Tag Archives | Sports

South Africa Imports 42 Million Condoms For World Cup Soccer

world_cup_2010_logoPerhaps taking a cue from the emergency shipment of condoms sent to Vancouver after the Olympic village exhausted supplies, soccer’s World Cup in South Africa, coming up in June, is making sure that the AIDS-ravaged nation has ample supplies, as reported in the Guardian:

Britain is to give 42m condoms to South Africa in response to a request for an extra billion as part of an HIV prevention drive before the World Cup, the government will announce today.

The request for British help in stockpiling sufficient condoms for the expected influx of thousands of football supporters in three months’ time was made during President Jacob Zuma’s recent visit to the UK to meet the Queen.

“Obviously there’s a big focus on the World Cup coming up and a huge increase in the number of people coming into South Africa,” said the international development minister, Gareth Thomas, who will announce the £1m funding today at an emergency summit in London on HIV prevention and treatment.

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Perfect Humans – Is It Really Wrong To Enhance Athletes?


Mark McGwire, St. Louis, 2001. Photo: Rick Dikeman (CC)

Now that the Olympics are over, science writer Quinn Norton asks if there’s contradictory rules when athletes technologically enhance their bodies. “A new injectable hormone will quickly become anathema, but seeking multiple LASIK eye surgeries to get better than 20/20 vision is a professional responsibility… Another instructive example is Tommy John surgery, an operation that replaces the ligament in the elbow that tends to suffer most in baseball pitchers. This surgery lets them pitch harder for longer, and despite being a major surgical modification, it isn’t viewed negatively.”

And here’s an even better example. “Injections of synthetic Erythropoietin to boost performance are a major no-no in sports. It’s considered blood doping. But athletes can produce EPO another way: by sleeping in a hypobaric chamber. This reduces oxygen and air pressure to what it would be somewhere 10,000-15,000 feet above sea level. The body responds by producing its own EPO — and lots of it — to get as much oxygen to the sleeping muscles as it can in the deprived environment.… Read the rest

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Brains, Brawn and Spectacle – Superbowl Boycott

Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe:
Though we definitely can act it, most Americans aren't stupid, even football proves that. It takes a decent amount of brainpower to remember statistics, history, game strategy and betting strategy. Unfortunately, it's so much misappropriated focus. We'll spend countless hours, dollars and energy on this one game, then we'll spend the same on March Madness, the World Series, the Stanley Cup and varried playoffs. In between, we'll throw an equal amount of time and talent into Hallmark holidays and celebrity awards shows.
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Super Bowl To Feature Pro-Life Ads

AFP reports that the Super Bowl on Sunday will include commercials from venomous conservative Christian organization Focus on the Family. The spots star Heisman Trophy-winning college quarterback Tim Tebow discussing the amorality of abortion. CBS is supposed to have a ban on advocacy commercials during the Super Bowl. The below ad, produced by the United Church of Christ, was previously rejected for its message of tolerance of gays...but in tough economic times, you take all the ad money you can get.
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Florida Residents Near Super Bowl Stadium Told to Watch Out for The Who’s Pete Townshend

Jose Lambiet writes in the Palm Beach Post:

The homes and schools close to Dolphins Stadium are receiving “sex offender advisory” postcards this week warning residents to watch out for The Who’s Pete Townshend, who’ll be performing at halftime of Super Bowl XLIV.

By next week, 1,500 homes will have received the postcard, sent by the Brevard County-based Protect Our Children. The non-profit acts as a community watchdog when it comes to sex offenders and sends similar cards to Melbourne residents where known pedophiles live.

Townshend, 63, was arrested in England in a 2003 roundup of alleged pedophiles accused of cruising online sites for photos of child sex. Townshend said he was just doing research for a book at the time. He wasn’t convicted of anything but was placed on that country’s list of sexual offenders for five years.

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‘Space Diver’ to Attempt First Supersonic Freefall

Charles Q Choi writes in New Scientist:

Supersonic FreefallA “space diver” will try to smash the nearly 50-year-old record for the highest jump this year, becoming the first person to go supersonic in freefall. The stunt could help engineers design escape systems for space flights.

On 16 August 1960, US Air Force Captain Joe Kittinger made history by jumping out of a balloon at an altitude of some 31,333 metres. “I stood up and said a prayer and stepped off,” he recalled.

Since then, many have tried to break that record but none have succeeded — New Jersey native Nick Piantanida actually died trying in 1965. Now Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner has announced he will make the attempt, with help from Kittinger and sponsorship from the energy drink company Red Bull.

Baumgartner, who became the first person to cross the English Channel in freefall in 2003, will be lofted to a height of 36, 575 metres in a helium balloon.

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Kim Jong-il Bans World Cup Coverage – Unless North Korea Wins

From The Telegraph:

The Supreme Leader has ordered state-run television not to broadcast live games, and to only screen highlights of North Korea’s victories.

The ruling means that 99 per cent of the country’s 29 million population will not be able to find out who wins the competition unless the 350-1, outsiders win it.

Games between other nations will be banned from the airwaves, while any highlights of North Korea’s matches will be heavily edited to ensure that they look like the better team.

All advertising in the stadiums will also be blurred out – along with opposition fans, The Sun newspaper reported.

Mike Breen, author of highly-respected book Kim Jong-il: North Korea’s Dear Leader, said: “Like everything else there, the regime will have complete control over the World Cup.

[Read more at The Telegraph]

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Is Football As Bad As Dogfighting?

In the new New Yorker Malcolm Gladwell takes a look at the strong link between playing organized football and brain damage, and suggests that the sport is comparable to dogfighting in its brutal destruction of its participant’ bodies for the sake of money and entertainment. Pros sometimes suffer from dementia shortly after their careers end:

Mike Webster, the longtime Pittsburgh Steeler and one of the greatest players in N.F.L. history, ended his life a recluse, sleeping on the floor of the Pittsburgh Amtrak station. Another former Pittsburgh Steeler, Terry Long, drifted into chaos and killed himself four years ago by drinking antifreeze. Andre Waters, a former defensive back for the Philadelphia Eagles, sank into depression and pleaded with his girlfriend—“I need help, somebody help me”—before shooting himself in the head. [Their] problem was with their heads, the one part of their body that got hit over and over again.

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Can Perfume Make You a Winner?

Matthew Futterman reports for the Wall Street Journal:

World-class athletes crave routine. Baseball’s Wade Boggs ate chicken before every game. Swimmer Michael Phelps blasts hip-hop in his earbuds before races. Others have a lucky shirt or pair of socks that feel right on their bodies, and nearly all of them watch video of previous events to help visualize a peak performance.

Few bother with smell.

Michelle Roark, the 2009 U.S. freestyle skiing champion, wants to change that. Ms. Roark, who is two classes short of a chemical engineering degree from the Colorado School of Mines, is convinced that the scent from a patent-pending perfume blend that she developed and calls “Confidence” is as important to her success as a good night’s sleep. Before competing, she douses her neck-warmer in the natural fragrance and spritzes it on the back of her neck and behind her ears.

“It’s scientifically proven that smell is closest to our emotions and our memories,” Ms.

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