Sports & Motivationby Matt Doheny
One month before the Olympic Games are set to begin in Rio, the city finds itself in an ongoing “state of public calamity” from which it may not recover in time for the Opening Ceremony on August 5. Citing a severe financial crisis that is preventing the state of Rio de Janeiro from honoring its commitments to the Games, Rio’s Governor Francisco Dornelles warned of a potential “total collapse in public security, health, education, mobility and environmental management.”
By declaring the state of calamity, Rio will receive an $850 million bailout from Brazil’s federal government, but it is unclear whether this last-minute cash infusion will fix a number of critical problems surrounding the Games.
Firstly, construction is still not complete and is not scheduled to be until just days before the Games begin. Contract disputes delayed the completion of the velodrome, prompting Rio organizers to take direct control of construction on June 26. The venue is not expected to be able to host races until the Games officially begin. The new metro line linking the main Olympic Center to other Olympic venues and beaches is also not expected to open until a mere three days before the Opening Ceremony.
Measures for public safety may also be insufficient. Rio has experienced a number of high-profile crimes in recent weeks, perhaps at least in part because its police officers have not been getting paid. Part of the bailout package will distribute back pay to public safety officials this week, but concerns over whether the government will support them enough during the period of increased tourism brought on by the Games remain.
Water pollution may also adversely affect athletes and spectators. Brazilian scientists have discovered a drug-resistant bacteria growing off of some of the city’s most popular beaches, where athletes will compete in sports such as sailing, rowing, and open water swimming. These bacteria, which entered the city’s waterways thanks to hospital sewage runoff, may have been the cause of German Paralympic sailor Heiko Kroger’s teammate’s severe skin infection. At this point, only 51% of the city’s water has been treated.
The Zika virus is another public health concern. Though the World Health Organizations (WHO) is confident that precautions such as mosquito repellent and/or long-sleeved shirts and pants will keep athletes and tourists healthy, some athletes have chosen not to compete in Rio. Fortunately, the Games will take place during Brazil’s winter, making the climate less hospitable for mosquitoes. However, pregnant women should not risk exposure to Zika under any circumstances.
Finally, the shutdown of Rio’s anti-doping lab last month for “nonconformity” to international standards creates a logistical challenge for the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which will have to use an outside lab to test blood and urine samples from Athletes.
With so many challenges, it is unclear how prepared Rio will be on August 5, but the city is doing everything it can to ready itself.
The arrival of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games has been marred by a number of issues and controversies, but none may be more concerning than the recent doping scandal surrounding Russian athletes. As the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) prepares to announce its decision on whether Russia will be excluded from the games, the world must contemplate just how prevalent this “juicing” culture has become in sports, and if it has ultimately undermined the competitive spirit of the Olympics of old.
In 2015, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WAPA) dropped a bomb on the sporting world with the release of an extensive report detailing a major Russian athlete doping scandal. According to their investigation, the Russian government was actively sponsoring and condoning the use of performance enhancing drugs by their professional athletes. The 323-page report implicated everyone from the athletes themselves, to trainers, doctors and various high-ranking Russian officials. WAPA president Dick Pound said the evidence was worse than they had anticipated, and called it exemplary of an “old attitude from the Cold War days,” according to article by the New York Times.
In the following months new conspiracies have come to light, with the most recent controversy concerning Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko’s attempts to cover up a top footballer’s failed drug test results. Mutko has vehemently denied the allegations, calling them “silly” attempts to smear Russia in response to the nation securing the rights to host the 2018 World Cup. The Kremlin has backed the minister’s argument, saying that these claims and others were nothing more than attempts to slander Russia.
One gets the sense that Russia’s frustration does not stem from the fact that the allegations are not true, but rather that they are the ones getting singled out for it. After all, while Russia may be a particularly egregious offender, it is not the only country whose athletes have been caught in the midst of doping scandal. According to 2013 data collected by the WAPA, athletes from countries such as Turkey and France were also found to have a large number of drug violations. In 2015, a leaked report from the IAAF found one in eight tested athletes showed “highly suggestive” evidence of blood doping. The whole affair speaks of an underlying problem that has been present for as long as sports and athletic competition has existed.
Athletes and combatants have been relying on physical supplements and performance enhancing medicines for centuries. According to an article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the ancient Olympics in Greece were “riddled with doping.” Athletes relied on special concoctions and exotic meat diets to compete. Ancient Roman chariot racers took herbal infusions before races, and even drugged their horses to improve their speed.
Regardless of how the ancients felt about these practices, it is clear that the modern world finds major fault in it. The public has quickly turned their backs on formerly revered athletes caught up in doping scandals. Baseball legend Barry Bonds was smeared by sports media when he surpassed Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron’s home run records, as it was heavily speculated that he used steroids to improve his hitting. Former MLB player Jose Canesco has admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during his professional career, and claimed in his 2005 tell-all book Juiced that as many as 80% of the league uses steroids.
When it comes to international sports, the public is not less forgiving. Many athletes, such as cyclist Lance Armstrong, have been stripped of their titles and trophies on accusations of doping. Canadian lawyer Richard H. McLaren, who helped author the 2015 WAPA report on Russia, said that corruption of this sort “attacks sport at its core” and takes away “fair competition.”
Nevertheless, it may be naïve to think the WAPA can put an end to the use of performance-enhancing drugs in international sports. State-sponsored doping programs such as in Russia not only turn a blind eye to drug use, they actively encourage it. To the athletes themselves, the chance of being caught it is often minimal compared to the potential prestige and economic benefits of success. In the end, it’s up to the IAAF to determine just how much it values a fair playing field in sports, if such a thing truly exists anymore.
The New York Rangers have experienced plenty of ups and downs over the years. As one of the league’s “Original Six,” the Rangers captured three titles in their earliest years, before enduring one of the longest title droughts in professional sports.
The Rangers eventually overcame the fabled “Curse of 1940”, but the years to follow have been a rollercoaster of sorts. Here are a few of the Broadway Blueshirts’ most memorable moments…the good, the bad, and the awful.
The Rangers Take New York
The Rangers first came on the scene in 1926, one year after their New York rivals, the Americans. Though popular in their own right, the now-defunct “Amerks” were quickly forgotten after the Rangers won the Stanley Cup in just their second season.
The Rangers went on to win two more titles in 1933 and 1940 while the Americans were forced to retire the franchise in 1942 due to financial hardship.
J.P. Parise Destroys the Ranger’s Hopes
After winning the title in 1940, the Rangers entered into a long era of disappointment. The once dominant franchise wouldn’t return to the finals until 1950, where they suffered an overtime loss against the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 of the series.
The Rangers once again failed to capture the Cup in 1972, falling to the Boston Bruins in six games. However, it was the 1975 playoffs that truly left its mark on the franchise.
The Rangers fought an intense first round series against hometown newcomers, the New York Islanders. Heading into a decisive Game 3, the Rangers would experience a devastating defeat when left winger J. P. Parise scored the winning goal eleven seconds into overtime.
The Rangers Bounce Back
Despite the brewing sentiment that the Rangers were cursed to never again win the Stanley Cup, the team would not be deterred. Spurred by stellar play from Phil Esposito, Don Maloney, and John Davidson, just to name a few, the Rangers went on a playoff run for the ages in 1979.
Besting the top-seeded Islanders in six games, the Rangers would eventually face the Montreal Canadiens in the 79 Stanley Cup Finals.
Unfortunately, it would be over a decade before the curse was truly broken as the Rangers fell to the Canadiens in five. Still, the memory of that postseason run remains a happy one for the Ranger fans lucky enough to witness it.
Mark Messier Guarantees Victory
It’s difficult to single out just one moment from the Ranger’s legendary 1994 playoffs performance. However, there is one name that stands out ever so slightly over the rest: Mark Messier.
When Messier joined the Rangers in 1991, he had every intention of ending the franchise’s 50-year title drought. Three seasons later, the Rangers found themselves in a 3-2 deficit against the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference finals. Sensing his team needed a confidence boost, Messier personally guaranteed reporters that the Rangers would win Game 6.
Messier delivered on his promise, scoring a hat trick in the third period that changed the momentum of the game. The Rangers took Game 6 and surged into Game 7 where they closed out the series on an iconic wraparound goal from Stephane Matteau in double overtime.
The Rangers went on to defeat the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup finals, making history and finally putting an end to the franchise’s curse.
The Great One Joins The Messiah
When Wayne Gretzky reunited with former Edmonton Oilers teammate Mark Messier in 1996, Rangers fans were optimistic that the legendary duo would bring another championship to New York.
However, the fantasy was short lived. The Rangers were defeated in the 1997 Eastern Conference finals, and Messier left for Vancouver. A past-prime Gretzky failed to get the team to the playoffs, retiring from the NHL in 1999.
After years of failing to make the playoffs, the Rangers began to experience a resurgence with a team of young, talented players built around superstar Jaromir Jagr.
Hopes were on high when the Rangers drafted Russian winger Alexi Cherepanov in the 2007 draft. Despite some concerns that Cherepanov would never play in the NHL, the Rangers were hopeful they would get the highly touted prospect to New York within a few seasons.
On October 13 of 2008, Cherepanov collapsed on the bench during a KHL game against Vityaz Chekhov. He was pronounced dead later that day, leaving countless Ranger fans devastated and wondering what could have been.
The Rangers Return to the Finals
If there is one thing Rangers fans know, it’s that no matter how dark things seem, there will always be light at the end of the tunnel.
In the 2014 playoffs, the Broadway Blueshirts bounced back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round. They went on to defeat the Montreal Canadiens, before ultimately succumbing to the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup finals.
It was the team’s first finals appearance in 20 years, but Ranger fans likely won’t have to wait that long before they get another chance at the Cup.
Standing at 7’6, the Chinese born former Houston Rocket Yao Ming has been elected for enshrinement into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this year with Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson. According to league insiders, Yao was nominated and will enter the Hall of Fame under the newly minted Direct Elect International Committee. The formal announcement is slated for this weekend.
After being selected by the Houston Rockets in 1st-round draft pick in 2002, Yao exploded onto the NBA as the tallest active player, and his performances created an increased recruiting from the Far East. Yao’s personality and powerful presence on the court garnered lucrative endorsement deals as well as a rise to stardom for the affable Chinese national.
Even after a slowdown in gameplay due to injuries he sustained in the mid-2000s, popularity for the NBA star did not wane. A 2007 game between the Houston Rockets versus the Milwaukee Bucks featuring Yao Ming was broadcast on almost 20 networks in China. The game was watched by over 200 million people in his homeland, making it one of the most watched NBA games of all time.
Yao made a dramatic and celebrated entrance into the league and continues to have an enduring presence in the sport of basketball. Yao per game average was 19 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game across eight seasons. Yao retired in 2011 after a series of foot and ankle injuries that cut his career short.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is an American history museum located outside of Boston, Massachusetts, and serves as the most complete basketball historical library. Dedicated to Canadian doctor and inventor of the sport James Naismith, it inducted its first class of athletes in 1959.
As of September 11, 2015, the Basketball Hall of Fame has honored 345 individuals and 10 teams.
The Patrick Vieira era opened in Chicago this Sunday with a high-scoring win. It only took ten minutes for NYCFC to net their first goal of the club’s second season. Vieira’s 4-3-2-1 formation produced its first score courtesy of Tommy McNamara, who had an excellent opening match all around. It only took Chicago a few minutes to equalize–and the goals wouldn’t stop for much of the match. In total, four goals hit the net in the first half alone.
The second half proved to be much of the same. Chicago opened the second half with a 49th-minute goal that could have swung momentum the Fire’s way if it wasn’t for NYCFC’s defense. While not an ideal day for the back four, they held their own enough to preserve the win.
With Frank Lampard out, the club could have been in trouble, but Vieira’s gamble on youth proved to be a winning move–one that fans hope to see more of as the season goes on. After a first season where many supporters clamored to see more of the team’s youngsters, Sunday’s match could be an early example of what’s to come.
The highlight of the match had to be the beautiful inside the box lob from Tommy McNamara to connect perfectly with Mix Diskerud’s mid-air strike that could’ve easily fit in a karate movie fight sequence. The wonder strike proved to be the dagger NYCFC needed to go up 4-2. A Chicago PK goal, off an NYCFC handball in-the-box, would bring the score to 4-3 a few minutes later–but NYCFC brought enough to pick up the W.
If this weekend’s match proved anything, NYCFC could provide supporters with tons of action this season. If the defense can hold strong, the club could see some blowout wins coming its way. We’ll have to wait and see how the season plays out, but early indications give me hope that New York’s next great franchise is making itself known.
Check out the full match highlights below, courtesy of MLS.
For the first time since the fourth Super Bowl, the game will be sans Roman numerals which will make this a unique game. We all know what a big deal the Super Bowl is, but the Big 5-0 is one you don’t want to miss, so make sure you have the stats before this weekend’s game.
Sunday, Feb. 7, 6:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
First Super Bowl at Levi’s Stadium (2014), Santa Clara, Calif.
Booth: Jim Nantz and Phil Simms
Sidelines: Tracy Wolfson
Carolina Panthers (15-1 regular season) vs. Denver Broncos (12-4).
Panthers–Cam Newton, 26, ranked sixth in adjusted yards per pass attempt
Broncos– Peyton Manning, 39, ranked 41st
Panthers — Linebacker Luke Kuechly & Running backs Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert.
Broncos — Linebackers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware & Cornerbacks Chris Harris and Aqib Talib
Panthers — Defensive Back Thomas Davis (broken arm) after the N.F.C. championship. Davis claims he’ll play but may not get medical OK to do so.
Broncos — Chris Harris Jr. (bone bruise in his left shoulder) after the A.F.C. championship. May be a chance he will be cleared to play TBD.
Panthers — First in points, 12th in yards-per-play
Broncos — 19th in points, 17th in yards-per-play
Panthers — sixth in points, second in yards-per-play
Broncos — fourth in points, first in yards-per-play
The crew will be led by the referee Clete Blakeman, an eight-year veteran who once was the backup quarterback at Nebraska. Blakeman made news in the divisional round, when his first coin toss before overtime failed to flip.
Coldplay — guest appearance by Beyonce
All you need now is some tail-gaiting gear, even if it’s having some friends or family over to watch ___ get creamed. I’ll reserve my predictions until after the game.
Sports and athletic competition have been a part of society for nearly as long as humans have made effort to record their own history. While today’s activities no doubt stand in stark contrast to the competitions of our ancestors, it’s likely that the underlying motivations are much the same as they have always been. Although their abilities and approaches differ greatly, most athletes are driven by one of two core desires: an intrinsic desire for competence and capability or the will to prevail over competition.
Those individuals who are motivated by a desire to excel at a particular craft are generally those who can maintain effort more consistently. Whether it’s training, practice or actual competition, these types of athletes often display an affinity for the game or activity itself. In this regard, the motivation is simply to continue improving oneself, which often makes it easier for such athletes to persevere in the face of setbacks and major challenges.
Conversely, athletes whose primary drive comes from besting their opponents often excel in live competition, but they might also find it difficult to maintain the same energy in practice sessions. Without the incentive of victory, the same degree of motivation may or may not exist. In the absence of immediate gratification, pushing past difficult periods such as injuries or personal slumps can be more taxing.
In spite of the cardinal differences between these two types of athletes, common threads do exist. Motivated persons are typically those who feel the need to achieve, and therefore will often take the steps necessary to experience such success. To varying degrees, motivated persons are generally willing to sacrifice in other areas of life in order to focus their energy on becoming more proficient in their chosen activities, separating them from decidedly less-motivated individuals.
Pro athletes are the subjects of more scrutiny than ever before, with much of the attention being placed on those factors which helped to produce their exceptional talents. Coaches in every sport and every part of the world seek out the secret formula—the magic motivator which will turn any capable athlete into a superstar. While there is likely some merit to the idea that motivation comes from within and can’t be taught, harnessing and refining that energy is something else entirely.
This end is often achieved primarily through positive or negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement can be as simple as offering verbal praise for desirable behaviors or as complex as offering rewards for specific goals achieved. Negative actions lean toward verbal criticism, reduced playing time or even revoked privileges. Both are capable of promoting more favorable future outcomes, although the success of either approach hinges on one’s understanding of how best to communicate with a given athlete.
In the world of sports, motivation stands as the single variable which the athlete him or herself can control. Outside elements are capable of influencing any competition, including environmental factors, officiating and the talent level of the opposition. Because motivation ultimately does start and end with the individual, it remains at the heart of athletic success or failure and must be properly channeled in order for competitors to reach their own personal peaks.
Matthew “Matt” A. Doheny holds an extensive curriculum vitae as an entrepreneur, finance expert and political pundit which features past and current successes in the industries of the investment fund, distressed asset and financial management.
A cease-and-desist order was issued by the New York State attorney general recently which ordered two fantasy sports giants to stop accepting “illegal” gambling bets under New York state law. Eric T. Schneiderman’s move against DraftKings and FanDuel has made him enemy number one of the multibillion-dollar industry that has acquired diehard fans and professional sports partnerships.
Says Schneiderman, “It is clear that DraftKings & FanDuel are the leaders of a massive, multibillion-dollar scheme intended to evade the law and fleece sports fans across the country. Today we have sent a clear message: not in New York, and not on my watch.” The attorney general’s office and The National Council on Problem Gambling have said that it has received reports of “severe gambling problems” in some people who play daily fantasy sports.
Both companies have pushed back claiming that they are protected under a 2006 federal law that exempted fantasy sports from a prohibition against processing online betting.
DraftKings offered a statement through Sabrina Macias saying, “We’re disappointed he hasn’t taken the time to meet with us or ask any questions about our business model before his opinion.” According to Macias, there are more than 500,000 daily fantasy sports users in New York State.
FanDuel released its own statement of denunciation claiming that fantasy sports is not betting, it takes skill and careful planning, “Fantasy sports is a game of skill and legal under New York state law. This is a politician telling hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers they are not allowed to play a game they love and share with friends, family, co-workers and players across the country.”
Mr. Schneiderman began investigating the fantasy sites after a DraftKings employee accidentally leaked internal betting data then won $350,000 on FanDuel that same week. Findings to this end have drawn comparisons to insider trading — which has put a microscope on professional sports league senior management as well as the gambling sites.
New York is one of the growing number of states ruling that fantasy sports should be considered illegal gambling. Nevada recently mandated that daily fantasy sports fantasy companies cease operations until they have secured gaming licenses. A Florida grand jury has subpoenaed records of the fantasy sports trade group, the United States attorney in Manhattan has begun an investigation, and the Boston division of the FBI, where DraftKings’ are headquartered, has begun questioning fantasy sports players. With all this bad news on the rise, DraftKings and FanDuel will stand to lose millions of dollars, though they will save millions in advertising space bought by them during the NFL season. Each company has been known to spend upwards of $100 million for television ad campaigns.
In 2014, FanDuel claimed it was signing up to 30,000 players a day, and nearly every N.F.L. team has a sponsorship deal with either or fantasy sports sites. Iconic NFL owners, Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys and Robert K. Kraft of the New England Patriots, even have equity stakes in the companies.
DraftKings & FanDuel demands that they bar employees from playing on their own sites, but there doesn’t appear to be much oversight to ensure they don’t. Both sites operate without the equivalent of a Securities and Exchange Commission or any other policing or regulatory organization.
With so many powerful players involved with fantasy sports’ success, it will be interesting to see how the fantasy sports field will appear in the upcoming months.
Fantasy football – Get Sports Info
The United States now have something in common with their northern Canadian Football League (CFL) neighbors, as there has been an expansion to the old NFL’s scoring rules: a safety is now possible for either team and will be worth 1 point. Under the new Rule 11-3-2-c, “If the try results in what would ordinarily be a safety against either team, one point is awarded to the opponent.”
But the new NFL rules don’t stop there; the change to the safety rules on extra points and 2-point conversions is also seeing a bit of an alteration. Historically, if a point was blocked, the ball was dead if a defender got hold of it. Under the new rules, the kicker could try to return a dead ball (for a touchdown), which would be worth 2 points. Additionally, the new rules will also increase the distance for extra-point kicks by moving the scrimmage line from the 2-yard line to the 15. In this case, the team will have an opportunity to score on a conversion attempt.
The the 2-point conversion rule and the extra-point kicks rule are both completely unknown and a bit ground-breaking in Stateside football, it won’t be the first time the 1-point conversion safety has been seen in the States, the 1-pointer has been seen in college football for years. Though very rarely witnessed in college ball, the rare play is very possible to become a lot more prevalent in the future of the NFL.
The all-too-familiar scores are something fans of American football hold close to home, somewhat like a familiar face, so how will the new possibilities sit with them? Football evokes strong emotions for Americans so it’s to be determined how this turn of events will ultimately be received. Initially, it may be quite a sight to see a 23-1 scoreboard.