Space Jam 2

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For five hours on February 21, 2014, every Looney Tunes and basketball fan had a mental breakdown. Could the decade of rumors of Space Jam 2 actually come into fruition? It was all too good too be true, and apparently it was.

Space Jam, a movie, along with The Sandlot, that defined my childhood is one that I can watch an endless amount of times. The umbrella hat that Bill Murray wears while playing golf with Larry Bird and Michael Jordan and Stan “fixing a divot” will stay with me forever. This movie is about as influential to creating the person I am today as anything else, and the news of a sequel brought out mixed emotions.

Space Jam 2 was as real as any other movie on Friday with “producers” being named and LeBron James as the leading actor. Charlie Ebersol, a producer on NFL Characters Unite, a documentary on four NFL stars and they stories, was named as the producers for this new film in a story from deadline.com

Pandemonium ensued. Young adults were ecstatic that the childhood favorite was being remade and those same young adults were furious that the childhood favorite was being remade. People were saying, just as the 13-year-old girl who blocked Charles Barkley on the playground did, “Be gone wannabe, be gone!”

With LeBron James solidifying himself as the best player in the world, and having two championship rings under his proverbial belt, it made perfect sense. It was also yet another way for LeBron to carry on in Michael Jordan’s footsteps.

Space Jam 2 has picked up steam over the past couple of months with thescore.com posting a hypothetical picture of LeBron with Bugs Bunny and a Space Jam mod in NBA 2K14, making it possible to play as the Tune Squad or the Monstars.

The hype was short lived after Brian Windhorst, and ESPN NBA analyst tweeted “Well it was fun while it lasted. LeBron sources refute Deadline report, there’s no Space Jam 2 or Warner Bros. project in works.”

When it really comes down to it though, it is for the better. Space Jam grossed about $230 million worldwide and the effect it has had on culture could never be surpassed. At best, the sequel would be just as good.

The soundtrack gave us one of the best rap collaborations of the 90s. B Real, Busta Rhymes, Coolio, Method Man, and LL Cool J all worked together to create Hit ‘Em High, the Monstars anthem. The I Believe I Can Fly music video is R. Kelly walking through a cornfield with the movie playing behind him. And who hasn’t memorized the first four lines of the theme song.

Everything about the movie was perfect. So perfect in fact that the website created in 1996 is exactly the same today as it was 18 years ago. So perfect that Warner Brothers was able to get away with subtly asking Patrick Ewing if he
had problems with his sex life stemming from his basketball talents being stolen.

So perfect that I still get goose bumps when Michael takes off from half-court and turns into Mr. Fantastic, extending his arm to solidify the Tune Squad’s 50-2 second half run and winning the game. So perfect that the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective felt it was worthwhile to compile the box score and stats for each player.

The original movie featured Michael making a bet with Mr. Swackhammer, voiced by Danny DeVito, to give his NBA compadres their powers back if the Tune Squad won. A story like that can only be copied, not improved. I guess the fact that Space Jam 2 was denied is a good thing, but the 5 hour long excitement was fun, and that will always stay with me.

A Single Story

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The effects of a single story can have a drastic and serious consequences on the lives of multiple groups of people.

Being able to distinguish between real a “fake” news is an important skill, although it may not seem so at a glance. Seeing the world through stereotypical lenses opens up an individual to unconcious bias, leading to discrimination on unfounded grounds.

Simply imagine the feeling of ecstasy when Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in three sets or when Jackie Robinson made his debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers against the Boston Braves in 1947.

Overcoming the idea of a single story is a rejuvinating feeling that people of all backgrounds can get behind. Today, however, we have seen new examples of a single story affecting sports in a negative way.

The current travel ban that the U.S. has instituted, as the president of FIFA has said, will be taken into consideration as our country competes for the bid to host the World Cup in 2026. Simply banning all refugees and a majority of people from traditionally muslim countries on fear rather than facts has contributed to the damages of a single story creating a false narrative.

Deragatory or overgeneralized statements lead to a skewed viewpoint of the world that we as humans inhabit. All people a prejudices, whether they know so or not. The real test is how we react when those prejudices are challenged, struck down, and defeated.

John Green and AFC Wimbledon

CL4M_ZbWEAAF-uD A maintenance worker tends to the field at Kingsmeadow, AFC Wimbledon’s home stadium in Kingston upon Thames, England. John Green uses advertisement money from his YouTube channel’s series featuring the team to sponsor the North Stand.

A 2002 decision on the fate of Wimbledon FC has inadvertently created one of the most inspirational and incredible sports stories in modern history.

Wimbledon FC, a team based in southwest London from 1889 to 2002, competed in relative obscurity for the majority of the club’s existence, allowing for the use of the 15,876 capacity Plough Lane as a viable option for a home stadium. During the 1980’s, however, the team quickly rose from amateur leagues to the Football League after three consecutive Southern League championships between 1975 and 1977.

The team quickly rose through the four top professional divisions to reach the First Division in 1986, reaching a peak of success for such a historic club with a victory over defending First Division champions Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup at Wembley Stadium.

The Hillsborough Stadium Disaster of April 1989, an event that led to the death of 96 and injury of 766 people attending an FA Cup semi-final game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, resulted in the release of the Taylor Report in interim form in August 1989 and fully in January 1990, a document regulating safety for top division stadiums.

The disaster was caused by human crush, stemming from overcrowding of standing-room-only areas and allowing more than capacity into the stadium in an attempt to ease overcrowding outside.

The Taylor Report required all top-tier teams to convert to all-seater models and that all ticketed spectators have a designated seat, as opposed to some being obliged to stand. The report also required a limit on the sale of alcohol within stadiums, crush barriers, fences, turnstiles, and other aspects of a stadium in regard to spectator safety.

Wimbledon FC’s rapid rise meant that they had not been able to raise a revenue at a rate that was comparable to the success on the field. Being unable to renovate Plough Lane, the team was forced to share a stadium with fellow London club Crystal Palace in 1991.

The team continued to play in the First Division until they were relegated in 2000. Owner Sam Hammam attempted to move the team Dublin to Milton Keynes and Dublin, Ireland multiple times through the 1990’s in search of a personalized stadium after feeling a lack of support from local government to fund a new stadium for Wimbledon FC. He sold the club in 1997 to two Norwegian businessmen, Kjell Inge Røkke and Bjørn Rune Gjelsten.

Much to the opposition of Wimbledon FC supporters Røkke and Gjelsten decided to move the club north to Milton Keynes in order to prevent the club from folding. The Football League refused to allow permission to move the club, to which Wimbledon FC filed an appeal, leading to a Football Association arbitration hearing.

Lawyer Raj Parker, Aston Villa operations director Steve Stride and Isthmian League chairman Alan Turvey made up the Football Association independent commission who voted by a two-to-one majority that the owners of Wimbledon could end 113 years of history and uproot the club 56 miles to Milton Keynes on May 28, 2002, renaming the team MK Dons, after the Wimbledon nickname.

Disgruntled and understandably frustrated Wimbledon fans decided that the best course of action to combat the relocation of the generationally admired club was to form their own, from scratch. The only stipulation? The club was to be 77% owned by the Wimbledon Football Club Supporters Society. A stark contrast to the Wimbledon FC side that had left the area less than a week earlier.

By June 13, 2002, the city of Wimbledon had already conceived the idea of a community-based club named AFC Wimbledon and announced to fans a new manager, kit, crest, and stadium. The team held open trials on June 29, 2002, for 230 hopeful players in order to assemble a competitive team before the start of competition in the 9th tier of English football in August.

The team played in front of fewer than 50 fans during away games. Home games at Kingsmeadow drew in over 1000 spectators in support of the newly founded team. Success of AFC Wimbledon felt like witnessing the success of a child to supporters and local who had followed Wimbledon FC for the entirety of their lives. The community of players, managers, and fans feel same the family values of the club as they do for their own family. Each group in support of AFC Wimbledon has a part to play in line with dreams of reaching  First Division football again.

AFC Wimbledon’s success rivals the success that Wimbledon FC saw in the 1980’s as the current club earned promotion from 9th Division Combined Counties League Premier Division to 4th Division Football League 2 in only 9 years. The 4th Division through to the 1st Division in English football are regarded as League Football, or truly professional.

john-green-4-3-at-wembley184-3134942_613x460     John Green at an AFC Wimbledon game in his seating area. His sponsorship has allowed the club to continue to succeed despite being majority owned by fans. His celebrity status has also garnered more interest in AFC Wimbledon as a whole.

This promotion caught the eye of John Green, a critically-acclaimed author, filmmaker, and YouTuber. The Fault in Our Stars author was included in Time magazine’s list of 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2014.

Green and his brother Hank run a gaming channel among other topics on YouTube. After hearing the story of AFC Wimbledon, Green decided to create a YouTube series managing the team in the video game FIFA 14, attempting to win the league title. The videos reached thousands of people, bringing in advertising revenue for Green.

After hearing about the story of the Wimbledon club and the love that the community has for such an overachieving club inspired Green to use that advertisement money to sponsor the team itself. His famous acronym “DFTBA” which stand for “Don’t Forget To Be Awesome” can be seen on the back of the teams shorts in both real life and FIFA.

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As he continued to gather revenue from the videos he posted to his YouTube channel his attachment to the actual club only grew stronger. A year later, Green used his ad revenue to sponsor the newly built North stand. It was appropriately renamed John Green Stand.

Currently, AFC Wimbledon play in the 3rd Division, the same league as MK Dons. They are the only club formed in the 21st Century to reach League football in England and are currently seven spots out of the playoff for promotion to the Football Championship and two spots above MK Dons in the English League One table.

The differences between American and English sports culture are evident in the story of Wimbledon professional football. A professional team in the United States move cities seemingly on a season-by-season basis in pursuit of more revenue, disregarding fans, culture, and history that may surround a franchise.

The connection between Wimbledon FC and the city of Wimbledon’s people was so strong that they felt it was a better option to start a team from the bottom of professional football and work their way to glory than to simply support the old Wimbledon club in a new location.

The Green Bay Packers are the only publicly owned professional franchise in the United States having sold stock in 1923, ’35, ’50, ’97, and 2011. The first three stock revenue saved the franchise from bankruptcy while the second two were used to raise funds for stadium renovations. The franchise has 360,760 stockholders who own a collective 5,011,558 shares. The shares, however, do not grow or diminish and there is a limit of 200,000 total shares to prevent a majority owner.

AFC Wimbledon is owned 77% in part by its fans meaning that they must form their own sense of revenue in order to pay player wages, operating costs, and League fees. The people of Wimbledon invest in their club simply to keep it functioning and players competing at a high level. Green Bay Packers fans purchase stock mostly for the novelty of “owning” a piece of their favorite team.

Sometimes it only takes one person to bridge a gap between cultures, traditions, and societies. John Green’s endorsement of AFC Wimbledon has helped give a team that has accomplished an unprecedented amount in its short history a realistic hope of play Premier League football again. Although, he thinks of his sponsorship as an obligation, rather than a random act of kindness.

 

 

 

 

 

Televised Soccer in the U.S.

SBI Soccer is an informative blog that allows for access to quick and accurate stories about the world of professional soccer.

A recent article about television schedules made me think about societal norms in sports that we have as Americans. Hockey, baseball, football, and basketball are the standard for professional sports in this country, but soccer is closing the gap.

Multi-million dollar deals are already in place for NBC, FOX, and ESPN to broadcast certain leagues or tournaments and the growing U.S. market for professional soccer has proven these television rights a worthy investment.

Not only has nationally televised soccer drawn interest from people who, traditionally, are not the biggest fans of the sport, but EA Sports FIFA has made an undisputable impact, especially on young adults.

Being able to interact with a medium in which a person is not too familiar encouarges them to become more informed. Playing a video game and actively interacting with real teams and real players creates an interest in what these teams and players are actually doing on a weekly basis.

The majority of Americans are deadlocked on domestic sports, and even on some occasions dismissive of a worldwide sport like soccer. However, those who seem to be ahead of the curve this time is the television networks.

A Team and A Growing City

 

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Beersheba, a bustling city of 220,000 in southern Israel, has been viewed traditionally as underdeveloped and poor comparatively to other major cities in the region. However, with the recent successes of Hapoel Beer Sheva, the city’s highest ranking professional team, that view has begun to shift.

In a New York Times interview, Ido Ellenbogen, a local bar owner said, “There is no similar team in Israel. The city’s mood is influenced by the team. If the team wins, the city is happy. If the team loses, everybody on Sunday is depressed. This team is part of the roots of the city.”

The team, which was founded in 1949, has seen mostly losing seasons in their history. Despite consecutive titles in 1975 and 1976, the team has not enjoyed much success on or off the field.

Despite that and the limited resources the team has compared to larger rival clubs like Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Beer Sheva was able to capture the Israeli Premier League title for the first time in 40 years.

A team that has not been afraid to go against the grain did just that in order to get the team in a position to contend.

Alona Barkat, and Israeli business woman purchased the team in 2007 and made an emphasis to increase youth development and community connection. She is the only woman to own a professional soccer team in Israel.

Since this purchase, the team and city have seen parallel and exponential growth. Major tech companies such as EMC, Deutsche Telekom, Paypal, Oracle, IBM, and Lockheed Martin have all moved into the area in recent years, creating between 20,000-30,000 tech jobs in the process. Beersheba also the future home of the Israeli National Cyber Bureau which offers a special income tax incentive for cyber security companies, and was the site for the relocation of the army’s intelligence corps units.

Ben-Gurion University of Negev has since seen increasingly rising interest in its cyber security graduate program with the construction of these new tech companies in the area, leading to an ever expanding campus and the arrival of young adults in growing numbers.

The economy of a typically underinvested area is currently booming, making Beersheba Israel’s fastest growing city. The growing number of people and the increased wealth of the area have all contributed to the success of the city’s soccer team.

Roughly 100,000 of the of the city’s 220,000 people celebrated Hapoel Beer Sheva’s championship in 2016 by gathering in the streets and enjoying the unique event with their neighbors. This result was not just a flash in the pan, but may look to be a crash in the box.

Following their miraculous title campaign in 2016, they have won results against legendary Greek side Olympiakos and against 47 time and defending Scottish champion Celtic. They were also able to beat Italian side Inter Milan home and away, earning a matchup with Southampton, a team that has played in the top flight of English soccer since 2012.

Barkat has said that she has fallen in love with the city, people, and sport that has brought together a community of a multitude of backgrounds. An Israeli society of Jews, Muslims, secular, and religious people have accepted one another in common support of a team that has won the city over.

Hapoel Beer Sheva has seen its share of setbacks, however. Not only this club, but players that have recently arrived after having played for other clubs, as well. Midfielder Maor Melikson was a part of the 2006 Maccabi Haifa team of northern Israel, that was forced to play a Champions League game against English giants Liverpool in Kiev, Ukraine after a rocket struck the team’s stadium during the Second Lebanon War. After Melikson’s move to Hapoel Beer Sheva, the team was forced to move a match to Cyprus because of Israel’s launching of a military operation in Gaza that brought Beersheba under fire.

Before a recent Europa League game against Turkish club Besiktas, the club urged fans, a majority of whom are Jewish, to seek out informed advice from Israel’s foreign ministry before making the decision to travel to Istanbul to cheer on their team. Last year, a suicide bombing in Istanbul targeted a Jewish tour group and dozens of people were killed after an explosion outside of Besiktas’s Vodafone Arena in December.

A constant threat of turmoil and an uncertainty of the future of such a community connected club have not stopped the supporters from taking buses by the dozens to Turner Stadium in Beersheba to cheer on their local club who are currently on pace to win a second consecutive Israeli Premier League title. The community and team have grown together creating a culture that has taken a precedent to political and personal differences. A unifying entity in a traditionally divided part of the world can be an example of the way an entire community can truly believe in one singular goal, and create a vibrant and successful city behind such a belief.

Writer Roles

The role of the writer has taken on new importance in recent months. With respect to high ranking US officials, it is important for journalists to hold them to truths and keep them accountable. The ability of the writer to tell a meaningful and factual story is an art form that should not be taken for granted.

As a writer is concerned, there is no better accomplishment than recieving feedback on a piece. Taking into account the due diligence that is required for effective reporting on any topic, it is a refreshing experience to interact with an audience that feels strongly about something in print. A writer should interact with his or her audience and ensure that those people’s questions or concerns are heard. The job of a writer is simply to inform the public about a certain topic and conversing directly with a reader is an easy way to accomplish this.

Writing internet blog posts or sophisticated and in depth feature stories all need to have readability in common. Analysis and understanding of how a newspaper, web page, or magazine is laid out can sincerely affect the way a story is perceived. An important, almost essential, role of a writer is to understand how a piece is going to be presented in print and write effectively according to that model. A careful understanding and selection of words can be an important attribute of a writing style. If a writer can get a reader to challenge his or her own beliefs, while also questioning to writers motives, that is an effective piece.

The important thing to keep in mind as a writer is that it is essential to connect with readers on some level. Keeping that sense of human interaction, though only through words, can determine the effectiveness of a writer, piece, or organization.

Traditionally Untraditional

Hello, and welcome to Sports Impacts on Culture and Politics. This blog will research and try to find why there is such a strong emotional relation between culture and sports, as well as how political decisions affect this relationship. The examples are many and this blog will work to analyze how these three aspects of a society are intertwined.

Writings will be more of an analysis style as opposed to traditional blog post. Sports Impact on Culture and Politics will have a global focus and share the findings, information, and ideas with readers of this blog. Soccer, Basketball, and Baseball are all globally branded whether it be Latin America, Europe, Asia, or North America. These three sports will be the predominate topics.

I am always drawn to sports since a young age. I enjoy watching, playing, and learning about the history and growth of sports throughout the world. I am mostly interested in the way that sports affects people. Why communities have such a strong connection to a team? Is there a line drawn between profit and community value for and organization? These are questions that I would like an answer to.

This blog will relate to my life in terms of gaining more information on things that I enjoy. I am committed to conducting valuable research and analysis because I am personally motivated to find new information. I would like to know more about what I write about simply for my own benefit, as well as to any others who would like to read something of this sort.

I would most like to connect with feature sports writers. The stories that they report on are traditionally untraditional and I am always intrigued by them. The individuals and communities that are often reported on have an interesting and unique story that I would like to learn about for myself.