The English Journal

 

Vettel: Unpopular champion plans to stay the course


By Aurelien Renault

 

He wins race after race,

year after year. He has

an impressive collection

of trophies and has been

the king of Formula One

for four years- even at

age 26. Nevertheless,

there is one thing

Sebastian Vettel never

won, one trophy he never

brandished: popularity.

 

Everybody remembers the

incredible scene that took place this year after Vettel won the British Grand Prix. It’s something we don’t witness every weekend: the spectators booed the winner on the podium.


“I didn't understand it,” Vettel declared, “I had not done anything to make them do it. I went up onto the stage later for the post-race concert and got booed again.”

 

Unfortunately for the champion who just won his fourth title in a row, the booing reflects the German pilot’s unpopularity all over the world.

 

Why is he this unpopular? It may be for his special way of living. Indeed, you won’t see him drunk in a nightclub or wandering in the paddocks with a babe holding his hand. You won’t read gossip about him in tabloids nor hear someone say that he misbehaves.


No. Vettel, he's something else – a well-mannered, smart, and boyish-looking man. He embodies the ideal son-in-law and never gets himself into trouble. Paradoxically, it’s behavior people don’t necessarily want to see in Formula One. The four-time world champion could be considered an anti-James Hunt. The British pilot of the 70’s used to make headlines for his alcoholic parties and his tumultuous love story with model Suzy Miller. Comparing Hunt's fan appeal to Vettel, we could imagine the former is miles ahead in that race.


Furthermore, most pilots set the cats among the pigeons after Vettel won his fourth trophy in November. “I think that with a Red Bull (race car), Alonso would win more easily than Vettel,” Mercedes pilot Lewis Hamilton declared.

 

“Even if Vettel has dominated the whole season, I cannot deny that Fernando is the best!” Mexican pilot Sergio Perez argued.

 

Such declarations show Vettel's unpopularity in the minds of his racing counterparts and they discredit his winning ways.

 

Nevertheless, Vettel will stay the course. “I can deal with not being popular,” he said. The next green flag to drop will be at the Australia GP on March 16.

Basketball Integration and More: 60 years ago on the NBA court


By Thibaut Paquit  


October 31, 1950. It’s the day that forever changed the game of professional basketball on American courts.


Earl Lloyd became the first black player to play in an NBA regular season game.

The match  featured the Lloyd on the roster of the Washington Capitols, a team coached by Red Auerbach from 1946 till 1949, against the Rochester Royals. (The Royal later became the Kings).

This historic game took place in Rochester, New York, with (the 6-foot-5, 225 lb.) Lloyd on the court.  The league was only 4 years old and, obviously, it didn’t look like it looks today. The racial breakdown today is black: 78%, white: 17%, Hispanic: 4%, and Asian: 1%, according to the Racial and Gender Report Card of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES).

And in season that marks the 60th anniversary of Lloyd’s arrival, another barrier has been broken. Every NBA follower knows the name of Jeremy Lin, the first person of Taiwanese-American descent to play in the league.

Back to Lloyd, "The Big Cat," who broke down a very symbolic barrier for sports and his personal life by playing in the NBA.

In his autobiography, Moonfixer: The Basketball Journey of Earl Lloyd (November 2009), he said that he never really had  conversation with a white person of his age before arriving at the training camp of the Capitols … He had no problem to integrate the team,  everything went well,  he explained.

Bill Sharman, a white rookie from South Carolina and an eventual basketball Hall of Famer, became a confidant of Lloyd’s. The game helped them erode their external differences.

Lloyd found in Horace McKinney, a native of the American South, a very comprehensive and thoughtful trainer. An anecdote to this subject: during a road trip, a hotel accepted Lloyd but refused to serve him in the restaurant. Earl called room service to have the meal brought to his room. McKinney didn't want him to lunch alone, so he and the the rest of the team ate with him.

Today, Earl Lloyd is 83 years old. He was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2003 as a pioneer of the fight against racial segregation. He operates a non-profit, called the Earl F. Lloyd Foundation.


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Basketball Integration and More: 60 years ago on the NBA court


By Thibaut Paquit  


October 31, 1950. It’s the day that forever changed the game of professional basketball on American courts.


Earl Lloyd became the first black player to play in an NBA regular season game.

The match  featured the Lloyd on the roster of the Washington Capitols, a team coached by Red Auerbach from 1946 till 1949, against the Rochester Royals. (The Royal later became the Kings).

This historic game took place in Rochester, New York, with (the 6-foot-5, 225 lb.) Lloyd on the court.  The league was only 4 years old and, obviously, it didn’t look like it looks today. The racial breakdown today is black: 78%, white: 17%, Hispanic: 4%, and Asian: 1%, according to the Racial and Gender Report Card of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES).

And in season that marks the 60th anniversary of Lloyd’s arrival, another barrier has been broken. Every NBA follower knows the name of Jeremy Lin, the first person of Taiwanese-American descent to play in the league.

Back to Lloyd, "The Big Cat," who broke down a very symbolic barrier for sports and his personal life by playing in the NBA.

In his autobiography, Moonfixer: The Basketball Journey of Earl Lloyd (November 2009), he said that he never really had  conversation with a white person of his age before arriving at the training camp of the Capitols … He had no problem to integrate the team,  everything went well,  he explained.

Bill Sharman, a white rookie from South Carolina and an eventual basketball Hall of Famer, became a confidant of Lloyd’s. The game helped them erode their external differences.

Lloyd found in Horace McKinney, a native of the American South, a very comprehensive and thoughtful trainer. An anecdote to this subject: during a road trip, a hotel accepted Lloyd but refused to serve him in the restaurant. Earl called room service to have the meal brought to his room. McKinney didn't want him to lunch alone, so he and the the rest of the team ate with him.

Today, Earl Lloyd is 83 years old. He was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2003 as a pioneer of the fight against racial segregation. He operates a non-profit, called the Earl F. Lloyd Foundation.

..

He was the first, Earl Lloyd broke the color barrier in the NBA.

Courtesy Funky Abstract

NBA/Getty Images

Above Biking champion Taylor could ride perched on the handlebars, writes Lisa Cline-Ransome Top right Obama promises free net Below right In the driver’s seat, French cinema hero Dujardin releases new movie  

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He was the first, Earl Lloyd broke the color barrier in the NBA.

Courtesy Funky Abstract

NBA/Getty Images

7.2 million can’t be wrong; Serbia’s ‘Nole is No. 1


By Caroline Maes


As Novak Djokovic just managed to defeat Rafael Nadal in his favorite tournament, the 2013 Monte Carlo, it is about time to have a look at what fuels the popularity of the Serbian player. (See photo above, left)


“He did a lot in the sport; he did a lot for the country outside the sport. He’s a true figure and really great guy….He’s just a great person, great personality. He might be the future president of Serbia,” said Victor Troicki, a Davis Cup teammate.


Even before becoming the champion he is now, Djokovic was one of the funniest players on the tour. He was most of all renowned for his ability to imitate fellow players. His most famous imitations include Nadal, Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova and John McEnroe.


After claiming the US Open title in 2009, Djokovic challenged McEnroe to come down from the broadcast booth to the court. And while waiting for him, he delivered a very accurate imitation of the American left-hander.


“Novak, this is all we love to see, you know. We walk around in the locker room, we see you smiling and joking all the time and I think the New York crowd needs to see this side of your personality because you're a great guy, you're a great athlete, a great sportsperson, a credit to Serbia, so well done,” said ESPN’s Darren Cahill,  who was interviewing Djokovic on the court in front of wildly cheering fans. 


These imitations don't necessarily make him popular among the players, but they surely please the public. Not surprising as nowadays tennis players are often considered too serious, too neat, in a word: boring! Djokovic brought back fun on tennis courts. What's more, his slides and winning defense shots make him one of the most spectacular players on the tour.

Tyson’s ‘Undisputed Truth’ in his new autobiography 


By Ronny Regard


Mike Tyson’s memoir called Undisputed Truth reveals his vulnerable side and speaks about his life as a boxer and his suffering as a young child.


“I still feel like

a coward to

this day because

of that bullying.

That’s a wild

feeling, being

that helpless.

You never ever

forget that feeling.

That was the last

day I went to

school. I was 7

years old, and I

just never went

back to class,”

said Mr. Tyson on his official website.


And he revealed the ridiculous: “I had a ski suit with the yellow goggles, but I’d never been to a ski slope in my life,” said Tyson, who became boxing’s youngest heavyweight world champion at 20. Considered by many as “the baddest man on the planet” at that time, Tyson was building a successful life as a championship athlete and a husband to actress Robin Givens. A string of bad behavior interrupted his iconic image.


“I didn’t know that Robin and her mother, Ruth, had been on the prowl for a big black celebrity for Robin (to marry) since she graduated college.” He discovered that Robin had pretended she was pregnant to trap him in marriage. They divorced in 1989.


Tyson developed addictions to drugs to stop the pain from his sport.  “The coke and the liquor were like Novocain for me. Once I stopped doing that, all my arthritis came roaring back. I was a cripple. I couldn’t walk, my feet hurt so bad. . . I just wanted to die,” he said.

In one excerpt from Undisputed Truth, Tyson exposes his anger about the prison sentence he received for a rape conviction.  “I was a 25-year-old kid facing six years in jail for a crime that I did not commit.” 


The 47-year-old does not pull punches in discussing his frailties.   “Working on this book makes me think that my whole life has been a joke.” The retired athlete faces one very personal goal “to try to really love myself,” he added.

Once the baddest man on the planet, Tyson (right)  suffered through a bullying as a child. Canada.com

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Premier League’s tributes to Mandela


By Adrien Debargue


There was one minute of applause from fans at all Premier League, Football League and FA Cup matches following the news of Nelson Mandela’s death in December. Tributes from the fields of competition poured in for Mandela who used sport as a way of uniting his country after decades of legalized racial segregation, called apartheid (1948- 1992).


Supporters of Manchester United and Newcastle were the first to pay their respects.  Said Football Association chairman Greg Dyke: “Nelson Mandela had that amazing ability to live through real injustice.”


Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey said: “Nelson Mandela was an inspiration to millions and his determination, courage and forgiveness marked him out as a truly great man. We are delighted to give clubs and their supporters the opportunity to pay their own tributes to Nelson Mandela and recognize his extraordinary legacy.”

 

In 1994, the Liverpool Reds were greeted by Mandela when they went on a tour of South Africa. Football fans in Scotland were asked to applaud at games too. Similar tributes were held at rugby union European Cup matches.

 

The former South Africa president died in his home in Johannesburg at age 95. He retired from public life when he was 85, but he participated in ceremonies at the 2010 World Cup in his home country.

Vettel, above, trails

ladies’ man James Hunt in fan

appeal. Photos:

Mokhim Khan and jmvanelk

The Ballon d’Or no one cares about


By Jennifer Tabet


Outsiders can sometimes win. Just like the

men’s, the name of the women’s Ballon d’Or

2013 winner surprised a lot of soccer fans.

Nadine Angerer, the German goalkeeper,

went home on January 13 with the coveted

prize. An impressive performance

considering she ended up in front of two

of the best performers in women’s soccer

history,Marta and Abby Wambach.


Five-time winner, the Brazilian scorer Marta is used to the Ballon d’Or ceremony. She also remains one of the sport’s legends. Next to her, there’s 2012 recipient Wambach, who scored her 160th goal in the USA colors, breaking the national team’s record for men and for women.


The American player even congratulated Angerer on her Twitter account: “I am really happy for Nadine!” admitted Wambach. “Not only did she deserve it but she was so much fun at the post party! Congrats.”

 

Facing these two impressive competitors, 35-year-old Angerer and her 127 caps won the ‘’FIFA World Player of the Year’’ award as a tribute to her entire career. She mainly owes this Ballon d’Or to her remarkable performance during the final game of the Euro 2013. She saved her team by stopping two Norwegian penalty kicks. Final score 1-0. Germany remained the European champion. Saving her team – it's a habit she developed since a penalty she stopped against Brazil during the 2007 World Cup final.

I have to say that I'm a little surprised, but very thankful.” Admitted Angerer after winning her award. 

 

But who was following this presentation of the  “FIFA World Player of the Year” if, during the same night, the only suspense was “Ribéry, Ronaldo or Messi?” Two World Cups, five European championships and three Olympic medals… neither Messi, Ronaldo nor Ribery has won as many competitions as Angerer did.


Furthermore, none of them scored, like Wambach, 160 goals for their national teams. And Messi still has to win one more Ballon d’Or to have as many as Marta.


But, of course, these numbers are useless considering women’s and men’s soccer superstars don’t square off against each other on the same field. It still is interesting to see how three impressive talents of the “FIFA World Player of the Year” could be forgotten as soon as we saw  few tears from Ronaldo. No one seems to really care about the feminine side of the Ballon d’Or.

Poster:

James Ransome

Picture-alliance/dpa

The NBA’s Raging Bull in 2014:  Joakim Noah


By Antoine Monnet


Is Joakim Noah becoming the best center in the

NBA? If it is still too early to confirm it, it is

important to mention his increasing influence

on the Bulls roster. With Derrick Rose missing

because of injury and Luol Deng recently traded,

Noah appears to be, now, the natural leader of

this team.


“Guys love to play with that kind of player,”

said Chicago head coach Tom Thibodeau.


“MVP! MVP! MVP!” screams the crowd every time Noah makes  a dunk or a nice defensive play. For his second season as an All-Star, the French-American player, 29, stuns and impresses most of the specialists of the game.


With a stats line of 12.2 ppg, 11.3 rpg and 4.8 assists(!), Noah is showing himself as the best center-passer of the moment. That earns him comparisons to NBA legends Arvydas Sabonis and Vlade Divac, both very active and agile for big men at 7-foot-3 and 7-foot-1, respectively. He compares favorably to current NBA centers, Dwight Howard of Houston and Marc Gasol of Memphis.


In March, against league powerhouse Miami, Noah did everything -- everywhere. Passing, blocking, defending on Lebron James, and scoring. At the end of the game, the Bulls won over the Heat in overtime, 95-88. And Noah earned, one more time, the MVP of the game honors because of his 20 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists.


Since the beginning of February, the Bulls developed a good rhythm with a convincing 12-6 record. The 6-foot-11 Noah led Chicago in assists with an unbelievable average of 7.8 per game. That’s outrageous  when you think about absent playmakers Rose and Deng.

 

According to Thibodeau, “He makes the game fun thanks to his vision.” Also,  Noah compiled two triple-doubles (his 2nd and 3rd this season) in wins against the Pistons and Knicks. Only Pacers shooting guard Lance Stephenson has done better – with his 4 triple-doubles.


The team result? The Bulls settled into the middle of the Eastern Conference in playoff positioning with Noah's guiding hands.


It does not matter if the Bulls win the title or not this year. They probably won’t.  One thing is now certain at the United Center of Chicago, however.  Even if nobody ever replaces Michael Jordan, they have found in Noah the hope and the fighting spirit they had lost since the end of the Jordan dynasty. Anyway, Noah knows how to do everything so he could replace any player.

Central to their teams, Noah (left) and Stephenson - NBA/Getty

When starts the new rule?

By Alexandre Mignot


Marcel Sieberg is not happy and he says it. Back at home after Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne (January 2), a Belgian race using cobbles, the tall German cyclist raised a fact that could fuel a new controversy. He found out that the leading and later victorious group  -- formed with 70 kilometers to go --  didn't respect a new rule that forbides the riders from riding on the bike paths.


‘Why do we have new rules?

All the leading group on the

asphalt, the bike path,’ Sieberg

tweeted. «Entire peloton on

the cobbles. And now we

understand why we lost 30

seconds at that moment...

Come on everybody or nobody!

Don't get me wrong. The

strongest guy won KBK: Tom Boonen. No question. But just make it clear for everyone. Is it forbidden or not ?'


What exactly does the rule say? 'It is strictly prohibited to use sidewalks/pavements, paths or cycle paths that do not form part of the course if a dangerous situation is created for other riders, spectators or race personnel by such action or if such action procures a significant advantage over other riders,' wrote the Union Cycliste International in its code, informing everyone that a sanction would be a direct elimination.


Knowing that, why wasn't this punishment applied? Why didn’t the UCI doesn't even follow up on its own rule?  The technique of avoiding cobbles to gain time or positions has been used forever.


One of the riders during the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne gave his view.  Said Philippe Maudien: «If the riders use a sidewalk or bike path in the final and thus create an advantage, I think they should be excluded from the race. But we can imagine a situation where a rider avoids an accident by jumping on a bike path, and the rule should not be take into account. There is therefore a need for clarification.» Yes, by his own employer, the UCI.

The opening weekend in Belgium should have been used as a test for the new rule. It was a real failure. So during the Classics period, expect the controversy to swell.

Free net forever?

Unconscious Superiority and Inequality 

The Black Cyclone could ride forward and backward: ‘I am a cyclist; further, I am a Negro’ 


By Ruben Slagter


At the end of the 19th century, a 20-year-old man was holding 7 world records in cycling, including a world record in the mile. The public booed him because of the color of his skin, however. As the first African-American cyclist to capture a world title, opposition confronted Marshall Walter 'Major' Taylor regularly. 

                                                                                                                        

"… I wish to say that while I was sorely beset by a number of white riders in my racing days, I have also enjoyed the friendship of countless thousands of white men whom I class as among my closest friends,'' writes Taylor in the last chapter of his autobiography, The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World, which came out in 1929.

 

Also known as 'The Black Cyclone,' Taylor retired in 1910 at the age of 32, realizing that he couldn’t win the fight against racism. By comparison, cyclists competed until the age of 40 at that time. The Worcester Whirlwind, another of his nicknames, left a legacy of inspirational words. For example, he questioned whether only white people could be members of the L.A.W., the League of American Wheelman. 


"Negroes who wish to mix with white men are not so plentiful as you think. This great United States government has elevated us, given us education and strength to act for ourselves – for which we are very grateful – but we are still a race as different from others as God first made us,'' he writes – at age 15 – in the American Cyclist Journal The Bearings.


Taylor proved to be stronger than his opponents, whether they were inside or outside the cycling world. He also had a lot of admirers, with Pres. Theodore Roosevelt as the most well-known. His switch to the West Coast of the States introduced him to a more friendly public. Today, more can be discovered about Taylor by visiting the   website http://www.majortaylorassociation.org or the numerous events organized by the association. 

Todd Balf’s 2008 book, A Black Athlete, a White Era, and the Fight to Be the World’s Fastest Human Being, also details Taylor’s life.