Field Theory by Hadyn Green

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Field Theory: Disco Tom

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  • st ephen,

    Gold is always better than a Bronze.

    Well yes, in the sense that no one can ask more than that you beat the competition who turn up on the day. But otherwise, I'll call bollocks on that.
    Put it this way - which is the greater achievement; winning the World Cup in Cricket or winning the World Cup in Football? No bloody contest. Even making the quarter-finals in the Football World Cup is going to trump the cricket, and there's no reason why you can't apply the same subjectivity to Olympic sports (and events within sports).
    Personally I'd still rank Val as #1 - she destroys the competition. But any medal in a global sport like running beats a medal in left-handed lightweight coxless sculling, or whatever it is that we specialise in these days.

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 198 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen,

    ...(b) he didn't beat Morcelli or Kip Keino or Filbert Bayi or any other superstars with significantly better times and records.

    Simon, the only reason you can name-drop Bayi and Keino is that 30+ years ago when those guys were around, NZ had athletes who could compete with them. Now we do again, which (unpleasant racist stuff aside) was kind of the point of the article. In finishing 5th in his semi final, Nick knocked out 5 of the current top ten. If Nick keeps improving, then maybe by the next Olympics you'll be more familiar with the current crop of superstars.

    In fact, the current Commonwealth champion heading off a French athlete for the bronze is not really big news at all....

    Baala, like the winning "Bahraini" has North African origins, which is athletics shorthand for "drug cheat". ;-) So within the athletics community, the result was pretty significant - unlike, say, an East European woman winning a marathon....

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 198 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Perhaps some of the most interesting chemical stories this Olympics - players banned from using performance enhancing substances to 'dope' table tennis bats.

    Sticking glues on the bat, in other words. The effects on the players of those glues were rather harsh.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2132 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    But then you'd be looking at the man in the fastest vehicle. I think the fastest person from human power is some downhill cyclist (though that sounds dubious).

    Base-jumping surely, if you're going to let gravity do the work but exclude machines. And on land I think it's cyclist followed by speed skiers, who can hit up to 250km/hour.

    And the world record holder in womens shot put wasn't competing at Beijing, at least according to wikipedia. She was in Paris raising her kid.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6162 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    Baala, like the winning "Bahraini" has North African origins, which is athletics shorthand for "drug cheat". ;-)

    May I encourage you to elaborate on or qualify this comment. I would hate to get snippy over a misunderstanding.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 723 posts Report Reply

  • Tze Ming Mok,

    Willis then spoke about being almost a missionary as he represented the "western" world against the might of the African distance runner. The man didn't just win a medal, he gave half the world hope.

    Where do you even start? "Almost a missionary"? To, like, Africa? That's almost, uh... metaphorical?

    Maybe in exchange for all that hope, the "western" world can start forking over some of those G8 pledges from 2005...

    SarfBank, the Gangnam of … • Since Nov 2006 • 104 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen,

    May I encourage you to elaborate on or qualify this comment. I would hate to get snippy over a misunderstanding.

    Probably all you need to know is that Ramzi and Baala (like Marion Jones and Nick Willis) have never failed a drug test. So snip away!

    Alternatively, ten minutes on Google will give you the circumstantial case against Ramzi. For Baala, wasn't the smiley enough qualification?. Though in the context of discussing African dominance over Europeans at distance running, it’s a bit daft to ignore Baala’s heritage.

    And in defence of Nick, he did say that the gold medals from the likes of Walker and Snell clearly outshone his bronze, while Snell pointed out that in his day the Africans weren't the force they are now. But when it comes to defending all that religious triumphalism, count me out...

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 198 posts Report Reply

  • LegBreak,

    Yet when Walker, Snell and Lovelock achieved their feats it was at a time when British, and other Northern European running was a lot stronger. Both in terms of performance and general interest.

    Sorry, the more I think about Willis’s comments the more I’m uncomfortable with them.

    Does anyone know anything about this College in the States where he trains?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1162 posts Report Reply

  • JP Hansen,

    Does anybody know why there are no NZ Softball teams competing at the Olympics?

    From wikipedia "New Zealand is the current Men's World Champions, having won the last three tournaments".

    ???

    Waitakere • Since Nov 2006 • 199 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Whilst I am delighted for Nick Willis, his frank and obvious relief at having achieved his meal ticket for the next 2-4 years was revelatory to me about the pressures on journeymen athletes on the periphery of the big money.

    It was kind of sad to, I am a romantic when it comes to the lost Corinthian values of sport.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1792 posts Report Reply

  • LegBreak,

    Softball is a women’s only sport at the Olympics. Baseball is the men’s sport.



    Rightly so too.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1162 posts Report Reply

  • noizyboy,

    Olympic softball is competed by women only, with men competing in the similar sport of baseball.

    Qualifying for the women was at the 2006 ISF World Champs, where we finished 5th in our pool, so didn't even get through to the playoff rounds (where the top 4 got to qualify).

    There was then an Asia/Oceania qualifier, where we finished 2nd to Taiwan (or Chinese Taipei, if you prefer). Only they went through to the games.

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 171 posts Report Reply

  • JP Hansen,

    Thanks for that info!

    Any insight into why Softball is played in NZ by the men, rather than Baseball?

    Waitakere • Since Nov 2006 • 199 posts Report Reply

  • LegBreak,

    Because the origins of softball in this country are based around companies in order to keep their workers fit and happy etc.

    Businesses in Wellington were particularly active in this; Gear meats in Petone and Todd Motors in Porirua. That’s why those areas are the traditional strongholds of softball in this country.

    Quite why those companies chose a women’s sport for this is unknown.

    These days business houses tend to promote indoor netball.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1162 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    Probably all you need to know is that Ramzi and Baala (like Marion Jones and Nick Willis) have never failed a drug test. So snip away!

    Which is what I hoped you would say. I have grown quite weary over the last few weeks poining out to people that it makes no sense to suggest that some are cheating and some are not. The plain fact of the matter is we do not know who is and who is not cheating until they get caught, and that using culture, race or indeed google as a basis for argument is a pretty poor means of making such determinations.

    Snell - meh....

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 723 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Kennedy,

    Where sport and nerdliness collide...
    You might be interested in this guy's medal table analysis:
    http://www.billmitchell.org/sport/medal_tally_2008

    Not just the four words we New Zealanders cling to - "per head of population" - but also medals based on GDP, medals based on the size of the team sent to compete etc etc...

    Hours of nerdly fun.

    Purgatory • Since May 2008 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    The plain fact of the matter is we do not know who is and who is not cheating until they get caught, and that using culture, race or indeed google as a basis for argument is a pretty poor means of making such determinations.

    True. Annoy your workmates with this one today:

    Which nice little country has had its last two Olympic gold medal winners busted after the drug tests?

    Ireland. (aka NZ with a sexier accent)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 757 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen,

    Which nice little country has had its last two Olympic gold medal winners busted after the drug tests?

    Well yes, but then again her husband was a banned drug-cheating discus thrower, and her pattern of avoiding tests and sudden improvement at a relatively advanced age is template stuff. It's not about race, culture or nationality - it's about sub-cultures within particular sports in particular regions and the pattern of suspicious results (and positive tests) that result.

    I'd submit that East German + woman + 1970's + gold medal is actually a pretty good basis for making a determination...

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 198 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    Softball is a women’s only sport at the Olympics. Baseball is the men’s sport.

    Rightly so too.

    Dude, are you picking fights?

    There is no reason why softball is a sport for women and baseball is a sport for men. Softball is an "easier" sport (larger ball, slower pitches, smaller field) and as such is played more by amateur sportspeople who would quickly become disenfranchised if they had to play baseball.

    Moreover, if you can play baseball, then you should be fairly good at softball*, so why not make both sexes play softball and have more countries entered.

    *though that is not always the case.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2081 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    I'd submit that East German + woman + 1970's + gold medal is actually a pretty good basis for making a determination...

    In an isolated context this example appears pretty compelling, but place it against any number of Americans, Russians, Brits et al. and the issue becomes not one of spotting the cheat but only recognising the ones that were conspicuous by their success.

    It makes an assumption about spotting sub-cultures; that we are able to be objective and have consistent access to quality information. I would propose that these criteria are pretty hard to meet and I think Mr & Mrs Landis would agree.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 723 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    There is no reason why softball is a sport for women and baseball is a sport for men. Softball is an "easier" sport (larger ball, slower pitches, smaller field) and as such is played more by amateur sportspeople who would quickly become disenfranchised if they had to play baseball.

    Women play Baseball in Sydney - I've got family who play in a local league with ten teams plus there's another larger competition run across NSW. My three year old, on seeing blokes play Baseball in our local park stated "but daddy, boys don't play Baseball, girls do..." (she's also convinced only blokes play Netball 'cause I do).

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2229 posts Report Reply

  • LegBreak,

    HG,

    The other option would be to drop softball and rounders altogether and just play baseball. Both genders.

    Just because it is a sport NZ men win by default, it doesn’t mean it has any credibility.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1162 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    The other option would be to drop softball and rounders altogether and just play baseball. Both genders.

    See, until I read Paul's comment I would've stuck to my guns on the "it's easier for amateurs" line.

    Both sports are on my "cut" list anyway.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2081 posts Report Reply

  • LegBreak,

    It would take a very brave IOC committee that chopped events across the board at the Olympics.

    And IOC committees down the years are not too well known for that.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1162 posts Report Reply

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