Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “FIFA”

Balls – Tom Rossi

I’ve been watching the Confederations Cup, an international soccer tournament, on tv for the past few days, and I see that a problem has not really been fixed.

For the 2010 World Cup of Soccer (Futbol), Adidas introduced a new ball unlike any that had been seen before. Adidas holds the contract with FIFA to provide the soccer balls that are be used in the games. This contract provides plenty of opportunities for Adidas to make some serious money.

Adidas wondered how it could really cash in, and they came up with a way to make everybody say the name “Adidas,” over and over again: they came out with a new, really crappy ball. And that ball, or its very similar offspring, is still in use.

Video: The Jabulani in action…

The Adidas “Jabulani” ball has no stitches. It’s panels are bonded together in a kind of heat/glue process that makes the outer surface completely smooth. This makes for what aerodynamicists call “laminar” airflow around the ball, at least until the air gets to the back of the ball, where it makes a slight vacuum, due to turbulence.

Huh? Don’t worry about the technical stuff. What matters is that the Jabulani acts like a beach-ball. When a player kicks it up into the air, it slows down drastically, almost floats in suspension, and then falls back to the ground, significantly short of where you might expect from its original trajectory.

face paint

This causes passes through the air to travel so slowly that the defenders can get to the landing spot before the ball reaches the intended receiver. As a result, it essentially takes away the long pass as a strategy in many situations and thereby significantly alters the game of soccer.

Several good teams could not adapt, in the 2010 World Cup, to these changes. These teams had long used the long pass as an integral part of their strategy. Adidas essentially changed the outcome of many matches with their new beach-ball (although Spain might have won the whole thing, anyway – they had a great team).

I’m frustrated by the slowdown in the game when I watch, anymore. Scoring hasn’t suffered, due to the fact that the new ball curves like crazy on shots, but midfield play certainly has. The lack of the threat of a long pass has allowed defenses to swarm around the ball more, almost like in an AYSO game for eight-year-olds.

Video: Cute, but this isn’t what World Cup play should look like.

Is this another of my occasional digressions from politics into sports? Not really. This is a clear example of a giant corporation making a mess of something, strictly for the purpose of increasing their already massive profits.

The World Cup is a fantastic event that brings the countries of the world together, in peace, in civilized competition. Aside from a few incidences of hooliganism, it’s a chance for teams and fans from around the world to rub shoulders, have a beer together, and talk about their different lives and loves. It’s an incredible opportunity for fun, interaction, and sewing the seeds of peace.

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Adidas hasn’t really changed all that, but the World Cup has been tainted by their greed. Now, there are rumors that, despite record profits in recent years. Adidas in testing a new ball that more closely resembles the balls of the past. Let’s see if they can fix it in time for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

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-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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Forgot my Birthday?

Last year, my birthday fell during the once-every-four-years World Cup (soccer). I thought I could slow the aging process down by deciding that, like the World Cup, I would have a birthday once-every-four-years.

A great tribute to the peaceful South African revolution

So what do I want for my birthday? Something between my own house, world peace, and one of my books becoming a New York Times Bestseller. If you can arrange any of those three, please do. If you feel you have to prioritize (really, how long have we been friends?) then I suppose world peace comes first,

Otherwise, I am going to list 10 organizations that I have highlighted over the past year. Instead of buying me a fine bottle of wine or a box of chocolates that will have me working out for hours at the gym (after thoroughly enjoying them), why not consider donating the exorbitant amount of money you were going to splash on me to one of these great organizations. Please click on the link to the organization that catches your fancy.

1. The Lower Ninth Ward Village – a community center that will provide the only way to keep children in a safe environment over the summer.

2. Save A Child’s Heart – a hospital in Israel that gives free medical heart procedures to children from any country or religion in the Middle East and beyond.

3. One Voice – helping Israeli and Palestinian youth demand a non violent and just solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

4. Jewish Funds for Justice – sending students to work in disaster-struck areas of the world and teaching the value of social justice.

5. World Reader – providing sustainable e-book solutions to children in Africa and other poor regions, allowing them to grow through reading and education.

6. Habitat for Humanity – a community helping to provide people with homes.

7. Jewish Heart for Africa – leveraging sustainable Israeli environmental technology to help the poorest rural African communities.

8. Darfur & The Berkeley Stove – providing stoves for women in Darfur, thereby avoiding the need to put themselves in violent situations.

9. Project Homeless Connect – offering bi-monthly services to the homeless of San Francisco.

10. Kiva Loans – a micro-loan organization that helps people create businesses to lift themselves out of poverty.

They are all good causes and I know there are many more. But it is amazing how just a small gift can save or change a person’s life. What a way to celebrate your birthday!

Thank you. Wanna slice of birthday cake?

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

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