Here comes the Putin Olympics

So the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are set to begin very shorty.

One wonders how the International Olympic Committee even allowed Russia [as well as others] to host the Olympics. Consider the following:

  • The weather is above zero constantly. True, many events are in doors or in the mountains but Sochi even has a beach. Will Sochi have some lack of snow issues like they had in Vancouver? [They could have been the first Winter Olympics to have beach volleyball!]
  • Islamic extremist from Dagestan, Chechnya and other areas threatening with terrorist strikes. In fact, those areas aren’t too far from Sochi – almost at the edge of what some would call a war zone. In fact some athletes are coming to the Olympics but without their families.
  • The Putin government has implemented anti-gay [or LGBT] laws that are borderline draconian. A “Pride House” was banned by the Putin government. Adults can’t really mention LGBT issues to children or fear about getting arrested.
  • Recently, an environmental activist was arrested for swearing. Something tells me they just wanted the activist away from Sochi. He was jailed for 15 days. Hmmm. He’ll be released just about the time the games end.
  • Other lengthy jail terms for what would be considered lighter crimes [such as Pussy Riot or the “Greenpeace 30”] where those sentenced were placed in brutal gulags in northern Russia or just nasty prisons that make some US prisons look like a luxury resort.
  • There is an authorized protest zone but far far away from the Olympic venues.

You though it could get as bad but future Olympics locations include Qatar [where workers are working under near slave conditions] and South Korea [where some dislike human rights abuses].

So is the IOC picking sites because nobody else want to pay for or host the games?

The final audited price for the Vancouver games was $1.84 million. When awarded the Olympics, the Russians estimated the games would cost $12 billion. The estimated price for Sochi is already estimated around $51 billion [which includes extra security] but I’m sure a nice chunk is corruption related. The Russian government claims that the actual price tag is in line with the original estimate and the remainder was for upgrades that would of happened anyways. Ya. Right. Maybe $35+ billion in upgrades to Sochi over 7 years [the time since the games were awarded]. On the other hand, Sochi is like a playground for the rich.

Of course we will probably never know. I’m sure the Putin government will give doctored results.

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Lawsuit by hockey player’s family has little merit

About 2 years ago, hockey player Derek Boogaard died from an overdose of painkillers.

If you follow one story, he was an NHL just to fight other players. The New York Rangers were paying him $1.6 million a year to do so – way more than a good chunk of the NHL players do and especially for a guy who will spend more time in the penalty box [and maybe on the injury list] than most players.

His family is suing the National Hockey League claiming that they should have done more to prevent Boogaard’s brain injuries and his addiction to pain killers.

Just like the National Football League, the [ex-]NHL players are coming out of the woodwork complaining about various ailments related to concussions. They say that the NHL should have responded sooner.

Boogaard knew he signed his contract that had just one job and one job only – to fight other goons in the NHL [while it is probably not worded in his contract I am sure he was informed as well as his agent, his family, etc.]. He wasn’t there to score or anything else.

Anyone who plays hockey [and for that matter football] know that there is a risk of getting a concussion and it increases if you are the team’s designated goon. He knew that when he signed the contract. Concussions didn’t start to appear last year. They have been known for years.

Take the NHL to court? For what? Something he and his family already knew? He could of quit the game or maybe told his coach that he doesn’t want to fight. It was his choice. Was he pressured? Maybe. But it was still his choice. They could of said, fight or lose your job. Making $1.6 million a year is no pocket change. For the typical person, that is about 20 years of a good salary. And he played for a number of seasons.

As for the pill aspect, the story goes that he was playing for the Minnesota Wild where he had more than 40 prescriptions for 1,023 pills. If so, why go after the NHL when it was Minnesota Wild that probably started his drug addiction. Take them to court. Looks like there is some incompetency with the doctors there.

While it is too bad that he died, the Boogaard is at least partially to blame. The Minnesota Wild could also be blamed. In fact, NHL players [like any professional sport] have physicals prior to the season begins at training camp. Surely between the physical as well as seeing anything “odd” in his well-being or behaviour during would have raised a few alarm bells. Or how about his family? Surely if his mood or behaviour was different, wouldn’t they notice it as well? With recent issues related to cracking down on using illegal substances, you would figure testing of various drugs would be included.

Like any life insurance [and assuming here], the insurance isn’t paid out if death is from a suicide. I may be wrong here but since the estate can’t get any money from the insurance, the estate lawyers are going after the NHL with this law suit.

NFL players take league to court – good luck

Former NFL players are trying to sue the league over concussion-linked injuries argued in court that the NFL “glorified” violence and profited from damaging hits to the head that the players suffered over the years. The players’ lawyer also accused the league of concealing the emerging science about concussions over several decades.

About 4,200 of the league’s 12,000 former players have joined the litigation. Some are battling dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, as well as other issues such as depression. They say the league is at fault for rushing them back on the field after concussions. Some have committed suicide with claims the suicide were related to the injuries.

The NFL insisted that teams are chiefly responsible for health and safety under the players’ collective bargaining agreement, along with others. [So you have the players blaming the league who are sort of blaming the teams. Nice.]

The judge is not expected to rule for several months, and the cases will take years to play out if the judge’s ruling is appealed when handed down.

While I think it is a bad situation for the players, you have to wonder about the following:

  • Why isn’t the player’s union going after the high schools, colleges and universities? Surely some head related injuries occurred at those places. In fact, professional teams can probably diagnose head injuries better than most schools because they can afford to get better medical help. Some injuries probably started in these schools but got worse when they turned “pro”. Can a high school that can barely function afford to have their player’s checked for a concussion.
  • Football [like hockey] is a contact sport. It is very unlikely you can have a full career and not get injured from something. As many players are running at opposing players at high speed, the helmets from both players will eventually meet [if not getting hit when a bunch of players land on a player]. They knew this from the time they started to play football.
  • You have the player’s union blaming the league who in turn is blaming the teams. The teams hired medical staff. The medical staff would give the “ok” to play again. But I’m sure many players shouldn’t of played immediately because some of them may still have not been healed completely but played for various reasons [money, like the “rush”, etc.].

Did you boycott hockey yesterday?

Well, did everyone get their fix?

NHL hockey is back. Were there any boycotting? Judging by the fans reactions, I doubt it.

At least some of the Canadian clubs offered some freebees or discounts such as food, free tickets and clothing.

While some have tried to push for some form of boycotts, I guess at least in Canada, hockey still reigns. It’s almost a religion [and probably in Montreal it probably is a religion – no wonder why attendance in the city’s churches is low!].

I suspect in certain US cities like Nashville, Tampa, and Phoenix, people couldn’t care less that hockey is back. Why on earth are they there – except from Commissioner Gary Bettman’s insistence. There are northern cities such as Hamilton, Seattle and Quebec City which would accept NHL quite easily.

A tentative NHL deal – will the fans return?

So, there is a tentative deal between the NHL owners and the NHL players association after a 16-hour mediated session starting on Saturday.

The puck will begin to drop either on January 15th but most likely January 19th for a 48 game schedule.

The question will be whether or not the fans will come back. Sure the die-hard ones [such as my nephews and niece] will be watching. But I think they lost many of the casual fans as well as those that just got into the game.

If ratified by both sides, the good thing is that it will give 10 years of labor piece [and hopefully Gary Bettman will be gone by the time they have to negotiate for the next labor contract.

Now they have to figure out all the small things like how this would affect the television contracts.

Although, I doubt they would do it at this time [as the owners would object], as I said before, kill off the first round of the playoffs for this year. This would add about 8 games to the season.

Well, at least ushers, food stands, near-by sports stores, and others can finally get their jobs back.

No hockey season? Do we care?

Well, about 40% of the NHL hockey season is gone. Today would have been the day when the Detroit Red Wings would of played the Toronto Maple Laughs in the annual Winter Classic in front of an estimated 100,000 people in a stadium around Detroit.

Instead, there is none because of the strike/lockout.

Really, I don’t care who is to blame. Overpaid hockey players who whine about small things or greedy owners who complain about losing money [well a few of them] but play in non-hockey markets like Tampa, Phoenix, and Nashville.

If there are those in the cities I mentioned who are reading this and the other usual suspects, they are not hockey towns. Heck. They don’t even get snow – or very limited. Commissioner Gary Bettman would do anything to expand the NHL into the US, even in areas that don’t really have much of a fan base. Meanwhile, two major Canadian cities that could keep a team running – Hamilton and Quebec City – are denied any franchises – either new or relocation from US cities.

I’m shocked that Bettman allowed Winnipeg to get a team – aside from their small arena.

Meanwhile you have the players who are whining about low pay, free agency issues and getting concussions. Some are taking the NHL to court for not coming out with rules to reduce concussions.

Hey, instead of moaning about other stuff, how about striking for rules to be enforced to prevent concussions. I think any player going into hockey knows that a concussion is very possible. It is part of the game. You can’t blame the owners for something that you knew about. It’s like taking car manufacturers to court because a car can cause an accident [other than a malfunction or defect in the car].

Concussions occur because the player was hit mistakenly by another player or not mistakenly. Even if it was the later, many times they are not hit on the head by the other player [which there are penalties for already] but when they tumble.

If the season actual resumes in the next month [because the NHL has said that if they can’t get a 48 game season, the season will be cancelled], boycott them. Don’t wear anything from an NHL team. Don’t go to a game. Don’t watch a game. Don’t listen to a game. Instead, go out and support the minor leagues.

Post Olympic thoughts

Now that the Olympics are over [for 4 years, or 1.5 years or so if you include the winter games in Sochi]:

A real bummer that the Canadian women’s soccer team got some bad officiating and ended up with a bronze. The Norwegian referee wasn’t in any further games [a sort of demotion].

Michael Phelps hitting 21 medals including 17 gold medals in his Olympic career – ranking something like 40 or so in the all-time country list if he was a country.

Our only gold in – errr – trampoline? Sorry trampoline fanatics but trampoline isn’t up there compared to soccer gold, swimming gold, 100m track gold, etc. [Somewhere in the world, some sports journalist will note this and laugh.]

An excellent opening ceremony but so-so closing ceremonies. Legends Paul McCartney and The Who who closed each show with a seven minute medley. Give them something lengthy. It was the end of the show.

Our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, who is supposed to be the “number one” Canadian fan was almost a no show throught the Olympics – unless he was asked. Where was he? He wasn’t trying to pass some useless bill in parliament.

Usain Bolt [if not Michael Phelps] will rake in the money as the fastest man in the world.

A real bummer with the Canadian four man relay towards the end of the Olympics when one of the runners went over the line.

The largest McDonalds ever [overtaking one in Orlando], capable of doing 1200 orders an hour [the amount was estimated prior to the Olympics]. Now what do they do with it once the Olympics are over. 20 cashiers, 1500 seats, and staffed by 500 including at least 200 at any time. That’s a lot of obese people.

Finally, “The Royals” showing up quite often at the events – even doing “The Wave” like all the other dull normals. Hip. Hip. Horary!