jovanović, defender for Jeju United FC (K-League soccer in Korea).

AleksAleks and I discuss him playing on a team where virtually no one else speaks English and other cultural challenges of living/playing in Korea, the performance expectations placed upon import players, how the K-League stacks up against other pro soccer leagues, how many languages he speaks, Jeju United’s recent coaching change and what they need to do to become a Asian Cup qualifying team this season, his goals and aspirations for the team and himself this year, and lots more.

Link: http://xppsp.podbean.com/e/xp-psp-e20-aleksandar-jovanovic-jeju-united-fc-defender/

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/xp-psp-e20/id643817929

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Podcast homepage: http://xppsp.podbean.com/

Download XP PSP on iTunes

Is the World Cup worth it? Infographic lets you be the judge.

July 7, 2014 Leave a comment

With the 2014 FIFA World Cup now whittled down to its semi-finals,  and Brazil, Germany, Netherlands, and Argentina ready to square off against each other to see who will play for soccer’s richest prize, it seems like a good time to evaluate whether the tournament has been worth what Brazil paid to get it. The hosts were (and always are, not unlike Olympic hosts) heavily criticized for their expenditures a midst troubling economic times for its citizens — especially considering that hosts get very little money back at tournament’s end,  or over the long term.

The folks at 188betblog.com have made an infographic showing the costs that many host countries paid for past World Cups, and the returns the event created for both the host and FIFA. You’ll be interested to know how expensive it is,  and you may even start questioning whether hosting the World Cup is actually worth it in the long run or not — if you weren’t already prior to seeing this evidence.
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WorldCup infographicThe 2014 World Cup is one of the biggest international sports events of the year, rivaling the Winter Olympics in Sochi held in February.  The World Cup is a celebration of football, a sport beloved by millions — if not billions — of fans from all corners of the world.

Fans are embracing the World Cup, but FIFA and other tournament organizers were concerned about the costs spent preparing for the tournament.  Many of the costs were tied up in stadium construction or investments in infrastructure.  On the flip side, the work stimulated thousands of jobs for the national economy.

But do those costs pay off over the long term? Economists predict Brazil will spend at least £8.6 billion ($14.5 billion), with some experts predicting the cost could even double that estimate.

If the total cost is finalized at the minimum projection, the bill will still be astronomically above the tabs for previous World Cup tournaments.  For example, South Africa spent approximately £2.6 billion ($4.5 billion) on the 2010 World Cup – only a fraction of the projected costs for Brazil.

What’s more concerning for the Brazilian economy is that history is not a comforting guide.  According to International Business Times, South Africa made back only 11 percent on a £2.6 billion ($4.5 billion) investment to host the 2010 World Cup – falling far short of initial estimated profits.

The same post mentions Brazil’s plans to bring home approximately £6.5 billion ($11 billion) in revenue from the 2014 World Cup.  Even if Brazil hits that goal, the revenue will still fall short of making back all the money invested into hosting the tournament.

The cost vs. benefit debate dates back to previous World Cups as well, with many experts questioning if hosting the World Cup is in a country’s best economic interests.  As costs and expectations continue rising with each passing year, is the payoff to host the World Cup really worthwhile?

Look Soccer, We Have to Talk….

June 23, 2010 14 comments

Look soccer, I tried.  I tried really hard to like you, and to even fall for you.  On your grandest stage of all, the World Cup, I’ve kept up to date on highlights, tried to get a feel for who’s good and who’s not, forced myself to watch “The Footy Show”, and in the end, I hate to break it to you but….I’m just not that into you. 

I’ll stand by my earlier claims that I respect the abilities of the top players in the game, and thoroughly enjoy playing the game; but as far as sitting at home at watching on TV, I’m going to have to pass. 

I feel like this point has been beaten to death over the years, but you guys gotta score more goals.  Scoring = excitement in all sports, 100% of the time.  I can’t pretend to be riveted to the action of another “nil-nil” scoreless draw.  As I’ve previously iterated, Your game features THE BIGGEST NET IN SPORTS, so someone fill that net already, especially in a tournament that allows you to pick up extra points in the standings for your team’s “Goals For”, in addition to wins, losses, and draws.  Oh yeah, by the way, points for a tie?  Isn’t this the playoffs?  There are no ties allowed in the playoffs of any sport, I thought this was unilaterally understood.  Someone win the freaking game already, you only get to compete every 4 years in this tournament, so go make your mark, don’t just be happy to be there.

And can someone please tell us, definitively, how much time is actually left in the game? 90 minutes is clearly not 90 minutes.  I think the whole injury time thing is a good idea; recouping all the time the divers have wasted, plus the legitimate stoppages.  But why does the referee have to keep this seemingly arbitrary number of game extension time so secret?  Why can’t it be displayed on the clock with the rest of the time; or even better, why can’t you just stop the clock all together for said stoppages??

It’s possible that because Canada sucks at soccer didn’t qualify for the tournament nor will they ever, I am less enthused about the whole event.  On a side note though, I heard you’ve been screwing the American team, so you’ve got that going for you; keep it up, you’ll win Canadians over yet.  After spending a year in South Korea, I’ve found myself rooting for them a bit; also for the home South Africans because of friends we have there, and for the old standby’s of Brazil, Italy, and England.  Wasn’t France supposed to be good too?  But after a while, you realize there’s like a bazillion teams (well, 32) competing, and that just seems like such an obtuse number of squads competing at once.  Can’t you just narrow down the field a bit more before calling the tournament?  I mean, you’ve had 4 years to whittle down the numbers, it’s not like you were short on time or anything…   

I feel like comparing your game to China; in that we’ve been hearing for years now that China is going to take over the world in all aspects, and we’d all better learn to speak Chinese or we’ll all be screwed and have no future.  I’ve been hearing how soccer is the most popular sport in the world (probably true, in the global sense) and how it’s eventually going to be all the rave in North America.  Well, bad news for both hopefuls – I’m getting tired of waiting, and the language I’ve been speaking and the sports I’ve been playing all my life seem just fine they way they are (If China wins the World Cup, I’ll sign up for Mandarin classes).

I’ll give you one thing though, I DO like those vuvuzelas.  Seriously, I think they’re great.  I’m not sure if they’re an African thing or not, but if they are, no one should be saying a thing about banning them.  If that’s a cultural thing, let it be.  They sing during games in Europe, let them blow horns in Africa; why is this worth so many people getting angry about, and people having to invent software to edit them out of broadcasts?  I think it adds a unique flavour to the tournament.

I resolve to continue to be a casual soccer fan.  I’ll probably watch the final, and the odd highlight package, but don’t expect much more from me.  Unless they give all the players sticks.  And they let the players bodycheck.  And they pour water on the field and freeze it.  When those things happen, let me know, and we’ll talk.  Until then…..

A Memo To Soccer People (if you play, watch, or like sports, please read).

September 18, 2009 12 comments

 

who, would you say, is more entitled to a celebration, if they score?

who, would you say, is more entitled to a celebration, if they score?

Dear Soccer People,

 

So you’ve got the most popular sport globally, soccer (football for the purists).  Though I doubt the research sometimes, I’ve heard the stat so many times I guess there’s got to be some truth to it.  You sell-out stadiums every night, and sometimes you riot because you’re into it so deep.  You got passion, I dig that. 

Your game doesn’t differ conceptually that much from similiar sports (get the ______ in the other team’s ______ ), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t tough.  Playing some pick-up soccer myself has re-inforced this to me.  If you haven’t noticed by now, just because the pro’s on TV in ANY sport make it look easy, doesn’t mean you can do it that well in your half-time beer-and-smoke-break league.  Just like any sport, it takes a lot of skill and effort to be any good at soccer.  Minus the diving.  

BUT still, with all that being said, please soccer players… if you listen to only one thing I say in this whole blog, let it be this:

  Your sport contains THE BIGGEST NET IN SPORTS. 

I realize that goals in soccer come on an average of 2 or 3 a month, but just because you finally punted that borderline beach-ball size of inflated rubber into netting which could corral a beluga whale, past the guy with no over-sized padding, does NOT mean your backflip is warranted.  Hey, scoring is cool, heck it’s one of the best feelings there is to feel.  But honestly, the fewer airplane spins and power knee-slides I see, the better.  I don’t, for one

I'm a professional athlete.  They pay me money to act like this.

I'm a professional athlete. They pay me money to act like this.

second, approve of the baby thumb-sucking celebration i’ve seen on a few occasions.  Also why do soccer players feel the need to rip off their jerseys when they score a big goal?  That jersey is a sense of pride in most sports.  The difference between hockey players and soccer players is that while soccer players don’t want their jerseys on and rip them off, hockey players grab their crest and shake it like a polaroid they’re so happy to have it on their chest.  Some hockey teams will actually fine their players for letting their jerseys touch the floor in the dressing room they’re so serious about respecting the uniform.

Scoring in hockey is unbelievably tough at the top levels.  The net is small, and most goaltenders are large humans to begin with, AND THEN they put on their pads, filling in and spilling over any “holes” that may have previously been present; likening your scoring chances to moustaches ever being actually, really, cool again.  You gotta be really good to pull either situation off.  So hockey goals deserve a big celly (celebration), but even the rockpiles (rookies) know not to go too far.  Fist pump: yes.  Stick ride: No. Ice duster with a follow-up pumper-nickle: time and a place.  Canoe paddle: Don’t bother suiting up next game.

Football players gotta grind those TD’s out.  There’s some big, bad mamma-jamma’s out there that really don’t want you in their end.  There’s some huge meathead football players, but even the best teams have a tough time getting it in field goal range against a defensive line named after large kitchen appliances.  So Terrell, I say flap your wings.  Throw the grenades and blow your team up.  Dirty bird, get derrrty.  You’ve earned it.

Basketball is well aware that even though they have the smallest net in team sports, it’s just not that big of a challenge when the telephone-pole sized players can literally start placing the ball in the net for over 100 points a game.  Even the dunkers are aware of the frequency of conversion.  Rarely do you see a basket celebration, and with good reason.

So soccer players, in conclusion, I enjoy your game, but never forget NO ONE IN SPORTS HAS A BIGGER NET THAN YOU. 

 The only exception I will allow to this rule is the header goal, or that bicycle kick.  These might be the toughest goals in sports to score, and to that I say climb the goal post and pick the coconuts for all I care, you deserve it.     Hopefully my British friends haven’t disowned me.  Remember, I’m not attacking soccer as a whole, just the over-sensationalized celebrations to goal size ratio, that’s all.  Just keep it all in perspective.  This is all I ask.

 

Koreans do a poor Chinese impression: The Acupuncture Story.

August 4, 2009 8 comments

(orginally posted February 9th, 2009)

So, my right ankle is not that well off from fracturing my growth plate in grade 9 after coming down from a spike in a volleyball game onto John Herron’s foot. Also, I (speculatively) inherited my grandmother’s ankles, who was just recently told by her doctor that her ankle was worn out and couldn’t be fixed. All that to say, sometime this past summer (2008) I was playing on my rec-league once-a-month Korean soccer team, and I turned my ankle pretty good. It was in rough shape, but I managed to walk it off, and finish the game. The next day it had doubled in size and tripled in colors.

I showed to our school’s director, who offered to take me to the hospital. Now, from experience, this is generally nothing more than a job for Rest Ice Compression Elevation (RICE, if you will); nothing I haven’t encountered plenty of times before. But I figured, whatever, maybe get an x-ray just in case, see what’s going on in there. So off we went the next day to what turned out not to be a hospital at all. In the car, I was informed that I was now being taken to a Chinese Acupuncture clinic. Suprisingly, I didn’t have a problem with this, as I was now picturing extremely relaxed people lying face down in bed at a spa with a bunch of needles in their back, and all the combined surface area pain overloading the brain’s pain sensors, and cancelling itself out. I thought, ok, maybe this could be alright, lets see how they roll over here, maybe they know something North Americans don’t about healing. It was only a few bucks anyways, and I had always been intrigued by acupuncture.  I truly had no idea what I had got myself into.  

I was ushered into the little consultation room to have some sort of assessment that I didn’t understand because it was all being spoken in Korean. Next I was instructed to head to the next, smaller room, and sit on the table dressed in the butcher paper. After some more Korean conversation, things got underway in a hurry. The doctor grabbed my left hand (I remind you, the injury was my right ankle), and promptly inserted a 2-3″ needle into my flesh, right around my scaphoid (where your thumb meets your hand), twisted it around, told me, in my best translation, to “chill.” He then trodded off on his doctorly way. So there I am, by myself, with a huge needle in my hand, not moving because I’m frightened of stabbing my inner hand somewhere, and absorbing all the pain possible that comes with having ONE needle jammed into you, rather than the above mentioned multiples, and also chuckling a little to myself over the complete absurdity of what was happening to me. You can imagine what was going through my mind. Also, the doctor did come back occasionally to twist and turn the needle to and fro, and to send it in deeper, while I sent my incisors deeper into my right knuckles. Did I mention my RIGHT ankle was hurt, and there was a needle in my LEFT….THUMB??!!?? Eventually, 10 or 15 minutes passed, and the doc removed the needle, which seemed to have ended up about 4-5″ in there now. I thought the insanity was over. I was wrong.

I was then told through translation to lie down and the doctor grabbed my actual ankle. I thought, ok, he’s actually going to do something directly to it now. I was right. Moments later, a device surfaced that I can only describe as a stabbing gun. It was a glue gun shape, and there was one, or maybe seven needles sticking out of the end. My wonder had very little time to evolve to fear as my swollen ankle was promptly STABBED approximately 20 times in 10 seconds with said puncturing device. I’m going to need stitches in my knuckles at this point. There was so much shock running through me that I was seriously laughing at how comical it was was, perhaps a defence mechanism against the pain. After the aerating of my ankle was complete, they wheeled in another device; this time a vaccuum-sucker-pump of sorts (these are all technical medical terms I don’t expect you to be familiar with), which is then applied to my wounds, and the blood, now leaking from the holes, was sucked out for a few minutes. They eventually took it off me and told me to stand up, and that they were finished. They asked me how I felt, and I said, “Good,” only in hopes of concluding the visit. I made my way to the front counter to sign something, and they said, “Ok, see you tomorrow!” Well, my mouth said yes, but my mind broke out in hysterics. I grabbed a candy from the dish, and got out of there, as quick as conditions were allowing me. I did not go back the next day.

Also, on the topic of the title, Koreans make bad chinese food.

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