All posts by bryanbeaird

World Cup Expansion- How much is too much?

My favorite sporting event only comes around every four years. No, its not the Olympics like some of you may be thinking. The World Cup in soccer happens every four years also. It is when 32 teams from around the world compete to crown a champion. This is done after a grueling four year qualification process that pits countries from the same continent against each other for qualification purposes.

The world cup’s charm stems from the journey that each team takes to get to the differently hosted site every cycle. The ups and downs of qualifying comes with the thrill of victory and the heartbreak of defeat.

FIFA has been involved in some shady dealings over the last few years, and were just recently called out on it over the last couple of years. A change in President due to corruption inside the federation led to Sepp Blatter being replaced by Gianni Infantino. Infantino, instead of doing an internal investigation with his first action has instead elected to go with a much different plan instead. In order to get even more revenue out of the World Cup he has proposed, and passed over the last few months a vote to expand the field to 48 teams by 2026. The vote passed with ease, as many smaller countries hoping to get a chance to play were eager to see their country have better odds of getting into the tournament. This was a clear money grab by the new FIFA regime and they seem to be back to their old tricks, when it comes to thinking about their own pockets then the game. This raises the question can 48 teams work in the 2026 World Cup?

The Breakdown of the current format

UEFA 16 (13 currently)
CAF 9 (5)
AFC 8.5 (4.5)
CONMEBOL 6 (4.5)
CONCACAF 6.5 (3.5)
Oceania 1 (0.5)
Host Country 1 or more if co-hosted (1

Figure 1. FIFA.com

The following chart is a breakdown of how things are set up currently in the (parentheses) while the numbers outside are what they will be increased to. To give you a quick rundown of what each continent gets. Europe is by far the most currently as they get 13 countries. Next on the list is Asia with 5 currently. Then Africa with 4.5 which can mean either 4 or 5 depending on who wins in a playoff between other continents after the qualification process is over. South America is the same with 4.5 also. North America is bumped down to 3.5. Lastly the Oceanic region gets a half birth. Which essentially means even their top qualifier has to still win a playoff to get in. The only other way to get in is if your country is hosting the World Cup, this gives you automatic qualification.

This addition makes sense in theory for a few continents. Europe is insanely competitive when it comes to qualification, and it is always unpredictable who will be the 13 qualifiers each cycle. This process will allow the top two finishers from the eight qualification groups to get through now as opposed to just the winners and the winners of a playoff. Continents like Africa will also benefit with a more competitive style of play reaching the continent over the last decade, their qualification process will also see newer fresher faces emerging each cycle.

Pros

It does give new countries an opportunity that did not have one before. This can be exciting for fans to follow throughout the tournament. The last European championship which also expanded was a great example. Iceland a team not known for their soccer playing ability not only qualified but made a Cinderella run in the tournament two years ago. Stories like this are ideally what many hope to see from a few different new teams in 2026.

It all but guarantees that any team considered a power in their continent. Mexico and the United States in North America; Australia and Japan in Asia will never again have to worry about qualifying. For example for the United States to miss the 2026 world cup they would have to finish behind potentially with the playoff 7 different teams in the North American region. This does include teams like Mexico but this would also start including small island countries like Honduras and Guatemala.

Cons

Potential for less competitive games in the tournament. This is bound to happen as the quality of team’s dip once a FIFA ranking gets below the thirties. A great example of this was at the Confederation’s Cup in front of Brazil’s hosting of the 2014 World Cup. The Confederation’s Cup is a Run through for the host country to get a chance to host an event a year prior to the world cup to get the experience of hosting the festivities. It is also an opportunity for teams who were champions of their continent tournament to play valuable games 12 months away from the big tournament. The one outlier that made this tournament was the little country of Tahiti, out of the Oceanic region. They were paired with African champion Nigeria, South American champion Uruguay, and the prior cycle’s world cup winner Spain. Game 1 was a 6-1 loss to Nigeria, while game 2 was a 10-0 drubbing at the hands of Spain, and the last game was 8-0 against Uruguay. Games like with inferior teams is something that could become a normality at future World Cups.

More teams will also qualify for the knockout stages which will also water down teams qualifying for the next round. The knockout round will now have 32 teams instead of 16. This means third place teams will still advance through. This can effect how a team may choose to play during a tournament. The free flow of some teams, may turn into defensive shells that are just hoping to survive and live another day.

The Verdict

Is 48 teams going to deter me from watching my favorite sporting event. No, it probably won’t. This is a slippery slope we are going down  at the moment. If 48 teams is deemed successful what is to stop FIFA from thinking 64 is not such a bad idea. I think it is an interesting idea and if it is done correctly and for the right reasons I can see myself getting behind it and embracing it. Sadly, that is not why I think this was done. I think this was something done out of the greed of the federation. We won’t know for sure how this experiment works until the 2026 cycle.

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Christian Pulisic: Is this finally the face of US Soccer?

Christian Pulisic SI BIO

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Christian Pulisic age 18 US national team player, Borussia Dortmund club team (German Bundesliga)

I have been a soccer fan since I can remember. I started playing organized soccer at the age of five and my dream was to play at any professional level at some point in my life. With that dream came the envy of watching the United States soccer teams and the talented and lucky individuals who got to put on the colors for their country. These games for me were what I always dreamed of playing in.

I have come to terms that I am not going to be a soccer star, believe me I understand that ship has sailed. Soccer is still a huge passion for me though. I have run podcasts in the past talking about the United States team and their performances through qualifiers up to the world cup.

For those of you who are unfamiliar United States Soccer it is on the rise, even more so in the past decade. Although numbers only seem to substantially spike at the start of each world cup every four years, there is still a steady number added to television ratings after the world cup ends. Soccer is more accessible in the United States now then ever before. We currently televise more English Premier League games then England does itself. The Seattle Sounders a team from the professional soccer league here in America (MLS) would be a top tier team in the Premier league if you were to look at their attendance numbers. Needless to say the sport continues to grow.

The thing that is growing the most over the past few years is the youth system. The thing that is essential to supplying talent to our professional leagues and national team. In the past the only time you would see a lot of players from the United States be successful is if they chose to live in Europe to try and make a career over there. The problem with that is, with a lack of experience and lack of competition in the United States often times players would be overmatched, and sit on the bench behind players who are more accustomed to the talent level. The growth of the youth academy is exciting and it is providing us with the next generation of players who will be integral to the United States Soccer program for years to come. Players like Jordan Morris, Bobby Wood, and Julian Green are all names that will be a part of US soccer players vocabulary for the next decade. The thing that has been missing for a long time is that player that is the face of the sport. For years it was Landon Donovan, but even Landon was not considered one of the best players in the world.

The Face of US Soccer

Many people will remember growing up and hearing the name Freddy Adu. Adu was expected to be the next thing in sports. His talent was undeniable and he was suppose to be the fuel that stoked the fire of soccer in the United States. Adu signed at the age of 14, and played professionally in the United States for a few years. His dazzling skills at the young age saw money running to buy cleats, and shinguards and try to emulate the youngster. Fast forward thirteen years and Freddy Adu is out of soccer.

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Freddy Adu be introduced by commissioner Don Garber at the age of 14

The story of Freddy Adu

US soccer has been afraid to proclaim another face of the sport sense, as they felt partially responsible for putting so much pressure on such a young kid. Enter Christian Pulisic. Many of us who followed the sport had heard rumblings that there was a kid with American Citizenship climbing the ranks of one of Germany’s top club teams Borussia Dortmund. This has been something we have heard before, that there is an overseas talent that has potential. This one was different however. Borussia Dortmund is known for their youth system and their development of young players. When reports were coming out of the club that Pulisic is one of the best youth players they have ever produced, heads started to turn.

Pulisic was called into United States national team duty for the first time on March 29th, 2016 where he came on as a substitute against Guatemala. It was a short cameo and just a taste of the youngsters ability. It was in May when he became the youngest goalscorer in US national team history when people started to notice his ability in the States. Fast forward to now, Pulisic has been a mainstay in the national team’s first team. Not only that he has been the best player on the field in his last three games.

Heaping all of this praise on an eighteen year old may seem pointless as there is so much career left in front of them that it could go too many different ways to count. The stars are definitely aligning for US soccer at the right time though. Adding this focal point into a cast of several other talented youngsters, the talent pool for the United States has more potential than it has ever had.

The Verdict

Is Christian Pulisic going to be the face of United States soccer. I am going to be bold and say yes he is. Watching this kid there is something different about him. He has the poise and composure to be able to play on a field in front of 80,000 people in Germany and fighting off people a decade older than him gunning for his job on a regular basis. He has not ran from any challenge that has come his way, and his talent is undeniable.

He is currently being pursued by several different clubs in Europe, hoping to buy him from Dortmund to try and bring his talent to their team. Pulisic has been insistent that Germany is the place for him and that he won’t be moving. For what Dortmund has done for him thus far I hope he does stay. For the sake of the United States national team I hope he keeps the path he has been going down thus far. If he stays on this path there are bright times ahead for United States Soccer.

Renewable Energy, the future is now

(Johnston, 2016) This is a proposed theory of how the United States can get to 100% renewable energy in the next 33 years. Renewable Energy Proposal

us-100-percent-renewable-energy

With the results of the last election in the rear view mirror the thing that is most alarming to me is the environmental agenda of the Trump administration. I should rephrase, the lack of an environmental agenda of the Trump administration. Trump’s plan includes a massive reduction in the EPA’s budget (31%) and getting rid of several of Obama’s environmental initiatives. “First, let’s be clear: The proposed cuts are not really about saving money for the federal government.  EPA’s budget accounts for roughly 0.2 percent of the total federal budget, virtually the lowest funding level for any major federal agency.  And this is not new. Each Republican Congress has slashed EPA’s budget in recent years, so the agency’s current budget of roughly $8 billion is less than half of what it was in the 1970s, adjusted for inflation, and the lowest it has been since the mid-1980s.  Thus, the agency is already functioning at a bare bones level, especially with respect to compliance and enforcement.  So the White House proposal to cut EPA’s budget by another one-third is about undermining the agency’s mission, not about deficits or debt” (Driscoll, 2017). This shows a consistent rhetoric on the republican side to maintain any avenues that provide dollars and cents for their campaign contributors even if it means it is hurting the general public.

President Trump’s environmental plan

Trumps administration aside, the biggest step that we need to make collectively is getting rid of our dependence on fossil fuels. Easier said then done. The full circle of donations to politicians, and politicians continuing our dependence on them through lack of policies and laws is something that needs to be broken. The benefits of alternative energy are better not just for the environment but better for the human race as well.

Alternative Energy the types

“Renewable energy—wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, and biomass—provides substantial benefits for our climate, our health, and our economy” (UCSUSA, 2013). Each of these energy sources provide new innovative ways to provide energy for our day to day lives. As some may not be practical in some areas of the country others may be. Mixing and matching to provide power through different avenues is the way to get away from our necessity of using fossil fuels.

About Alternative Energy

life_cycle_emissions_of_different_energy_types

The chart above indicates how each type of energy resource contributes to the overall effects of global warming through greenhouse gas emission. It shows how non-renewable energy sources can damage the environment that they are being used in. It is not an unrealistic goal to get off of the dependence of fossil fuels in the near future. “In addition, a ground-breaking study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory explored the feasibility and environmental impacts associated with generating 80 percent of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2050 and found that global warming emissions from electricity production could be reduced by approximately 81 percent” (UCSUSA, 2013).

Why Else is Renewable Energy Important?

On top of helping preserve the climate, renewable energy serves many other benefits as well. It improves the well being of communities, as clean air is proven to cut down the risk of health ailments “Climate change has significant implications for our health. Rising temperatures will likely lead to increased air pollution, a longer and more intense allergy season, the spread of insect-borne diseases, more frequent and dangerous heat waves, and heavier rainstorms and flooding. All of these changes pose serious, and costly, risks to public health” (UCSUSA, 2013). It creates more jobs, as adding infrastructure for the renewable energy has to be run and maintained by certain individuals.

Why Should You Care?

There has been a perpetuated pattern that is starting to get on my nerves and I hope you the reader feel the same way. The consistent culture of politics effecting the health and well-being of the public is at the bare minimum where the line needs to be drawn. By not caring about the environment you are not only harming the planet for our future children, the results could be seen much sooner than expected and the damages could be seen by you personally. Natural disasters will increase with the temperature increases, health in busy metropolises will grow worse with each gas filled car driving down the highway. By voting in politicians that are more concerned about their reelection than the planet that we live on, this mistreatment of the planet is going to continue. The clock is ticking and we are getting closer and closer to it hitting midnight.

The NFL Culture

All 22 Why the Denver Broncos are meeting with Joe Mixon

Who Is Joe Mixon?

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For those of you who are not entirely into sports this is Joe Mixon. Currently he is working out to play for one of the 32 NFL teams. He is considered one of the top running backs coming out of college and many teams are interested as many have met with him to see if he is a good fit. I wish this blog could stop there, but sadly it can not. Joe Mixon is under a lot of scrutiny and rightfully so. Mixon was accused and then found guilty of assault when he punched a fellow student of Oklahoma in the face in a sandwich shop on campus. The video surfaced and this has led to Mixon’s draft stock falling.

The NFL’s Reputation

Realistically over the last five years the NFL has taken a massive hit in its perception to the general public. Big off the field cases have led to unwanted press to the league, and the disciplinary handling of these cases has led the general public to question the leagues integrity. This stems from another incident involving Ray Rice in 2014 where he too was involved in the assault of his then girlfriend. Video surfaced of the incident and the penalty increased, as the NFL was skiddish and dragged its feet on the punishment. Rice no longer plays in the league but it is hardly because of the incident. It was because of his age and the unwanted attention his presence would bring. We are starting to see the good players get free passes which is a dangerous precedent that this league has set. Players like Adrian Peterson beating their kids with a switch and the league not knowing how to handle the situation, and eventually the Vikings having to put him on paid leave while things were sorted out. These incidents are giving the NFL a bad reputation and it just keeps getting worse.

All 22’s Take

It is articles like this that are leading to this type of culture. The article above talks about how meeting with Joe Mixon wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. He teams should see what he brings to the table. It is in my opinion and I hope many others join me when i say you should as a male never hit a woman. It should not even have to be a rule it should be something that is just understood. The article ALL 22 does acknowledge that they do not condone physical violence on woman. (whew, at least we agree on that) Where things start to go wrong in this article is where the cancerous culture of the NFL is turning to. The writer Bill Williamson claims he can’t fault the Broncos for getting to know Mixon, and that many teams can’t get past his character concerns. I get that Joe Mixon is blazing fast, great out of the backfield and is considered the number two running back prospect in the draft class this year. For those of you who do not watch football it is one of the best groups of running backs coming out of college in a long time. Having said that THIS SHOULD NOT MATTER! There needs to be a precedent set in this league that when you make that magnitude of a mistake there isn’t a second chance. You do not get to do whatever you want in life because you are good at football. Yet the league keeps making the same mistake and it is writer’s like Bill Williamson who are so attached to the sport that they are writing about that they can’t get past how fast someone can run, or how high they can jump. Bill Williamson’s idea that teams should just see if he has changed or if he still has “character concerns” is what my gripe is currently with the NFL culture. This idea that this player has potential to make boatloads of money and play on an NFL team is unbelievable to me.

The other argument that has been mentioned was how young Mixon was at the time of the incident. Joe Mixon was eighteen at the time of the incident. This doesn’t work as a valid argument in my opinion, when you are eighteen you can make mistakes, but you should also be able at that age to tell the difference between right and wrong. You are considered an adult at that age in many cases. My dad always said to me mistakes are apart of life just don’t make the big mistake. This is what I would consider a big mistake. Now do I think Joe Mixon should be locked away forever? No, This in no way means Joe Mixon’s life has to be over. I think once the courts decide what is right and how it should be handled then he is free to continue to try and be a better person. Perhaps he really did learn from this and he has changed for the better, we can only hope this is the case. I just think playing a sport where you can earn millions of dollars is a privilidge and many young people look up to these players and they should be held to the highest standard. The league is losing the set of values that I think it once held and it is really disheartening and sad to watch as someone who grew up and loved the sport as much as me. Remember everyone to prioritize what is the most important because I think we are losing sight of that too much now a days.

 

Real News or Fake News

 

The Real Problem With Fake News

The first time I ever saw fake news was on my Facebook timeline a few years ago. It was something trivial like a sports trade that had been completed. I remember being so shocked by the news I didn’t even bother reading it I just instantly shared it. This was the start of a problem that has gotten more serious than fake sports trades. The substance of some of these articles are involving more and more serious topics that the reader has to sift through to make sure what they are reading is valid. This practice has been a growing problem in this country as there is a growing fear of spreading fake news, but there is another problem that has surfaced that many people may not realize yet. This new problem has emerged over the last year, as people are using the problem of “fake news” to discredit the media. This includes most recently our newly elected president of the United States Donald Trump. This problem is worrisome as the more discredited the media becomes the less informed the general public will be. Be sure to watch the video from Trump’s press conference provided by the Washington Post on the link provided. It shows the dangers of this term fake news as an authority figure is attempting to use this term to dismiss stories about his administration that he does not like.

“I have never seen more dishonest media, frankly than the political media”- Donald Trump

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump poses for a photo after an interview with Reuters in his office in Trump Tower, in the Manhattan borough of New York City
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump poses for a photo after an interview with Reuters in his office in Trump Tower, in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., May 17, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson – RTSEQUY

“The leaks are real. The leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake”- Donald Trump

HOW TO FIND FAKE NEWS

So how do we know what to believe anymore? Well the problem is definitely getting more publicity than it should as it as not as prevalent is you would think by all of the attention it has been getting recently. Although widespread fake news is not the epidemic that the current presidential administration claims, that doesn’t mean that you should not know what to look for when you are reading a news article to catch fake news. Here is a simple crash course on what to look for when reading articles and what to do if you think you have come across fake news.

WHY IS THE MEDIA IMPORTANT?

Today the media serves as an informal part of the political checks and balances that our country has in place. It keeps people in power in check by being an extension of the American people’s voices while they are in office. Much like lawmakers are the voice of their constituents that they represent in the legislature, the media asks the questions that the public wants to know or needs to know. In order to make the most informed decisions and to make the gears of the democratic machine keep churning media is essential to the system. This is why monitoring for the real story and being informed in today’s society is important. When the Presidential administration decides to attack the media as the administration is under scrutiny, it is up to the general public to be aware of where the truth lies.

 

 

 

Is it getting hot in here?

NASA with all things climate change

Ever since I was very young the environment has been something I have been passionate about protecting. I remember the first time in elementary school that we were all given a Bill Nye the Science Guy tour of how the climate was changing and that there was things we could do to collectively stop it. Well I am sad to say we have collectively let Bill Nye down. Okay we were not the only ones responsible for what is taking place with the earth’s climate but we are definitely contributing to the overall condition of the earth’s ozone.

It is a scary time to be pro-environment in this country as the rhetoric has definitely fallen on the side of apathy and denial throughout the current majority legislature on this topic. Here is the thing, I am all for having an opposing opinion then myself. The argument in this case that is being opposed however is against facts. Climate change is something that can be proven it is happening all around us. When the president of the United States denies climate change it makes me question his logic (I questioned it long before that but  that is a discussion for another time.)

Trump has proven by his recent EPA appointment that environment is about the last thing he is thinking about currently on his presidential totem pole of responsibility as he appointed Scott Pruitt a man who has his hands in the fossil fuel business to spearhead the job. Let me write that again just so everybody doesn’t miss it, a man who’s primary stake of business involves fossil fuel is taking a job to at a government agency that hinges on limiting fossil fuel emission.

Seriously read this Washington Post article on Scott Pruitt and if you have any care for our environment you will have a very similar reaction to Ron Swanson down below..

Scott Pruitt-Washington Post Article

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I guess my end all in this is we have to be combative about this. There had been significant strides made in legislature especially through Obama’s tenure that many of us felt was a good foundation to build on. Trump is attempting to come in and bulldoze that foundation right out from underneath us. Talk to your legislators if this is something you are passionate about through social media avenues, or email. Sign petitions when they are available, just use your voice and try and help maintain the progress that has been achieved in the field of environmental protection. Visit the link at the top of the page Nasa for some substantial evidence on what is happening with our planet according to NASA. Too really keep yourself up at night I recommend checking out the effects tab once you have clicked on the link.

The government and its discontents