Saturday, 27 June 2015

Agonizing, Punishing, Unfair... Why I Detest Penalty Shoot-Outs & The Alternatives


Above: dejected French players Kheira Hamraoui, Amadine Henry, Laura Georges & Arnel Majori react after they lost against Germany in the penalty shoot-out during the women's world cup 2015 quarter-final match (EFE/EPA/Andre Pichette) 

The Women's World Cup quarter-final match-up between France and Germany was end-to-end stuff; it was pulsating, exciting, full of missed opportunities for both teams, but also it remained 1-1 after extra time. 

As a result, the game had to be settled one way or another. Actually, no, it had to be settled the only way, which was penalty shoot-outs. France went out, and I almost shed a tear for them, because they came so close to winning (they played well throughout this tournament), only for victory to be snatched away from them in the end. Having said that, they had plenty of opportunities to score before it went to penalties, not forgetting they had their key player in Tomis substituted in the second half, which really was a poor tactical decision by the manager. It backfired for the French and resulted in Germany scoring to draw 1-1 and going into extra time and later on, penalties. 


What is a penalty shoot out?

A sudden death penalty shoot-out is a method in determining the winner of a football/soccer match that has ended in a (stalemate) draw after 90 mins and an additional 30 mins extra-time. 

How does the penalty shoot-out work?

Each player from each team take it in turns in kicking a ball from the marked penalty spot against an unmarked goalkeeper of the opposing side. It usually starts and ends with 5 rounds. The goalkeeper is rooted in the centre of the goal and s/he has to decide when to dive and make the save from the shooter. The team that scores the most penalties wins. Unlike in a penalty in a match, once the penalty has been taken, it cannot be retaken again by the same player- regardless of whether or not the ball has gone into the back of the net. If both teams are level at 5 spot-kicks each, the shoot-out will continue, up until a player misses the goal. 

Only players who remain on the pitch are allowed to take penalties, and thus, excluding substitute players, as well as players who have played and have been substituted are not allowed to take penalties. 


Why I am not a fan of penalty shoot outs 

  • It places added burden and pressure on the player taking the penalty
  • It tends to favour the goalkeeper more-so than the shooter, given in the main game of football/soccer, the aim is to outscore your opponents by as many goals as you can
  • The crowd behind the goal favouring the goalkeeper to make the save, may distract the player taking the penalty by booing, chanting, whistling loudly or waving their arms
  • It is often seen as a cop-out and a lottery and test of luck, rather than skill

I dread penalty shootouts; I just find them cruel and an awful way to determine the winner of a football match. In these shoot-outs, any team - unless they are really, really poor - can win. Seeing their face of dejection and sadness is a bitter pill to swallow and it feels downright horrible. To see your side come so close, only to have victory snatched away from you via a penalty shootout, it's like they feel like they have let their country down. Having that and relying on that one player carry the entire weight on their shoulders, is just not right in my eyes. Penalty shoot-outs are never fun, especially during a World Cup, European Cup or Copa America match. It's never fun for England; the England team especially has been crap at taking them and we have a poor track record in this department; penalty shoot-outs are intense... and brutal. 



For the winner, it is a hollow victory but for the loser, it is an unfair defeat. If you look beyond the shootout itself, either way, no one actually benefits from this. Why? Because if there was another penalty shoot-out, the probability of the same team winning it again like last time, is too difficult to call. No one can anticipate what the goal keeper will do next, whether or not s/he will dive to the left, right or stay in the centre. 

For all the drama, it is the luck and the injustice that prevails and overrides the emotion and excitement. It is more of a psychological battle between the penalty taker and the goalkeeper. It requires maximum concentration, drowning out the noise from the crowd by being silent but also focusing on their one target: the goal. Do you aim the ball to where you think the goalkeeper would not be able to reach it, or do you aim the ball to where you want it to end up somewhere at the back of the net? It's just as much a question of mind games as it is in kicking -or if you're the goalie saving the ball. 

So many games end in a stalemate or draw and often, soccer is derided for the lack of chances and goals. If there were other ways to settle a match, what would they be and how would it work? 


What are the alternatives to a penalty shoot-out? 


1. Attacker >Goalkeeper = Shootout 

How does it work?:

A series of a minimal of 10 rounds in which the player, right from kick off and starting from the centre spot has 40 secs or 1 minute to score a goal against the goalkeeper, one -on- one. The team with the most goals is the winner. This actually occurred during the U.S Major League Soccer league and was last used in 1999. Titled 'shootout', players start 35 yards out and were tasked with beating the 'keeper in under 5 seconds. A foul by the 'keeper on the player results in an automatic, one -shot, penalty spot- kick. 







2. More Extra time but with less players on the pitch

How does it work?:

Continue with 30 mins extra time play but this time have teams reduce and replace players at progressive times. Similar to the NHL hockey and NBA basketball. To reduce this from occurring too often in the game, each team would be allowed to do this up to 5 times maximum. 


3. Sheffield Rules of 1862 

How does it work?

You have an additional goal area marked either side of the goalposts marked by flags. teams would score points for any number of passing shots through the area between the posts and flags. 


4. Moving the penalty spot back a few yards out 

This could make a slight amount of difference as to who wins, and who doesn't






5. Introducing a second ball, playing with 2 footballs 

How does it work?

2 Players - one on the left hand side of the pitch, the other on right hand side - each have 1 football against the goalkeeper, the goalkeeper has to keep out one or both shots. Players may dribble, take long shots, use trickery and flair to outwit and beat the goalkeeper. The team who has the most shots on target in total, wins.  






6. 5 verses 5 

How does it work?

Same rules applies as normal but only lasts 30 mins. In that 30 mins, a normal game of soccer is played.... except that there is no goalkeeper involved, no off-sides and kick-ins replacing throw-ins when the ball has gone out of play. The team that wins is the one who leads at the end of 30 mins. 



Sunday, 14 June 2015

41 Of My Favourite Sports Teams Logo Designs

Determination, skill, effort, passion and the will to win, not to mention a bit of luck on your side as well.... these are some of the criteria that is needed for any respected sports team to be successful on the pitch, arena or anywhere. 

And whilst not all sports generate as many scores, goals, touchdowns and what-have-nots, what they do have in common is that teams have other ways of generating publicity and interest for fans and taking the brand forward, besides the play. One of these is in the form of the logo: from something that looks simple - yet captures and conveys the feel of and epitomizes what the team and the city/country it represents is about, to designs that really make you go 'wow, that is impressive', in terms of their visual appeal, their concept and how that concept transcends what it may say about the people or area it represents. 

Most sports logos encompass at least one of the following elements: an image of an animal or cultural landmark, a type of sports ball, in addition to a font type for the logo and text and bright, bold and contrasting colours. The popular sports teams, particularly those hailing from North America have a recognizable and unique approach for this. 

Here I have chosen my favourite sports teams logos in no particular order; I have included the official ones, as well as the fan-made ones, and selected 21 official logos and 20 fan-made logos. Just because the fan-made ones are usually better than the official logos. Well, most of them, anyway. 

For me, these designs are clean, simple, with bold and bright colours as well as imaginative, creative and original.  




Atlanta Dream - Women's NBA team 







      

New York Liberty - Women's NBA team










Cleveland Rockers - Women's NBA team 







Minnesota Lynx - Women's NBA team 












Houston Rockets - Men's NBA team







Cleveland Cavaliers - Men's NBA team 



Dallas Mavericks - Men's NBA team 









New Orleans Pelicans - Men's NBA team










Toronto Bluejays - Major League Baseball 











Miami Dolphins - NFL 













Houston Texans - NFL 










Jacksonville Jaguars - NFL 











Carolina Panthers - NFL 











Brisbane Roar - Australian soccer team 










Philadelphia Eagles - NFL 










  St Louis Rams - NFL 












 FC Dallas - Major League Soccer 













Fort Worth Vaqueros FC - National Premier Soccer League












Sydney FC - Australian A- League 











Washington Capitals - National Hockey League 












Boston Brawlers - American football team 








And here are my favourite fan logo design concepts.....




Cleveland Cavaliers by Yu Masuda 











New Orleans Pelicans by TinBacicDesign 










Charlotte Hornets by Eren G. 
















Minnesota Timberwolves by Yu Matsuda 










Washington Wizards by Michael Weinstein 









Brooklyn Nets by Michael Weinstein 












New York Knicks by Yu Masuda 













Houston Rockets by Funkatron101 











Dallas Mavericks by Yu Masuda 










Atlanta Hawks by Stephen Vereen 













Chicago Bulls by Mon Carnet 








St Louis Rams by OSPREYDAWN aka Max O'Brien 









New England Patriots by Max O'Brien












Atlanta Falcons by Max O'Brien 










L.A Dodgers by Derschwigg 

Buffalo Bills by That Guy 












Miami Dolphins X Miami Marlins MLB mash-up logo



















Chicago Bears by TinBacicDesign 










Tennessee Smokies by Studio Simon 











Toronto Raptors by Project Thirty Four 











Friday, 5 June 2015

Backlash Over Bi-Racial Miss Japan 2015 Ariana Miyamoto Highlights How Racial Attitudes Must Change In Asia

(Right: Lou Jing and Ariana Miyamoto) Image sources: Hindustan Times and Crunchyroll

Do the names Ariana Miyamoto and Lou Jing ring a bell? For most people, probably not. 

Lou Jing made heads turn in China after appearing on a reality TV show; she is a Blasian- as in half- black, half Asian. Her father is African American and her mother is Chinese; Ariana's parents are similar; she has an African American father and Japanese mother. She was the winner of the recent Miss Japan 2015 beauty pageant and her win prompted verbal abuse and criticism from critics and some Japanese people because of her Afro-Asian identity, going as far as accusing her of not being Japanese enough. 

In the wake of the fiasco surrounding Miss Japan winner, Ariana Miyamoto, people have gone on record to say how Japan is a very homogeneous society. Well, the same applies to many Asian and most African countries that have homogeneous populations; when you live in a country where everyone is of the same race, it is assumed that there is very little chance of racism happening. But when you are part of a tiny racial minority compared to one group that is larger than the other groups, the chances of experiencing racism in a country, is huge. 

The controversy over Ariana Miyamoto's win just goes to show that racism doesn't just occur in places like the UK and US: countries with multicultural populations. Homogeneous countries are and can also fall foul to racial discrimination, prejudice and intolerance. Asian and African countries - for the exception of say South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya - do not deal with or experience multiculturalism, because such a thing rarely exists in those regions, due to the lack of immigration. Sure they are used to foreigners and visitors from overseas on holiday, but when it comes to individuals born and bred in those countries and being of a different race to themselves, some understand - & many do not understand and sadly choose not to be understanding about the concept and importance of diversity. Being born, raised and lived in London as a British born Chinese, I had experienced my fair share of racism in my daily life, whereas native Chinese in China and Hong Kong, they don't really know what it is like for people like myself, who are born with 2 identities. Until they come and live in the UK and see that racism does exist and is real. 

Identities are so complex - just when you thought you know it all, by being White/Black/Asian/Latino or whatever, there are other elements that come into play as well. Such as your nationality. Race is just one part. Black/Latino, Afro-Asian, mixed race, biracial. With Ariana Miyamoto, it is downright sad and horrendous the way she was treated by some anonymous posters online, whose ideal image of being Japanese is being light-skinned with slanted eyes etc. They don't consider half-casts, mixed race or biracial people, who were born in and are from Japan as being Japanese enough. 

I don't care what race you are, or what colour your skin is - if you are born in that country, or have lived in that country for most of your life, you are technically British, American, Japanese, Chinese, Australian, Canadian etc regardless. 

In the U.S in particular, there is a considerable number of Blasians living in the country; their identities is half African- American and half Chinese/Korean/Japanese in terms of physical appearance. 

It really tells you something when certain homogeneous countries go out of their way to bash the likes of America and UK and calling them out on their racism towards Africans and Asians (which happens still unfortunately & I find it appalling), - when these same homogeneous countries single out and target bi-racial and multi-racial individuals such as Ariana Miyamoto & spewing their racist, anti-Black/White venom, all because they don't look 110% Asian, just like the rest of the country. The hypocrisy is startling, racism and bigotry can not be tolerated under any circumstances; Japan, China, Hong Kong and the others need to wake up & face up to the realization that in the next 5, 10, even 50 years time, more and more bi-racial and mixed race babies will be born in those respective countries. 

The Eastern perception that Blacks and having dark skin is seen as 'dirty' or whatever, is unfortunately deeply rooted throughout history that dates back centuries ago. It is deeply offensive and beyond ridiculous. Beauty comes in all colours, as well as shapes and sizes; although the real beauty lies in inner beauty that goes beyond the physical -ness of it all. 

Japan is a country that prides itself as a society being 'pure' and unique that is not so similar to other countries. By this, I am referring to the fair skin, the slanted eyes, dark hair, you name it. It is the framing of an homogenous 'myth' of looking 110% Japanese by appearance against the multicultural Japan of not resembling being Japanese, because they are of say, mixed-race, biracial origin. 

As much as countries such as Japan excel in areas such as technology, from a social and racial standpoint, a lot of the people have very narrow-minded views when it comes to ethnicity. If you don't look like them, according to them, then you are not Japanese enough. Elsewhere in countries with large ethnic populations and diverse communities, identity these days is much more less to do with the colour of your skin. It's about who you are as a person, the type of person you want to be and other things. The African and Asian continents needs to understand this. 

Ariana's tale and triumph is pretty remarkable - she has turned a couple of heads - for all the right reasons, as well as evoking some hostile and nasty reactions around Japan (which were totally undeserved and uncalled for) - her victory will hopefully be a sign that having a more multicultural Japan is no bad thing, whatsoever. 

If it means changing Japanese people's attitudes, then for the sake of the country & making them less close- minded, then definitely. 

Yabba Dabba.... Don't! The Perennial Rise and Downfall of The Boomerang Channel

After my post on the demise on the Boomerang Channel from Cartoon Network, I thought I would touch upon this a little bit more and dig a little more deeper into its origins, history, as well as to give my thoughts on Turner's rebranding.


About Boomerang: 

The Boomerang Channel is a digital Cable and satellite broadcasting television channel that is owned by Turner Broadcasting System, a subsidiary of Time Warner. Turner Broadcasting, which was owned by media mogul Ted Turner as well as Cartoon Network, merged with (the now defunct) Time Warner.  

Originating as a spin-off of Cartoon Network (Which originated as a programming block in 1992), much of the programming that made up of the core of their programming line-up was part of TBS's Disaster Area, a block of children's programming that aired on their network from 1997-1999. 
   




In 1994, Cartoon Network studios was born; a year later 'What a Cartoon!' debuted with pilot episodes of Dexter's Lab, Johnny Bravo and Cow and Chicken, which later paved the way for their own makeshift title shows. 

It originated as a commercial-free Cable channel in America that made money through subscription fees and product tie-ins. These product tie-ins consist of occasional advertising promoting Cartoon Network and/or Boomerang programming, DVD products. Boomerang's promotional slogan was originally titled, 'It's All Coming Back To You'. This slogan connoted the theme of nostalgia and retrospection. As Boomerang was a classic cartoons channel, it accurately reflected its programming line-up at the time. 

Boomerang had its own original programming block airing on Cartoon Network, debuting on December 8 1992. The block was aimed at baby boomers and was originally airing for 4 hours every weekend. On April 1st 2000, Turner Broadcasting spun off Boomerang as a standalone cable channel. 4 years later, all of the older cartoons on Cartoon Network migrated to Boomerang. The channel consisted of an everyday line of reruns and repeats of classic Hanna Barbera, Looney Tunes, MGM and Terrytoon cartoons. Boomerang Europe was born 5 years later. 

I want to touch a little bit on the Hanna Barbera cartoons from the 1960s and 1970s; it appears a lot of people loathed them and thought they were horrible: for me anyway, I enjoyed Hanna Barbera's output. I totally got it and understand what they were trying to set out to do and I liked their characters. Some of them had comedic elements to them. They had a very sitcom - like approach to them, which I totally get, because a) I am a fan of traditional American sitcoms and b) the set up, their approach resonated with me a great deal. Examples of these shows included The Flintstones, earlier Scooby Doo, Top Cat and Dynomutt and Blue Falcon. Which is why I enjoyed them. 



Source: Toonzone

Whist the 2000s was the start of the eventual decline of Cartoon Network and its rapid slide to mediocrity with many of its classic shows migrating to Boomerang, fans of Yogi Bear, Popeye, Tom and Jerry, Flintstones and Looney Tunes were at least happy to see their favourites back on screen again. Unfortunately however, this didn't last long and sadly, we dreaded the day Boomerang would become a shadow of itself and being past its prime as a children's television network. 

Never did I envisage that after the downfall of Cartoon Network, would I see Boomerang suffering the same exact fate as its counterpart. But its problems and downfall is still sad to see. 

In 2015, the global relaunch of Boomerang coincided with a re-branding of the channel. The re-branding and relaunch saw its classic shows being significantly reduced and with a much greater emphasis placed on promoting its most popular brands, most notably by presiding Hanna Barbera's Scooby Doo, Tom and Jerry and The Flintstones, as well as Warner Bros' Looney Tunes & newer original content, over its lesser known classic counterparts. From its focus on classic cartoons aimed at baby boomers and generation X-ers and Y-ers, the people at Boomerang decided to ditch the viewership that grew up with the classics, in order to cater to the younger demographic, of whom already have Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Disney Channel all to themselves. These days, any classic programming on Boomerang is relegated to post -watershed hours and graveyard slots -, when people are already fast asleep. This means contemporary and well known programming such as Scooby Doo, The Flintstones, Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes are the only shows with a permanent fixture on the schedules. Plus, they are shown 3 times each day of the week, which is absurd. Thus, it has become an endless -yet tedious and repetitive line-up of Scooby Doo and Tom and Jerry shows, made- for- TV movies, day after day, week after week. As for Warner Bros, not all of Time Warner's cartoons are available to air on Boomerang: Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, classic Batman and Superman shows are all made available to other networks. 

For many fans of this once-great channel, Boomerang is best associated with classic cartoons. Today's Turner puts in minimal effort in promoting the older shows and they have completely disregarded the fan base of those shows. Today's Boomerang channel is a disservice to fans of retro cartoons and to those fans who grew up watching this channel, right from its inception. Also, it seems that Boomerang promotes Cartoon Network and its shows more-so than itself. Boomerang is now a clone of Cartoon Network. Boomerang is Cartoon Network 2. It is not that different to Cartoon Network, as just like that channel, it also carries contemporary shows. 

As for the revamped logo, like many people I am not impressed; I'm not keen on the juxtaposition of the Boomerang font and how the word looks as though it is split. I understand it is supposed to mimic a 'boomerang' so to say, but the font isn't good and the Black and white colours make it dreary. The layout is just poor, the overall logo design choice is unimaginative and just dull to the eyes.  




Also, how is a channel like Boomerang supposed to evolve when the line-up is virtually similar to Cartoon Network and pretty much diverts itself away from the original premise of this channel? The line-up is uninspired and leaves a lot to be desired. Variety is what this channel is lacking in so many departments. 

They are moving into a direction that is financially profitable by targeting children, as opposed to moving into a direction that targets people, especially the elder generation who grew up watching the old shows. Boomerang originally existed to satisfy those people; it existed as an alternative to the modern offerings aired on Cartoon Network. They say this new Boomerang is aimed at families; what makes them think these shows on Boomerang today are what adults had in mind for their children? Many of those adults and parents grew up on the classics, & they want to pass that onto their kids. Not stuff like Mr Bean, The Garfield Show, Amazing World of Gumball, Foster's Home of Imaginary Friends, - which in my eyes aren't old enough to qualify as classic cartoons. The cut-off point for classic cartoons for me, is anything from 1940s up until 2006. Boomerang was supposed to be a channel catering to adults, with CN catering to kids. How many children today care for the older cartoons? Do they think they actually care for the classic Yogi Bear, Bugs Bunny or care to know who they are? 

Also, by changing this channel in the hopes of it becoming as successful as Cartoon Network by making it 70% or so contemporary shows, 30% or so of classic shows, Turner Broadcasting and Boomerang execs only care about profit and ratings, more-so than their audience and viewers and in understanding what they want. 

I know I can't stay mad forever on this - I shouldn't be, but frankly, it despairs me to see a channel that I have once loved as a child and teenager become something that no longer represents what it should be about, as well as in celebrating the best of classic animation. 

Change is important, yes it is important in order to keep up with current times.... but you can't just eliminate or get rid of something that means a lot to a lot of people, such as classic cartoons. Oh well, it's another reason why we shouldn't ditch DVDs and YouTube to watch Hanna Barbera, Looney Tunes, Disney Channel and 60s-90s cartoons. 

'Boomerang, It's all coming back to you...' .... not any more it is.




Sources:

Boomerang - It WAS All Coming Back To You, Boomerang Europe, January 31 2015

Boomerang (TV Channel), Wikipedia

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