2016-02-07 (Sunday)

Today I learned, that:

There are many ways to enjoy life, and today in Brazil is of course a special Sunday, in the middle of Carnival, when many people forget about their daily chores and go wild to feast during what many of them consider being the most important event of the year.

Besides New Orleans, carnival does not attract so much attention in the USA, and furthermore today is Super Bowl 50, featuring Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. For many people in the USA, this event is as important as any carnival celebration could ever be, with betting, gathering family and friends, and having a party! Let me give you some remarks and opinions about my experience of NFL:

cropped-falcons1994.jpg

The photo above was taken at Georgia Dome on September 11 (!), 1994, when Atlanta Falcons played their first home game of the season against Los Angeles Rams and won the game with 31 – 11. I was accompanied by two fellow Brazilians, Claudeir and Keiser, and of course we had a good time.

I have not been in the US during a Super Bowl game, so I cannot give personal reflections about that party, but I left Atlanta two days before Super Bowl XXXIII in January, 1999, when the same Atlanta Falcons ended up losing to Denver Broncos (already a team in the finals back then), much to the disappointment of my colleagues at Philips in Norcross. So far, it has been the Falcons’ only participation in a Super Bowl game, let us hope they will come back and win some time in the future.

All Super Bowl games are using Roman numbers, last year was XLIX and in 2017 it will be LI, but today it is 50 in Arabic numbers, how come?

Despite being considered underdogs, I believe that Denver Broncos will raise their third Super Bowl trophy tonight, leaving Carolina Panthers still without any championship title, but in sports anything can happen, so let us see…

Update 2016-02-08: Life is wonderful, Denver Broncos won against all odds, as I had anticipated above, inverting the old saying ‘the best defense is a good offense’ to ‘the best offense is a good defense’ !

Finally, calling a sport Football, when the only time that the ball is kicked on purpose by a foot are the occasional scrimmage and free kicks, seems to me quite overly exaggerated. The most import actions are of course the ones when the ball is carried by an offensive player inside the opponents’ end zone, thus scoring a touchdown. But that naming occured already 140 years, in 1876, see reference 1 below, so we are stuck with it!

… That’s what I learned in school!

Refs.:

1: American football

2: Atlanta Falcons season 1994-1995

3: Super Bowl champions

+: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-02-03 (Wednesday)

Today, I learned once more that:

As it happens every year around this time, one of the most ridiculous world championships is under way. During one week, eight countries are represented by their national teams to decide which one is the best in the world in a sport called bandy.

If you do not know what bandy is, think of it as a mixture of football (real football, not American, aka soccer), field hockey and ice hockey. From football has been taken the football ground, the 11-person team and the 2 x 45 minutes game time. Field hockey has contributed with the hooked stick. The size of the goals are intermediate between football and ice hockey, and ice hockey has contributed with the ice and skates. The only original thing with bandy is the small ball, extremely difficult to see if you are on the grandstands of a bandy game.

bandycountries

The countries (in green), where bandy is played

The international bandy federation (FIB), with headquarters in the Swedish city of Söderhamn, has 32 member countries, of which the eight teams highest on the international ranking participate in the supreme division to compete for the world championships title. They are divided into two groups of four countries each, with the four best in group A and the other four in group B. In three rounds, their is a round robbin where all teams meet the others once. After those games, the team in position 1 in group A plays team number 4 of group B, the second team in group A plays the third team of group B, etc.

And once more, for the fifth time in a row, everything points to a final game between Russia and Sweden, and a bronze medal game between Finland and Kazakhstan. The two first rounds of group A have resulted in scores of 9-1, 9-1, 11-4 and 10-2, with Sweden and Russia beating Finland and Kazakhstan.

bandy2015

Sweden and Russia playing in the 2015 world championships. Photo by Martin Henriksson/FIB

So, why go through this weekly ordeal to end up with the same nations, Russia and Sweden, determining again who is the best in the world. Let them play a series of best-of-three games, one in each country and, if necessary, a third game in a neutral country.

Update 2016-02-07: It is always difficult to predict, especially about the future! Sweden underestimated Finland in one of the semifinals, losing the game with 3-2. Russia then beat Finland 6-1 in the final, and Sweden took the bronze medals.

… That’s what I learned in school!

Refs.:

1: Bandy

2: Federation of International Bandy

3: 2016 Bandy World Championship

+: What did you learn in school today ?