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Friday, 5 December 2008

Is F1 Running Out Of Gas?

A busy week for the Almost Daily Sports Blog. Three posts! You'd know exams are around the corner....

So Honda have withdrawn from Formula One. Wow. the credit crunch has bit hard on the world's most glamorous sport. That a car manufacturer should decide to leave a luxury sport in a time of economic down turn is not surprising. What is surprising is the timing of the announcement. Honda were said to be close to having a much improved 2009 and, under Ross Brawn, had tested next year's car in Barcelona in recent weeks.

There are still hopes that a buyer can be found for the team, particularly since the car giant are expected to be willing to take a nominal fee to shift the team from it's books. Yet in such a recession, who in their right mind would be willing to take on a team that has an annual operating budget of almost $500m??

I've been following Formula One for over fifteen years. My earliest memories are of private racing teams winning Grands Prix (Ferrari aside). Williams were the dominant team then, today they are small. This is due to the advancement into the sport of giant car manufacturers. They viewed F1 as an expensive advertisement for the superiority of their cars. Yet now, when the cash runs tight, F1 could be the first thing they drop.

I have it on good authority that there are three more teams in danger of dropping out of the sport in the short-to-mid term. That turns the sport into a farce. Who would watch 12 cars race for two hours?

The problem is not just that teams are pulling out, but that it is impossible for teams to join. Eddie Jordan started Jordan F1 and scored points the first time his cars went to the grid. That could not happen today due to the exponential increase in spending that the sport has seen. And now the cash has dried up, so that money is even more difficult to come by. It is a vicious circle. I do not see a way out. The 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix may yet turn out to be the sport's grand farewell...

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Thinkin' Of Z

I'm a little slow on this one - it's a busy week in college, and in my own personal life too. On Monday, Peter King announced in his Monday Morning QB article on si.com that the much-loved Dr. Z is recovering from two strokes he suffered on November 20th and 21st. The title was aptly Dr. Z is best football writer of our time. Simple, truthful.

I'd just like to pass on my very best to Paul Zimmerman and Linda, The Flaming Redhead. Z is a great writer, though that's almost irrelevant at a time when his health is at stake, something obviously far more important. Describing Z to a non-football fan just now, I described his impact like this.

There's just so many run of the mill writers today that don't contribute anything to an articles and then there's grumpy farts like Z who's pieces tread that delicate line between being factual and insightful while retaining an input from the writer's actual personality.

I'm a grumpy fart too. That's a compliment toZ in a rant from me. What I would love is to have his deft choice of language, his humour and most importantly his knowledge and passion for the sport. Z picked the Giants to win XLII you know, and he in a style which encapsulates the man.

As an Irish American Football fan who has learned so much about the sport and its history from Z, and someone who would love one day to be paid to write about sport, I genuinely hope that we'll get to read his views on XLIII as well.

Get better Z.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Golden Goodbye For Oscar?

So Oscar De La Hoya has said that he's not going to retire after he fights Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas on Saturday, preferring instead to fight Ricky Hatton in Wembley next year.
Christ. Another clown and another travelling circus. Just what boxing needs.

I really couldn't use any other picture....

Oscar burst onto the scene at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 as a blubbering young man not long off burying his mother. His sad story captured America's heart (oh what we'd give for another boxer to do the same now... a Heavyweight per chance... Too bad Dick Ebersol doesn't think boxing deserves a spot on NBC any more...) and within two years he hadbecome a Champion. Since then, the Golden Boy has won titles at five weights and has undoubtedly become the sport's biggest pay-per-view star.

Saturday's fight was to be his goodbye, in a town where he is loved, against a 'name' fighter that he should soundly beat because of their difference in size. Sure, Manny will have the speed, but as we saw in Hatton's recent demolition of Paulie Malignaggi, power is king.

Oscar will win on Saturday. The fight will do reasonable business - lower than expected on account of the downturn but probably somewhere near 1,000,000 buys at $54.95, pleasing bosses of HBO. And then... Oscar won't go. In a comeback as unwelcome as Hendrix's vomit, he'll be back next year, for another 'one last fight.'

I love boxing. It is art. I mean that. Nothing beats the purity of the sport and nothing matches the excitement of two gladitorial copmetitors giving their all. Yet as a business, it has many failings, among them the reluctance of a former star refusing to go away.

Oscar - go away.

You've got money, you've got a family and most importantly you have your health. You've given the sport some and taken away a lot more. Fight Saturday, win Saturday and then (and I mean this with all the love and goodwill in the world), fuck off.