Cheating and hypocrisy in football

Did he dive? Didn’t he dive? Did he exaggerate a tackle? Was it inside the box or not? Did he use his hands deliberately to control the ball? Do two wrongs make a right?

Football is rife with cheating. But the worst part is that almost everyone involved in the game is either deluded or a hypocrite.

To take just one recent example: the weekend before last Liverpool played Arsenal at Anfield. Luis Saurez, not exactly everyone’s favourite player at the moment, skipped through several Arsenal challenges in the penalty box and dramatically tripped over Czechny the Arsenal goalkeeper. The referee awarded a penalty. Replays showed barely any contact, yet Suarez went down theatrically as if shot in the back. Subsequent replays however showed that there was contact, and thereby by the letter of the law it was indeed a penalty. (Indeed, there doesn’t have to be contact for a penalty to be correctly given, but that’s off-topic). Incidentally, a friend of mine made the point that Suarez was looking for the dive and was on his way to ground anyway, before contact was made. The contact made it a penalty, but it was already a dive. It’s hard to disagree with this argument.

The Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger recently criticised Suarez, saying “It was no penalty. Nobody touched him”, despite contact having occurred. He added “then when they roll down the sock, take the shin pad out like he has been kicked like mad. It is a bit overboard. We don’t need that.” What Wenger means here is that exaggerating a tackle (or lack thereof) to con the referee into punishing an opponent more than they otherwise would (or deserve) is a form of cheating and is therefore wrong. I totally agree. However, this would be far less hypocritical coming from a manager whose teams historically haven’t had the constitution and integrity of wet paper bags. In the same game, every slight Liverpool touch was met with dramatic collapses from Arsenal players, lying on the ground in agony, taking ages to recover from the horrendous aggressive assault on their person…for about 10 seconds after which a miraculously recovery was made. (The only actual harm caused in that game was by an accidental collision between Henderson and Arteta, the latter needing to be stretchered off…because that’s what real physical harm causes.) Surely a dive is a dive, no matter where it happens on the pitch?

Now, I’m not criticising Arsenal here particularly, and I’m not defending Luis Suarez, what I’m saying is that pretending to fake reality to gain an advantage is cheating. Trying to circumvent the rules of the game to gain an advantage is cheating. To take another example which also happens to involve Arsenal (but only because they’re the most recent ones I’ve seen do it): last night’s game against Newcastle saw Arteta take several corners when the ball was quite clearly and deliberately not inside the quadrant. This is an invalid corner and an attempt (albeit a pathetic one) to gain some distance on the set piece. This is cheating! And if you say “there’s a bit of a difference between trying to sneak a foot on a corner and diving in the box to win a penalty” then I’m sorry but you’ve missed the point. Please, tell me which forms of cheating are acceptable or not? Or do we shrug and say “that’s life” or “everyone does it” when it happens in our favour? Who am I kidding – that’s exactly what happens in football! It’s funny how every football manager is a bastion of truth and integrity when his team have been hurt due to cheating, but it’s “I didn’t see it” when it goes in their favour. Worse, they’ll just side with the player despite the cheating, as if it’s just a matter of subjective opinion anyway.

Trying to sneak extra distance on a free kick? Trying to sneak closer than 10 yards to the taker before the whistle has gone? Pulling an attacker down to prefer the red card over a certain goal? Taking the corner outside the quadrant? Pretending to be injured or have been touched in a manner that didn’t happen (inside or outside the box)? Deliberate hand-ball? Kicking the ball away to waste time? Taking advantage of the clock and certain rules (i.e. the goal kick) to waste time? Why is any one of these more acceptable than another?

Again, I’m not defending anyone or singling anyone out for criticism here, because almost everyone involved in football is a hypocrite, prepared to look the other way or sneak any advantage when the ref isn’t looking, protecting their cheats one week whilst criticising the enemy’s the week after. Whatever we’d like to think about cheating or what should be done about it, it happens. Perhaps there are varying degrees, but it’s still cheating. If you really want to stamp it out, start with the only actions you can actually control: those of yourself and your own club. Otherwise, shut up and stop being a hypocrite.

My Top 10 Most Annoying Things

They aren’t my Top ten to be honest, they are just the first ten that sprang to mind. In no particular order:

Parents who blame everyone, except themselves

It’s the teachers. It’s the other kids. It’s the other kids’ parents. It’s the TV. It’s the radio. It’s the footballers. It’s the celebrities. It’s the government. It’s everyone, except you.

Is your child staying out late? Not doing their homework? Has unsavoury friends? Causes trouble? Gets into fights? Takes drugs? Spends too much time behind the TV or computer? You sort it out. You decided to have the child. You brought it into the world. You raised it. You taught it your values. You reap what you sow. Do your job and stop bitching at everyone else for your parenting failures.

Shopping bags that you can’t separate

We’ve split the atom, landed on the moon, established the internet, peered into the origins of the universe itself, created antimatter, and unlocked the human genome. We even invented self-serve checkouts in supermarkets, so why can’t we create a carrier bag whose sides don’t stick together? Yes, I am that post-lobotomy patient standing there for five minutes holding up the queue.

Can’t there be little plastic lips at either ends and opposite sides of the bag to facilitate easy opening? I hate having to waste five minutes of my life picking and scratching and licking the bag all the time hoping no one is watching before I think ‘bollocks, I’ll just carry everything.’

Hip-hop /  R&B

It takes a rather broad and generous definition of music to include these two modern monstrosities of popular culture into the concept of music. If anything 50 Cent does is music then so is my car alarm.

Worse than the bland tuneless repetitive tripe that radios vomit over the airwaves is the semi-criminal underground “gangsta” lifestyle portrayed and glorified to youngsters of lazy parents. No, when you grow up you will realise that being a criminal or part of a gang, or stealing, robbing, shagging around, selling your soul for popularity is not cool or fun. It’s pathetic and parasitic. The best music humanity has to offer will not be found on commercial radio. Until then, it would be great if you just pointed and laughed at the Emperor and switched that trash off. Here’s the thing: no one really likes this “music” – everyone just pretends to because everyone else pretends to like it too!

Animal “Rights” Activists

Some humans will stop at nothing to defend the supposed “Rights” of thoughtless amoral beasts that will continue eating the grass and pooing today and tomorrow and for the next hundred thousand years, as they have done the last hundred thousand years. They’ll even go as far as hurting other humans who actually do have Rights and destroying their property, in the name of animals.

Sure, animals can be killed for a few benefits like: testing drugs, developing medicines, food, clothing, shelter, vermin-control etc. But there’s also the downsides of…wait, oh I can’t think of any.

If animal “rights” activists really care so much about not disturbing animals in any way, shape or form, they should go to a place where their continued existence doesn’t depend on the exploitation of the world around them, i.e. some other planet or reality than this one.

Do you wear leather? Do you eat meat? Do you live in a house? Do you use wood or chemicals? Errrr…stop right there. If animals have rights to all these things then you don’t. Strip naked and head off to the Antarctic (just don’t travel there by bus or plane, of course).

Insects

I know I get in a flap about this a lot, but it really bugs me. My friends know I’m liable to fly off the handle whenever one of these little three-torso’d six-legged bastards enter the room. It doesn’t matter if they crawl or fly or hop, they are all disgusting and should be exterminated. I’ve heard the religious say “ah but they’re part of nature’s balance – they all have a purpose.” Let’s swat this myth right out the sky: insects have NO purpose. If it wasn’t for rotting food and animal poo half of them would be dead – some design flaw there, God, cheers. I can’t wait for the day when we invent waste-atomisers and the insect population starves to death. If I could afford it, I’d have one of those blue electric light thingies at every entrance and exit in my house.

You know how it is: you’re trying to sleep and you hear a whine in the room. You give her a slap and listen for the other noise: some mosquito is whirling around looking to bite you and (this actually happens) when you turn the light on it stops flying and waits. Or one of those big furry bluebottles that just can’t seem to find its way out the window you’ve opened in front of it, the window 6017 times its size. Flies are stupid.

They say your average housefly lives about 20 days – that’s 20 days too long in my opinion. Any insect that violates my property rights dies. They are ugly and intrusive and have no respect. Did you know that insects are responsible for 980 million deaths a year? I can’t back that up but why take the risk?

Chain e-mails

The internet has been around for long enough now for everyone to know that if you forward it on to X number of people, absolutely nothing will appear on your screen. Luck is a metaphorical concept that can’t be transferred, certainly not by browser-based mail clients.

Chain e-mails come in many varieties, whether it be “Microsoft wants to know who is using Hotmail otherwise they’ll delete your account”, or “for every fifty people who forward this picture of a random sick baby plucked off Google Images, [Insert Big Corporation Name here] will donate 10 [enter local currency here] to [enter charity here]”, or “send this on within 5 minutes and have great sex forever” (I happen to know this is definitely false) – they are all deeply stupid. And no, it’s not “a bit of harmless fun”, it’s the perpetuation of irrational and pernicious notions. If you want to support a good cause, say so. If you want to share a joke, send it on. Drop the damn emotional blackmail or insults to our intelligence.

Blatant spelling mistakes

Ok, no one can always write perfectly, grammaratically or otherwise, but there are some errors that are truly shocking and unforgivable. I’m not talking about typos, I’m talking about the wrong freaking words!

Defiantly” does not mean “definitely”; it doesn’t sound the same, it doesn’t look the same, and it doesn’t even mean the same thing! And it’s “could have” not “could of“. And “you’re” means “you are“; it is not the same word as “your“. Could you bear being attacked by a bare bear? Was it where you expected it, or were you dreaming of wearing no clothes? Maybe there was no one else there and it’s all not their fault.

Advertisements

I am defiantly not against the nature of advertisements, I’m against the content: it is criminally lame. As the late Bill Hicks said: “if you work in marketing, kill yourself!” Radio jingles, movie ads, TV commercials – only a tiny proportion are actually clever or make sense. 99% of them are just annoying.

I really wonder what goes on in the head of the people who script, cast, act and approve advertisements. It’s like “what were you thinking? How in any way did that promote your product? It didn’t even make sense! What part of you thought ‘yup, we nailed that! Now let’s wait for the sales to flood it!’?” Perhaps they think “if we piss enough people off with this, they might buy our product hoping we’ll go away!

Relativists

Nope, not talking about Einstein here, I’m talking about the subjectivist types who either
a) explicitly think there’s no such thing as objective right and wrong, or
b) implicitly suppose that since everyone’s different, everyone’s opinion is fair and worthy of merit.

They are both wrong. If I say I can fly, or the moon is covered in gravy, or god made the earth in six days, or there are 72 virgins waiting in the afterlife – I am of course welcome to believe it. I might really really believe it. Hell I might be utterly convinced it’s the absolute truth. Does that make me right? If 6 billion people say the sun orbits the earth but I know the earth orbits the sun, who is right? Right and wrong are matters of objective reality. They are facts accepted by consciousness. It doesn’t matter how far removed the fact is from the sensory input, eventually the chain of evidence stops at someone somewhere being able to point at something and say “this is it.”

Just because everyone has a different opinion, doesn’t mean everyone is right. There are an infinite number of ways to be wrong and only one way to be right. I hate it when people are afraid of being wrong. But fear of being right is worse.

The most annoying thing about the subjectivist position is that it’s inherently contradictory. The subjectivist position basically goes like this: “all opinions (or cultures, or beliefs) are equally valid.” Err, there’s one problem with that: what if my opinion is that all opinions are not equally valid. Therefore, for your position to be true it must entail the validity of my opinion which denies your position. Subjectivism is therefore either false or invalid.

“There are no absolutes”. Grrrr. Are you absolutely sure of that??

Football commentators

Being the most popular sport in the world has its drawbacks. It means that every man and his dog has an opinion on it. That’s fine. The problem is when they give any man a microphone on a huge stage to talk about. It’s worse when they let the dog speak too (although quite frankly anything would be more coherent than John Motson). Sport commentary should be a fine skill: a commentator must assess the entire match before his eyes, the atmosphere, the implications, the talents and strategies on show – isolate the relevant concepts and dismiss the irrelevant details, and bring those points home to the audience in an engaging and unique manner. Basically, a commentator should be doing what most of us couldn’t or would find exceptionally hard to do. A commentator should not prattle on endlessly about statistics or the synchronicity of this match on this day with the wind blowing in this direction.

Football commentators are the worst of the lot. With most of them their job consists of having an enormous list of stats on each player to fire off whenever he touches the ball – irrelevant trivia that the mind glosses over and forgets a moment later – this isn’t commentary; it’s someone reading a database out to you. Others simply do “radio commentary” for TV and tell us exactly what we can see with our own eyes:

“Gerrard with the ball. Passes it to Kuyt. Kuyt crosses to Carroll. Carroll mis-controls. Opposition get possession.”

Due to the miracle of light waves impacting on my retina and being interpreted by my brain as images, I was already of that. In fact, I was aware of it in 1/10th of the time it took you to repeat it back to me after it happened.

Almost all of them avoid making firm conclusions or stating a definite opinion of their own:

“Hmm, that looked offside didn’t it?”

What? Are you asking me?? You’re the supposed expert, you tell me!

From bad puns to awful (and mixed) metaphors, to dreary or grating voices – the entire commentary industry needs a makeover in football. Perhaps that’s (yet) another law UEFA could come up with when they’re done with their racist quota systems? Which brings me too…

UEFA

No, I jest. No 11th item. Besides, this monster deserves a post of its own someday.

World Cup games to remain on free-to-air TV in the UK

If you think this is good news, you need to reconsider your premises and take a reality check.

It’s not good enough to simply say “oh good, this means I get to watch World Cup games for free” ignoring the far more important, and sinister, premise underlying this.

For once I actually agree with UEFA when it says that the government has created “a disproportionate and unjustified distortion of competition on the relevant market.” Incidentally, this statement could and should be applied to government meddling in ALL markets – but most people usually object only when they feel aggrieved, just as most people turn a blind eye to government meddling when it appears to benefit them in the short term. This ruling unnaturally manipulates the market, and prevents property owners getting value for money, and prevents broadcasters competing fairly over coverage rights. You might say it’s unfair on you to have to pay to watch a certain event (as if you have the god-given Right to someone else’s property just because you’d like it, and what events do you have a “right” to watch and which ones don’t you?), but what about what’s fair on UEFA, FIFA, and all the TV companies? Does your “interest” trump their property?

(Also, there are no “free” channels in the UK, given that the British people are subjected to perhaps the most ludicrous and laughable tax ever invented, the TV License; a license that funnels tax money to the State’s official broadcaster, allowing it to compete with proper broadcasters who must actually earn their income.)

A spokesman for the UK department of culture, media and sport said: “We welcome the decision from the EU and continue to support the principle of protecting sports events for free-to-air coverage.” But why are some events exempt from fair (and free) trade and some aren’t? On what grounds does government decide to make certain events “untouchable” simply because they think a large number of people have an interest in watching such events? What if the government decided that these events are so important you must pay for the privilege and judged World Cup matches to be off-limits to the general public (similar to what North Korean has done)? At what percentage interest of the population does this become legally and morally right?

There is no objective answer to these questions, because it really comes down to what a group of bureaucrats generally feel is good or bad for an arbitrary and undefined group of people – and just as that group may grow or shrink, change interests, or have no say at all – their opinion will vacillate and meander too. In other words, they do whatever they think a large enough group will like. If you want an example of mob rule, this is it.

Make no mistake; if you distil the issue to the core you’ll see it is simply this: the government can dictate what property of others it may dish out free of charge to the mob. The government may decide what is of certain significance and therefore worthy of special State privileges. The other side of this fascist coin is that it thereby decrees what form of event or speech is unacceptable – which it already has done in the form of “hate speech” and other politically-correct nonsense.

The government should be a legal arbiter – not a moral one. So long as UEFA and FIFA sell their property to buyers, there is no dispute to resolve. If that means that certain broadcasters are left behind, that’s business. Remember, the only reason the BBC can compete with anyone in the first place is because of tax money and special government privileges. The BBC can’t compete fairly with proper broadcasters because it doesn’t generate enough of its own wealth (this is just one reason why socialism doesn’t work). If the government gave Sky some special law allowing it exclusivity over TV shows, wouldn’t there be an outrage? Why then is it ok to rule some programmes “off limits” to free and fair trade? Why is ok to give ITV a special leg-up too?

This may seem like a minor issue, but if so, it’s only because government dictatorship has become a way of life. We are so used to it being involved in every field from healthcare to science to sport, that we take it for granted and turn a blind eye. But, since government power is the power to use force against citizens, as its power grows, your liberties will necessarily diminish. And its power is growing all the time. Don’t be part of the mob that cheers for more socialist agendas and promises of “equal wealth” or “equal football broadcast rights” – nothing is free. Government interference always costs you. They say “every man has his price”. What is yours? A free lunch? A free state benefit? A free football match?

Sportsmanship and honesty

I was asked recently: “is deliberately missing a penalty cheating?” This came in the wake of several discussions I’ve had about the morality of recent events in football.

A footballer (or any player in a team sport) is employed to play for his club and no one else. There is an implicit and explicit understanding between the player and his employers, and indeed between the player and the fans, and the club and the fans – that there are certain expectations to be realised. To deliberately withhold your obligations is an act of moral embezzlement, and under the right circumstances, perhaps even legal culpability (for example, being bribed to miss a penalty.)

But what if a penalty taker doesn’t believe the penalty has been awarded fairly? Should his conscience tell him to deliberately miss, or tip off the opposition goalkeeper how to save it?

I believe the moral course of action for a penalty taker is to always attempt to score, regardless of the circumstances or his opinions on the penalty decision.

For one, even a striker who genuinely believes the penalty was incorrectly awarded, for example if he saw a defender make a legitimate tackle – cannot be certain he observed the incident correctly. When playing football I have been fouled and got up believing the challenge on me was actually fair – even apologising to my opponent, only to be convinced by everyone including him that it was a foul. The reverse has also happened.

Secondly, by deliberately missing a penalty a striker is appointing himself as referee and moral executioner, something he has no right or authority to do. He is saying “I have considered the incident and decided that it was not a penalty” – a position that only the referee has the power to take.

Thirdly, it is not the duty of a footballer to compensate for a perceived lack of justice or accuracy on the part of the referee. The referee, and only him, is responsible for his decisions, and players should not try to balance scales. It’s precisely because the game needs an objective party with final authority and the best vantage point and advice that we have a referee.

To deliberately aid the opposition is not noble nor virtuous, but treacherous. Intentionally missing a penalty is an act of altruism.

Incidentally, broadening the issue of morality to all areas of the game, in particular deliberate acts of rule-breaking and foul play – illuminates some gross double standards. Diving seems to be the number one moral crime in the game to pundits and fans, but how is this any different to sneaking a few extra yards on a free-kick, or kicking the ball away to waste time, or dragging a striker to the ground if he is clean through on goal? If you deliberately pervert the natural course of a game by stepping outside what is allowed, you are cheating. It doesn’t matter how big or small the offence.

Serena Williams is a hypocrite

I love watching tennis, especially Wimbledon, and I prefer men’s tennis to women’s…well, most of the time anyway, but I watched the women’s final all the same and after Serena Williams’ recent 2010 Wimbledon victory I was compelled to write something that’s been annoying me for some time.

I was raised a Jehovah’s Witness, so I know in no small detail the tenets of the faith, the beliefs, and what it requires of its members.  Now I am as strong an atheist as you could find, so I am careless for anyone bringing any religion into disrepute, and Williams’ achievements on the tennis court are nothing short of magnificent, but her behaviour and lifestyle are totally inconsistent with anybody professing belief in the Christian God, the teachings of Jesus, and most importantly, the behaviour demanded of members of the Jehovah’s Witness sect.

From as early as I can remember watching Williams, this didn’t sit right with me.  After all, any Jehovah’s Witness can testify how strongly the need to witness is stressed.  When does Serena Williams witness?  When was the last time she went door to door?  Who was the last person Serena had a bible study with?  How many people has Serena converted to the faith?  (This article states that Serena does go door to door, “when she has time.”  Bear that in mind as we continue…)

From this official JW article:

“This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) Jehovah’s Witnesses take those words very seriously.

Serena Williams obviously doesn’t.

More from that:

“In short, this world, like a foundering ship, is about to sink! In view of those facts, would it make sense for God to bless each of his servants with material riches, or would God have other priorities for us?” … “At this critical time in human history, God’s people have an urgent work to do”

Urgent work indeed!  Like, say…buying into the Miama Dolphins group.

“The sisters saw a marketing opportunity, Kantarian said, but also a chance to extend their reach in the community.”

Which I guess is what Jesus intended when he said in John 18:36: “My kingdom is no part of this world.

(As a devout Jehovah’s Witness, Serena will of course be familiar with the New World Translation, so I will use that for quoting purposes.)

Not content being the highest earning female athlete of all time, Serena actively looks for way to increase her brand and venture in other avenues of business, such as fashion, commercials, appearing in and writing her own TV shows, and massive sponsorship deals.

But didn’t Jesus say something like:  “Stop storing up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break in and steal.”  – Matt 6:19.  Jesus was right about one thing: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”.  Matt 5:21.  And: “No one can slave for two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other. YOU cannot slave for God and for Riches.” – Matt 6:24

Serena’s actions speak to themselves; she slaves for riches.  Perhaps in all her years of worshipping her God Jehovah (her words) at the kingdom hall, she didn’t hear the story of the young man who kept asking Jesus what he needed to do to be saved: “If you want to be perfect, go sell your belongings and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven, and come be my follower.  When the young man heard this saying, he went away grieved, for he was holding many possessions.  But Jesus said to his disciples: “Truly I say to YOU that it will be a difficult thing for a rich man to get into the kingdom of the heavens.” – Matt 19:21-23

Just how difficult is that, Jesus?

Again I say to YOU, It is easier for a camel to get through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to get into the kingdom of God.” – Matt 19:24

Thanks for clearing that up.  The point is not that she’s rich and therefore incredibly unlikely to be saved (albeit a damn good point), but that being more and more successful in her career and accumulating more and more material wealth and persistently looking for ways to market herself and increase her revenue is obviously her primary concern, and not the actions of someone who wants “to get into the kingdom of God”.

But doesn’t she, like every other Jehovah’s Witness, believe she is living in the last days of this world?  Instead of hanging onto that World Number 1 rank, or writing her own TV Show, or bringing out her own brand of lip balm, or encouraging people to join her fan club, couldn’t she use her remarkable wealth and position to further the preaching work that JWs are famous for?  Perhaps an announcement on her website, or some links to Witness eschatology material?  I guess that wouldn’t sit right with her sponsors though…

I mean, if I really believed that very soon “…there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.  In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short”, (Matt 24: 21-22)… I would be doing my best to avoid it, and make sure other people knew about it too!  Perhaps she just doesn’t “have the time”.

Perhaps Serena thinks it’s enough to just pay lip service to her faith, by throwing in her God amongst the list of supporting people at every tournament win; “I want to thank my god Jehovah” for example.

I guess her God might have a reaction similar to this: “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will.” – Matt 7:21.  It’s fortunate for Serena that her God is a figment of her imagination, albeit a very flimsy figment; perhaps the equivalent of a mental lucky charm.  Except of course that Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in superstition nonsense like lucky charms.  Or do they…

For the 27-year-old, these quirks include bringing her shower sandals to the court, tying her shoelaces a specific way and bouncing the ball five times before her first serve and twice before her second. The three-time Wimbledon champ will even wear the same pair of socks during a tournament run. Williams is so set in her superstitions, she has chalked up major losses to not following her own routine correctly.

Men’s Fitness ranked her the 7th most superstitious athlete of all time.  Yet the Jehovah’s Witness official stance is that superstition comes from Satan.  No practicing Witness would ever wear any “lucky” object, let alone ascribe any benefit to it.

One of the most un-JW things she’s ever done is tell a lineswoman: “I swear to God I’ll fucking take the ball and shove it down your fucking throat.”  Anyone who knows anything about Witnesses knows that profanities are pretty much outlawed.  When I watched the video of her outburst I couldn’t help but remember “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.” – Matt 5:5.

But every time I watch Serena at tennis finals, played on weekends, I’m wondering why she isn’t at the nearest kingdom hall for the public talk and Watchtower study?  Well it’s only a meeting every now and then you might say.  Except I’ve been at meetings and huge conventions where Witnesses have been actively encouraged to forgo work and career for the sake of attending even one event.

I can’t comment on Williams’ personal life, since she refuses to be drawn on this issue as well.  All we know is that she dates.  Yet she is curiously silent on the issue of pre-marital sex.  An interview from the article above:

“I ask her if she still subscribes to the idea of not having sex before marriage.

‘I’d definitely take the fifth!’ she says, laughing uncomfortably as she asserts her right to silence.

I ask her if she’s single.

‘I don’t know. I don’t think I’m single.’

You don’t think so?

‘No.’

You’re not sure?

‘I’m sure, but … I don’t like to talk about that.’ She smiles shyly, and looks away.

And then, a little later, she bursts into a fit of laughter she immediately regrets.”

Now, a little earlier in that interview it’s claimed that both Williams’ sisters remain “devoted to their faith.”  So why is Serena skirting the issue and “taking the fifth” and giggling like a naughty girl who doesn’t want to be caught out?  I’ll tell you why:

Because the official position of JWs is that pre-marital sex or any kind of fornication is strictly forbidden.  The Oxford dictionary defines Fornication as ‘voluntary sexual intercourse between an unmarried couple.’

Flee from fornication. Every other sin that a man may commit is outside his body, but he that practices fornication is sinning against his own body” – 1 Cor 6:18

For this is what God wills, the sanctifying of YOU, that YOU abstain from fornication!” – 1 Thes 4:3

This is how Serena’s god sees people who engage in pre-marital sex:

Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men, nor thieves, nor greedy persons, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit God’s kingdom.” – 1 Cor 6:9-10

Although not a JW source, this page has an exhaustive list of bible quotes regarding pre-marital sex.

So…why isn’t Serena proudly declaring her devotion to these beliefs and stating in no uncertain terms that she is staying a virgin until she gets married, since that is what her faith demands?  What does she have to hide?

Serena Williams’ speech, actions, and lifestyle speak for themselves.  To be a successful athlete and business person requires that one pursue one’s happiness and rational selfish values.  In other words, if she wasn’t so blatantly two-faced, I would really respect and admire her.  You see, everything about Serena just smacks of an ordinary person trying to make a good life for themselves; enjoying their talent; chasing glory and success.  Which I think is admirable, and moral.  Except it’s diametrically opposed to everything being a preaching self-effacing meek “poor” Jehovah’s Witness is all about.  And that is why she is a hypocrite.  She should do the honourable thing and reject all affiliation with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, since she is the worst living example of one.  But then, she might be disfellowshipped and lose her Witness friends and family.  So, like all hypocrites, Serena wants to have her cake and eat it.

Neil Warnock is an Idiot

Many of my non-British readers won’t know who Neil Warnock is, or won’t even be bothered about football (Americans, read: soccer), but please don’t click the X on the browser just yet!

Here’s the background: Liverpool FC in the last two years have gotten very far in the UEFA Champions League competition.Last season we got to the final, (we won it in 2005!) and we are in the semi-finals again this season.This is actually the only silverware we’re competing for at this stage of the season, which means our league games are relatively unimportant in comparison.As a result, the Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez decided to rest several of his key players for Saturday’s game against Fulham, as the semi-final first leg against Chelsea is as close as Tuesday night.

Fulham are battling relegation, which means that the outcome of our game against Fulham is not only important to them, but other teams trying to avoid relegation too.The other teams down there would be hoping Liverpool beat Fulham and “do them a favour”.

None of which is, or should be, a concern to Liverpool.Right?Not according to the bitter cynical irrational rantings of Yorkshireman Neil Warnock.His gripe?Last season, Liverpool also fielded a ‘weakened’ team against Fulham, who actually beat Liverpool and eventually avoided the drop.Warnock’s team, Sheffield United, got relegated.

Here’s what Warnock had to say just before this weekend’s game:

“My advice to Reading, Bolton and the rest would be, if you’re expecting any favours, don’t hold your breath.They will have to do it themselves.”

Yes, and what’s your point?

“The fact of the matter is that if Liverpool were already out of the Champions League and needed to win to get fourth spot, they would play their strongest side.”

Yes, but again, what’s your point?Liverpool are in fact NOT out of the Champions League and don’t need to win to get fourth spot, so they don’t need to play their strongest side.So far, so obvious.

“Instead, I fully expect them to play a weakened team at Fulham.”

As did most people in the country.

“It’s part of a big club’s mentality. They look after themselves and they don’t bother about anyone else.”

Isn’t this part of EVERY sports team’s mentality??Which sports team doesn’t think about just itself?

If you’re a professional sportsman and you have guilt about the knock-on effect of a game YOU WIN, you’re in the wrong business!

“The whole story that Sheffield United were going down and me having a pop at them afterwards was just treated like fish and chip paper by them. Liverpool didn’t care because they weren’t the ones getting hurt by it all.”

Well, actually Neil, Liverpool probably didn’t care because no one cares about your small-time poxy little opinions.

Of course, what Warnock fails to mention is that if Fulham would have ended up getting relegated, they would have gotten hurt.Maybe Liverpool were thinking about Fulham and didn’t want to hurt them by relegating them??

“Integrity, doing what is right for the game, comes way down Rafa’s list of priorities.”

Notice the false dichotomy: doing what is right for the game (whatever that means!) versus doing what is best for Liverpool.

What Warnock doesn’t realise (because he’s an idiot and because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about) is that doing what is ‘right for the game’ is precisely doing whatever is right for Liverpool!The only thing Liverpool should be concerned about is doing what is best for themselves.What is good for “the game” is open competition where clubs are free to play the players they want against any opposition they want.

What kind of a warped mentality could suggest that a sports team (or any business for that matter) should be interested in the wellbeing of its rivals?!

All that aside, Warnock’s Sheffield United had 38 games to amass enough points to avoid relegation.They didn’t. Boo hoo.That’s football.Warnock also forgets the last game of the season, when his team LOST to Wigan Athletic.A win would have kept them up, but they lost. Boo hoo.

What does Warnock expect: that a more successful club somehow has a responsibility to not act in its best interest in case another club could possibly incur an advantage/disadvantage as a result??What if all clubs did this?The bigger clubs would go into games actively looking to not win where possible, after all, who wants to “hurt” another club by beating them?!Pathetic.

As always with this kind of sacrificial mentality, it’s the successful clubs that are to be penalised because they are successful; the clubs with the biggest squads should be forced to play their best teams in EVERY game in Warnock’s opinion.Why?Because they have the biggest and best squads.In other words, the better you are, the more you should be penalised and held accountable for taking advantage of your superiority!

But what about Sheffield United and other small clubs?Why doesn’t anyone talk about them pulling their finger out and wining more games?!

Liverpool did go on to lose in the final last year, but imagine if we would have fielded a full strength team against Fulham.Maybe Rafa would have said: “if only I could have rested my key players at Fulham to avoid tiredness/injury etc, perhaps we would have won the final.”People would have laughed at him probably, and Warnock wouldn’t have had anything to say.

But when a team like Warnock’s has 38 games to get enough points and then complain because Liverpool acted in their best interest, he gets his obnoxious face all over the TV and in the papers.

What is wrong with this mentality?In a word: altruism.Basically, the pathetic notion that acting in someone else’s interest OVER your own is somehow virtuous, more moral, nobler, for the “greater good”.Well, that’s nonsense.Ever club must act in its own self-interest, regardless of the effects on other clubs: play whatever team you want; play however you want.At the end of the day, you will stand or fall based on how successful YOU are – not how other clubs are!

The only people who don’t want to play by this fair and healthily competitive rule are the ones who are afraid; the ones who have something to lose by a fair fight; the ones who seek the unearned; the ones who can’t actually achieve success themselves but beg others to do the work for them; the ones who aren’t actually good enough to stand on their own merit.In other words, people like Neil Warnock.

Salary capping is Evil

I was reading a sport-related article on MSN before, and there was a vote asking readers whether they thought footballer’s salaries should be capped. Over 70% of people had voted yes. I wondered why. Before I venture a guess, let’s answer the question of “should footballer’s wages be capped?”, by extending it to the overriding theme: “should anyone’s wages be capped?”

The question comes down to this: should anyone decide how much money you deserve to earn? If you are employed you’ve reached an acceptable wage that you are prepared to work for and your employer is prepared to pay. To “deserve” a wage is to reach an agreeable figure that your boss is prepared to pay you – that is all that “deserve” can mean, and it is no one else’s business. Now some businesses, such as the entertainment industry, are so huge that the demand for top-quality entertainers forces up the price for the services of such individuals. Demand must be met with supply. Sport is massive business and generates huge amounts of wealth – why shouldn’t the key architects of this business that creates vast profit for millions of people – the players, be remunerated accordingly?

It is the success of private companies that allows them to reward their employees with greater pay. It is the moral right of bigger and better companies, such as more successful football clubs, to attract better players to their team and reward them accordingly. Money talks, and it allows companies to fight fairly over a wanted player. If one club can afford to pay more than another, tough – that is the beauty of money: it allows an objective worth to be placed on items of value. Has the bigger club earned the right to sign a player? Yes! By sheer nature of the fact that they can.

Who has the right to dictate to a private business how it uses its money? There are only two institutions that have the power to do so: any club or association that a company has voluntarily subscribed to, and government. Only the first of these institutions has the right to do so – this is because a company that is voluntarily a member of a business association agrees to abide by the decision of that association. The government however has no right to tell an individual (and by extension a private company) how to manage its own property. The only proper moral role of government is to protect the Rights of its citizens. How much any company chooses to pay any employee is a private matter, and no business of anyone else’s. If the wages of any person were to be capped by an act of government, this would be a gross violation of rights, and monstrously evil.

What about those who have more important jobs in society, like doctors, teachers, fire-fighters etc? What about them? Do I think it’s “right” that someone who kicks a ball around a pitch gets paid the same wage in a week as a doctor might get in a year? In a word, yes. Consider this: by what objective criteria can you decide how much someone deserves to get paid? And how would you enforce such a criteria, without violating individual rights? If you decide that being a doctor is morally worthy of more money than being a footballer, how do you go about reimbursing the doctor according to your standard? You cannot create money out of thin air – all you can do is artificially inflate the price of healthcare at the cost of the consumer so that the doctor gets the money he is worth, in your opinion. But where does this money come from? Or do you take the “surplus” money that footballer’s earn and give it to the doctor? In other words, do you redistribute wealth according to some egalitarian philosophy of equality or perceived “social merit”? In further words, do you ask the footballer to earn the doctor’s money for him; do you ask the doctor to live off the effort of the footballer? No? Madness? Unfair? Evil? Such is the nature and mentality of socialism.

I think I now know why many people think wages should be capped. I think it’s a result of a socialistic mentality (especially common in the UK): those on “too much” money somehow owe their excess to others. Those on “too little” money are owed more from others. What the socialistic mindset really breeds is this kind of thinking: “your extra money should be mine!” And of course, someone lower down the pay scale is thinking the same of you. Do these people think money grows on trees? The reason some professions pay so much and others pay so little is this: demand. Demand is met with production, and production is the source of all wealth. If, some day, sport massively declined in popularity, so would wages. If people feel there is something immoral about how much sportsmen are paid, there is only one solution: use your individual power as consumer to not finance that industry. How many people who complain about huge wages will give up their Sky TV, their season tickets, their replica shirts?? Not many. They want world class footballers but without the wages that go with them. They want hundred-thousand capacity stadiums, but without the industry that will pay for them. They want some of ‘their’ money back from the superstars who earn it, yet keep paying over money every week. How will their wishes be met?? Somehow. In other words: at someone else’s expense.

If we are going to complain about mediocrities being paid inflated sums of money, let’s start with politicians. Only politicians can vote themselves payrises that aren’t connected to any production or merit. If the government decides that you should pay an extra 10% of your wages to them, because they say so, that is all that’s required to make it law. And unlike sport, you have no choice in the matter. But that’s a subject for another article.

If the mentality of capitalism was more abundant, people would admire those more successful, not be envious. People would respect production. People would understand that wealth is not a finite resource to be scavenged and shared by a non-objective mob vote based on immoral notions of “merit” – they would appreciate that wealth can be created, and demand is met with supply, and the only thing anyone can claim to deserve is what they’ve earned by the mutual agreement of other people. That is why nobody has the right to tell any two people how much they may pay each other. Anyone who claims otherwise is immoral and invoking an evil philosophy.

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