Archive for the sport Category

F1 Rule Changes: For Better or for Worse?

Posted in F1, sport with tags , on 04/02/2010 by mfcx4tm2

There’s been a lot of debate over the Formula 1 winter break about the various rule changes that are being suggested for the sport. Many of these changes have already been confirmed for next season with others turning out to be wild speculation from all and sundry. But are all these changes good for the sport or are they going to ruin the history of a sport that goes back long before Lewis Hamilton was even a twinkle in Ron Dennis’ eye?

One of the most contentious issues has been the introduction of a new points system for 2010. A change was already confirmed back in December with more points being given to more people along the format of the Moto GP scoring system. Even this modification was further modified in January in order to give more benefit to the winner of a race. Whilst i think most agree that the winner having a bigger reward is a good thing, the fact is that we had a perfectly good system originally (10, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1) but this was changed in ‘the Schumacher era’ in order to try and spice up the championship battle. It certainly did the trick but whether it was the best long term strategy now looks a little questionable. The main argument facing the new system is that we will no longer be able to compare new records with old as, whilst the numbers were slightly tilted for the last decade, they will now bear no resemblance at all. This is a shame as it is always nice to take a retrospective view and compare the latest hotshots against the former greats. I personally believe the mistakes were made when the points system was messed with in the first place, in order to hinder Schumacher, and that the current situation is merely a way of returning to the original weightings without acknowledging those mistakes.

Another mention of rule changes that sparked quite an outrage was Mr Ecclestone’s suggestion that shortcuts should be added to tracks to mix things up a little. I’ve no doubt this was just Bernie playing with people’s heads and his (successful) attempt to keep Formula 1 in the spotlight after all the Schumacer hype had died down. It certainly ruffled a few feathers, with Eddie Irvine in particular taking quite an offence to it. This being said, it was clearly a ridiculous a idea and the day that rule is enforced will be the day F1 dies…

The shortcut idea was actually raised after calls that the new refuelling rules would result in processional races due to strategy being taken out of the equation. I personally think this change will have a beneficial effect as drivers will have to take bigger risks to gain positions, thus seperating the men from the boys. It will also be interesting to see how different cars handle the changing weight of the car as fuel runs down, i’m sure some will handle better when full up and vice versa. This rule change also bred the potential introduction of rules on tyres and the front half of the grid having to start the race on the tyres they qualify on. Will it ever end???

Formula 1 has always been the pinnacle of motorsport and will remain so no matter how many rule changes are introduced. However, the question needs to be asked, are they needed? The idea has always been to discover the best team and driver combination and no endless changing of rules will alter this. So, with this in mind, why change them at all?

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Trouble in Africa Raises Concerns for World Cup

Posted in Football, sport with tags , , , on 10/01/2010 by mfcx4tm2

The football world has been left in disbelief this week with the events in Africa that have lead to Togo withdrawing from the competition after gunmen attacked the team bus and left 3 people dead and others injured. The attack has shocked the sporting world and has led to serious questions being asked about whether the tournament should go ahead, as well as the wider implications for the World Cup in South Africa in a few months time.

It came as no surprise that the Togolese team decided not to take part in the competition, football pales into insignificance when lives are lost and there’s no way any of the players could have concentrated on playing when they had lost friends to the attack. However, there were calls from the organisers of the tournament for Togo to stay and play and even the threat of serious sanctions against them, such as long term bans from competition, if they didn’t take part. I can’t believe this lack of compassion after such an awful event, and find it hard to believe that even if that conversation was taking place that it somehow managed to get leaked to the press. I think Mark Lawrenson summed it up nicely on Football Focus, pointing out that the players lives were more important than football and that those involved in the attack (if not everyone) should be back with their families as soon as possible, not playing a game and risking further danger.

Many of the Premier League managers have spoken out about the affair, Phil Brown being particularly vocal in saying that the players should be on the first plane home and forget about the Cup of Nations. This was echoed by the majority of his colleagues, barring Arsene Wenger who suggested that the competition should continue as anything else would be handing the terrorists a victory in kind. This is a fair point from Wenger, it’s true that people who behave in this way shouldn’t be allowed to alter the arrangements in one fell swoop and cancelling the tournament would have done exactly that. However, i think if i was in the shoes of the Togolese players my thoughts would have been a long way from playing a football match and focused on seeing my family and loved ones. Some of the players have talked of continuing in the competition in order to honour those that died, but in my opinion the risk is too high despite the honourable sentiments.

The situation has obviously raised a question mark over this summers World Cup in South Africa as well, the first to be staged on the continent. How can safety be ensured for an even higher profile event? South Africa’s past troubles have been well documented and the idea that an English team bus could be caught up in a shooting is unthinkable. That risk needs to be all but wiped out as if there is any hint of danger arisen then i’m sure the changes will be made, whether that is moving the venue and/or postponing the event altogether. Of course, South Africa is a long way from where the attacks have taken place and i’m sure the necessary precautions will be put in place, but seeds of doubt have been planted and that is exactly what the continent didn’t need. The World Cup was supposed to be a sign of how far Africa has come, but it could end up being an illustration that it hasn’t come far enough.

F1 on the BBC 2009

Posted in F1, sport with tags , , , , , on 03/01/2010 by mfcx4tm2

Back in 2009 (it seems so long ago now!) i wrote about the coverage of F1 on the BBC and gave my opinion on the various parts of the ensemble. That was back in July so i thought that, as everyone else i come across is doing a review of the year or the decade (or both), it was worth having a look back now that the season’s ended.

I think it’s fair to say that it was a super successful year for Formula 1 and the team at the Beeb. The coverage got better and better as the year progressed and the crowning glory of Jake Humphrey getting a kiss on the neck from the new world champion seemed to sum up how the crew are viewed by the F1 paddock.

Of all the team Jake was the standout success story of the year for me, we all know how good Martin Brundle is so that came as no surprise, but who would have thought that the boy from CBBC would take such a pressurised role by the scruff of the neck and perform so well. He dealt brilliantly with everything thrown at him, whether it was DC and EJ squabbling through his links or horrendous drama like Felipe Massa’s crash at Budapest. His blogs and Twitter updates gave a level of insight that fans have yet to see in F1 and is hopefully something that others in the F1 world will be encouraged to take up. The only thing he didn’t manage to do well was hide how happy and excited he was nearly every second on screen!

What I found even more surprising was Eddie Jordan’s rise in quality. I still had my reservations early in the season but he seemed to settle into the role more and more and by season’s end had taken on the guise of Mystic Meg, predicting Michael Schumacher’s return before anyone else. Maybe that’s just because EJ’s got a bigger mouth than anyone else in the F1 paddock but even still it’s great for the onlooking Formula 1 fan who doesn’t have access to that level of information. The longer the season went on the more I was impressed, as Eddie used his stature in the pitlane to get interviews with people previous pundits (think Jardine) wouldn’t have got near at such

f1 bbc

short notice (Schumi/Bernie). He might be slightly off the wall at times but he’s managed to tame this enough to make him informative as well as entertaining. His partnership with Coulthard (who also got better and better) makes really entertaining viewing but also gives the audience fantastic insight from people who have the inside track due to their history in the sport.

Unfortunately one member of the team still hasn’t convinced me. Jonathan Legard continues to disappoint in the lead commentary role in my opinion, though i did warm slightly more to him towards the end of the season. His commentary lacks authenticity, and i struggle to believe his excitement when he’s screaming ‘Go Go Go!’  or shouting about who’s about to get pole but is actually 2 seconds off the pace. I don’t know if it’s because i’m looking too hard for a Murray Walker replacement or he’s trying too hard to be one. Whatever it is, i think he would be better off if he just found his own style, as James Allen did when he supped from the poisened chalice for that short time on ITV. It will be interesting to see how he develops if the BBC stick with him, though i think he’ll continue to sound too calculated and scripted.

Despite this i’m very excited about the 2010 season and the BBC’s coverage of it. Having done such a good job in 2009 it’ll be interesting to see if they try anything new or they stick with a proven formula. I’d certainly like to hear a bit more from Lee McKenzie and David Croft, but as long as DC and EJ keep bickering and Jake keeps blogging i’ll be happy. Bring it on!

Formula 1 and Social Media Revisited

Posted in F1, Social Media, sport with tags , , , , on 20/12/2009 by mfcx4tm2

Earlier on in the 2009 season i wrote about the increasing use of social media in Formula 1. This issue has exploded since then with more and more people in increasingly important circles discussing the way the sport interacts with its fans in the age of the internet.

One such luminary is Luca di Montezemolo, boss of Ferrari, who has been amongst the people who have called for F1 to appeal more to the internet generation and adapt to the needs of fans who are chomping at the bit to get there hands on more and more info. This is something that has been done brilliantly in other industries, with the world of music offering a fantastic example of how to engage fans on a one to one basis, whether it is speaking to them on Twitter or asking them to make remixes or videos for their songs. This sort of attention to detail is something that Formula 1 has so far failed to offer, though there are glimpses on the horizon that we may be heading towards an ever more fan-friendly F1.

As i mentioned in the previous post, the number of F1 personalities using Twitter is ever increasing (Keith Collantine at F1 Fanatic has a great list if you’re interested) and this can only be beneficial for fans trying to get a more in depth view of the f1 paddock and all its goings on. Even World Champion Jenson Button is on there posting photos of his everyday activities, which is exactly what us fans want. The next step is getting them interacting, though whether we’ll ever get Jenson to take the time out to tell us some more about the glamourous photo he’s just posted is maybe a little optimistic. However, the trend of drivers and other F1 personalities giving an insight into their world certainly needs to continue to keep the ever more demanding f1 fan happy.

Of course, we need to remember that Twitter is just one element of the internet world as well, and i leaned toward the potential that has yet to be unleashed in F1 with YouTube in my previous post. There’s also Facebook which provides a lot of options for teams to bring interesting, insightful content to the info-hungry fan.  McLaren currently lead the way in employing someone (@TheFifthDriver) with the sole job of giving the fans a pathway into the team, and i’m sure that the fanbase of McLaren has become wider and stronger than ever before since this introduction. Who would you rather support, a team that gives you photos and daily insight into the activities of the team and drivers or a team who you only get to see when they murmer some PR spiel in a post race press conference?

It’s ironic that one of the most technologically advanced sports in the world has yet to find the best way to exploit one of the most significant technological developments of recent times. However, the fact that people of Montezemolo’s stature are discussing the issue is a good sign and one that suggests that being a fan of Formula 1 is only going to get better.

Spurs – Football Team or Harry’s Second Home?

Posted in Football, sport with tags , , , on 16/12/2009 by mfcx4tm2

My favourite footballer is Peter Crouch – great feet for a big man. The truest cliche ever. Great nickname too,  ‘the ladder’.  Turns out that a lot of the Spurs players have good nicknames. And also that  a lot them are associated with the home. Too many in fact. Has this been a deciding factor in Harry’s transfer policy? Crazy I hear you scream. Judge for yourself, but i think Harry’s trying to set himself up a little house of players:

Peter Crouch aka ‘the ladder’

Tom Huddlestone aka ‘the wardrobe’

Michael ‘Door’son

Johnathon Woodgate

Benoit Assou ‘a cot’o (for the baby)

Alan ‘Hut’ ton (like the garden shed, no?)

Wilson ‘Palace’ios (Harry’s home is a palace)

Danny Rose (Bush)

David Bentley (to do the school run in for Jamie)

Looks like a dead cert to me, all he needs to do is get some nice Deco(r)  in and he’ll have the lot.

F1 2009: Highlights on and off the track

Posted in F1, sport with tags , , , , , , on 24/11/2009 by mfcx4tm2

The cold, dark F1 winter is upon us and luckily we’ve had plenty of gossip and controversy to keep us amused since the flag fell in Abu Dhabi. As announcements start to die down and things fall into place, I thought this would be an opportune time to look back at the season and pick out some of my personal favourite moments. There were obvious high points, not least JB’s maiden championship, but the following list tries to delve a little deeper into particular moments that will remind me of an extremely entertaining 2009 season, both on and off the track:

  • Looking back to the start of the season Jenson has said that it was his victory at Albert Park in Melbourne that was most significant as it illustrated to him how good the car actually and was the moment of realisation that they may have a championship challenger in their hands. Obviously Brazil was also an incredible moment but my lasting Jenson Button memory from the season will be him running around the last corner at Monaco with his helmet on, waving at the crowd and soaking up the atmosphere. I think it will be an image that will continue to be used decades from now and was my highlight from his season.
  • Mark Webber’s first win was obviously a very emotional one and it sent shivers down my spine listening to him screaming down the radio in fits of happiness. He’s obviously a well liked chap within the F1 paddock and too see him finally get his first win was a special moment.
  • A few of my favourites were courtesy of Rubinho. He’s another one that is obviously a lovely guy and provides some great entertainment on and off the track. His ‘blah blah blah’ outburst at Barcelona seemed very out of character but clearly the pain felt from the Schumacher years has left a deep scar. Things brightened up towards the end of the season though and before long we saw him and Eddie Jordan strutting around in the tightest pair of trunks you’ve ever seen. Surprised OFCOM didn’t have something to say about that before the watershed…  The high point was seeing the classic Barrichello victory wobble on the podium at Monza though, he’s still clearly thought of very highly by the Tifosi and you could tell how happy he was to have turned the tables on Jenson as the season came to a close.
  • Politics has always played a strong part in Formula 1 and, whilst people moan about it taking focus away from the racing, i think it adds an extra element and only accentuates the action on the track. We all loved the drama back in the Senna/Prost days and i’m sure people will love looking back in a few years and discussing the Renault scandal, McLaren cheating or the FOTA-FIA war.
  • It always nice to see a bit of fisticuffs come into play and Jarno Trulli and Adrian Sutil did a great job of playing handbags after their collision in Brazil. And Jarno wasn’t happy leaving it at that, as he brought photo evidence to the pre race press conference in Abu Dhabi to prove he was in the right. I think all he got was a few muffled laughs and the mick taken by Fernando Alonso though…
  • A couple of amusing moments from the many driver replacements in the season caught my eye as well. Firstly, seeing Luca Badoer falling off his Ferrari scooter seemed to perfectly sum up his return to Formula 1, and then we had Romain Grosjean popping his Renault into exactly the same piece of wall as Nelson Piquet Jnr had done a year earlier. It was so filled with irony that even the newly appointed Renault chief Bob Bell managed to raise a wry smile.
  • Finally, my lasting memory of 2009 will not be Jenson Button kissing Jake Humphrey on the neck or Ross Brawn’s tears on the pitwall, but of Kimi Raikkonen swanning around the paddock in his shorts and t shirt  in Malaysia, magnum in hand, as the rest of the drivers stood out in the rain waiting for the race to restart. Turns out Kimi had the right idea in the end, as the race was abandoned and only half points were awarded. Looks like he’ll be able to enjoy a few more Sunday ice creams next season.

Stadium Name Shame

Posted in Football, sport with tags , , , on 18/11/2009 by mfcx4tm2

‘Welcome to sportsdirect.com@St James’ Park.’

It’s got to be a joke hasn’t it? They’re pulling our leg. Those Geordies up to their old tricks again. But it seems Mike Ashley has proved just how little he knows his beloved compatriots once more by taking away the famous name of their stadium but only half replacing it – he couldn’t even go the whole hog with this one either. So now he’s failed at running the club, failed at selling it and failed at renaming the stadium. Not the best record.

It does illustrate the influence that money is increasingly having in the game though, and it isn’t just Newcastle that are sacrificing club history in the chase for more pennies in the piggy bank. We’ve already seen Arsenal leave Highbury to play at the Emirates and are soon to see Liverpool leave Anfield, one of the most iconic grounds in football, to play at a bigger, commercially named stadium (if the Americans can stay in a room long enough to get their figures in order that is). I find these two examples slightly more acceptable as the stadiums themselves are brand new and it’s true that the amount of money available from naming rights is incredible. However, renaming a club’s existing ground is slightly harder to swallow and I’m glad I’m not a Newcastle fan at the moment.

As a Darlington fan I’ve seen a similar situation evolve at our club as former chairman George Reynolds built a shiny 25,000 all-seater stadium (despite our average gate being around 5,000!) and seeing it fall on its face as he didn’t get the concert licence he was hoping for to support the funding of it. Perhaps a tad presumptious George. Anyway, the naming rights were sold for our stadium too in order to raise funds for the club after we sacrificed the history that went with the tin shed stands at the old Feethams Ground. Unfortunately though it seemed that any company that sponsored the stadium suffered similar fortunes to the team on the pitch as one after another went bust. It’s now called the Darlington Arena, looks like no-one else wanted to put their name to it…

So will we soon see Barcelona playing at the Adidas Stadium, Manchester Utd at the Andrex Arena or Newcastle at the…oh no, they’ve already changed. Is nothing sacred anymore?