Thursday, February 8, 2007

Heroes, hooligans, porn-singers and dope-takers

During my visit to Australia last August, one of my many pleasant discoveries was a book whose title is to be read at a second-degree level of humor: Sheilas, Wogs and Poofters by Johnny Warren [1943-2004]. He was the sporting hero who played a big role in promoting soccer in Australia.

A week ago, the television showed barbarian Sicilian spectators whose rioting—after a match between Catania and Palermo—caused the death of a policeman. Since then, all matches in Italy have been suspended. The government has decreed strict security regulations for stadiums, but it appears that only four grounds comply with these regulations. Unless work is carried out to make the other stadiums compliant, there's the strange possibility of matches being played behind closed doors.

In France, where certain fans can be just as moronic as in Italy, the soccer world was thrilled to learn on 26 January 2007 that former sporting hero Michel Platini had been elected president of the UEFA [Union of European Football Associations].

In the USA, there were no rioting fans in the context of the Superbowl, but I see that the halftime show has raised eyebrows once again. Last year, Janet Jackson's bra slipped down, revealing one of her breasts... which shocked puritanical TV viewers. This year, it appears that Prince performed behind a huge veil, so that spectators could only see the silhouette of the singer and his guitar... which was cunningly positioned in such a way that it looked like his giant penis.

Talking about sports with problems, Floyd Landis will not be lining up for the Tour de France, since his case of a positive drug test in last year's events has not yet been clarified. Over the last year or so, I've been aware that the daughter of a friend down on the French Riviera had started a promising career in competitive road cycling. When I last asked about her progress, I was surprised to learn that the girl had suddenly abandoned the sport completely. The reason? The people around her, in charge of her cycling career, were starting to insist upon the necessity of her taking certain pharmaceutical products.

I wonder if there are any totally calm and clean sports. One likely candidate: the weird thing called curling, where people with brooms sweep around a huge stone disk as its slides along the ice. I can't imagine that people who play that sport could be anything other than really nice quiet innocent folk. But who knows? Maybe players could get into a dispute through love rivalry, in Lisa Nowak style, and start bashing each other over the heads with their brooms. These days, I'm prepared for anything.

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