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The PJ Tatler

by
Rick Moran

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January 26, 2014 - 6:16 am

The Olympics, the World Cup, and the Super Bowl – all three mega sporting events are in trouble for one reason or another. Is this the beginning of the end for these kind of sport spectaculars?

Probably not. But 2014 appears not to be a good year for them either.

In Brazil, where soccer’s World Cup will be held later this summer, the most-watched sporting event in the world is proving to be unpopular with some, who apparently don’t mind it when their magnificent team wins in other countries, but resent the billions being spent to prepare for the games.

AFP:

Demonstrators and police clashed in Sao Paulo during the first in a planned series of anti-World Cup protests across Brazil called by radical activist group Anonymous.

With less than five months before the June 12 kick-off — when the five-time champions and hosts take on Croatia — Brazil is facing the same kind of social rumblings that marred last year’s Confederations Cup dress rehearsal.

Anonymous called for protests against football’s fabled event via its Facebook page under the slogan “The Cup will not take place.”

Other activists said “FIFA go home” on Twitter, referring to football’s world governing body, which was likely watching the weekend’s events with some concern.

Brazilians are avid users of social media, a favored tool to organize protests.

But turnout was modest.

In the country’s sprawling industrial and financial hub of Sao Paulo, about 2,500 people demonstrated near the Art Museum and on the key Avenida Paulista, chanting and waving signs like “Wake up Brazil, a teacher is worth more than (footballer) Neymar.”

Demonstrators and police clashed, with protesters burning tires and garbage, and some engaging in vandalism targeting banks and other businesses.

Sao Paulo military police said they arrested 128 people.

Rio de Janeiro — where huge demonstrations turned violent in July — rallied just about 200 to a demonstration on landmark Copacabana Beach.

The capital Brasilia and the central city of Goiania each saw small demonstrations of fewer than 100, local media reported.

Anonymous, which has staged a number of highly publicized stunts in different countries, vowed that the protests planned for 36 cities across Brazil — a nation of 200 million — would “be followed by others.”

Many in football-mad Brazil say they are not against the World Cup as such — their country of 200 million is the most successful nation in the tournament’s 84-year history.

But they are outraged to see hundreds of millions of dollars spent on preparing 12 host cities for the sports jamboree when poor infrastructure and areas such as health and education require urgent massive investment.

Brazil will also host the 2016 Olympic games — another massive outlay of government funds for which there is building resentment. Brazil may be soccer’s Mecca but its people aren’t convinced that the investment to stage an extravaganza watched on TV by more than a billion people is worth it.

Speaking of the Olympics, security for the games beginning in Sochi next month is looking more and more like a crapshoot. One expert stated the area around Sochi to be as dangerous as Iraq:

In an interview with Fox News National Security Analyst KT McFarland, former FBI officer Bill Daly called the threat of an attack in or near Sochi “credible.”

“They are out there … the to and from routes are vulnerable,” Daly said of Sochi’s remote location. “They [athletes] can be as vulnerable as some of our troops who were traveling in Iraq on some of these more remote routes,” said Daly

Oh, joy. Can we really trust the Russians not to muck it up? I don’t think our government does:

The United States will be ready to rescue Americans from the upcoming Sochi Olympics, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said amid heightened security fears in the run-up to the Games.

“If we need to extract our citizens, we will have appropriate arrangements with the Russians to do this,” Hagel told journalists on Friday.

Over 10,000 American athletes and spectators are expected to attend the Games, which start on Feb. 7.

Russia has the main responsibility for protecting the Olympics, but recent deadly suicide attacks have heightened worries about militant attacks.

On Thursday, the U.S. Olympic team and at least five other national delegations said they had received messages making terrorist threats ahead of the Games.

So we have that to look forward to.

Finally, the Super Bowl may become of victim of Polar Vortex — The Sequel. If people are voting with their feet — and their pocketbooks — the first cold weather Super Bowl in history looks like it’s going to be an epic fail.

Weather forecasts a week out from the game are predicting temps in the 20′s — balmy if you live in Green Bay or some other northern city. But who wants to shell out a couple of grand for tickets to sit in a cold stadium, watching cold players try to play a decent game of football?

Daily Mail:

Cold weather is driving the cost of Super Bowl tickets to the lowest level in at least two years as fans wince at the thought of shivering in temperatures of around 20F next Sunday.

The cheapest ticket on ticket exchange Stub Hub was $1,277.50 at midday today.

That has fallen even further than yesterday when ESPN calculated that a $1,779 ticket was $409 cheaper than at the same time last year and $809 than in 2012.

However NFL officials remain unconcerned about both turnout and takings – the most expensive ticket on offer is a suite for a cool $686,720.

Forecasters are predicting one of the coldest Super Bowls in recent memory this year as a second block of arctic air hovers over New York and New Jersey. Temperatures are expected to hover around 30F all week and there is now a 30 per cent chance of snow on Super Bowl Sunday.

The venue, Met Life stadium in New Jersey is also open to the elements meaning a potentially uncomfortable experience for the majority of fans who will not be in heated suites.

There is even speculation that the game could be postponed if faced with heavy snow – an outcome that would surely bring questions about the decision to hold the game in an uncovered stadium in the North East.

Maybe the league executives didn’t feel like leaving town for the game this year — even if it was held in more tropical city. The NFL offices are in New York and I’m sure the league big-wigs appreciate the short drive to New Jersey to attend the game.

But how about the 70,000 other people stuck watching a rump-freezing, teeth-chattering game in the wind and snow? And what happens if the weather becomes dangerous?

Could we see a Super Bowl Friday, or Saturday, or even Monday? Believe it or not, it’s possible if a major storm threatens the big day.

“We don’t have a crystal ball on weather, but we’re confident we’ll be able to have our events,” said Eric Grubman, executive VP, NFL.

On Wednesday, more than 1,000 workers shoveled out 13 inches of snow from the stands at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

“Our game is to experience the elements. It’s part of what we do. It’s part of football, and I believe that’s part of our history,” said Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner.

The Super Bowl will go on and is in no danger of becoming extinct. There will be a Super Bowl next year and the year after that — just like there will probably be Olympic games and World Cups far into the future.

But for a variety of reasons, these sporting events are beginning to lose a little luster. There won’t be the same cachet associated with the Olympics if there’s trouble, nor will the World Cup be quite the same if there is unrest while the tournament is underway.

And while you can’t kill the Super Bowl, a change in date due to weather will expose NFL executives to heavy — and deserved — criticism. Might something go out of that event as well?

What connects all three of these events is mega-hype. And while the games usually fall short of expectations, 2014 promises to be even more of a disconnect from reality

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Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.

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All Comments   (5)
All Comments   (5)
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The networks have way too much money invested in the Super Bowl. If Nj gets another foot of snow on Super Bowl Sunday before or during the game, I guarantee you will never see another Superbowl played outside a domed stadium.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
So...
The cheapest Superbowl ticket this year has been "driven down" to more than middle-management employees make in a week?

You might want to re-examine that point. It doesn't support your thesis.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
When the Giants advanced to Super Bowl XLII to beat the 18-0 Patriots, they had to do it by winning an overtime game in sub-zero temperatures in Green Bay. Fortunately for them it was so cold no Packer fans showed up to give the team home field advantage (if really hurt the Packers when Donald Driver did the Lambeau Leap after his 90-yard touchdown reception and hurt himself because there were no fans in the stands to catch him).

OK [/sarcasm] -- Green Bay fans filled the stands, just as Mile High would have been filled last Sunday for Broncos-Patriots no matter what the conditions were. The point, of course, is we accept the option of miserable weather for the conference championship games, and then get the vapors if the NFL plays the Super Bowl one time in non-climate controlled/not Southern Belt conditions. It's an experiment, one that likely won't be repeated, and odds are the mid-week conditions aren't going to be as miserable as Dallas was for their ice-storm plagued Super Bowl, or the game itself was the year Peyton Manning won his, in a monsoon against the Bears in Miami.

The bigger threat down the line to the NFL is the nanny state police and tort lawyers who are going to continue to push the concussion issue. Combine that with those on the left who hate football's violence and think America should follow Europe's lead in being ga-ga for soccer, and it may not be very long before part of what it means to be an accepted person in liberal society will be calling not just for the Redskins to change their name, but for government to begin banning football from schools, colleges or even recreational activity on city, state or federal parkland.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Two questions:
1. Did the decision to play Super Bowl 2014 in East Rutherford, NJ have anything to do with the confident predictions of All The Real Scientists that by 2010, snowfall in the Northeast would have come to a permanent end?

2. If there is another successful terrorist attack on the Summer Olympics this year, will it be treated as a minor disruption (much like a weather delay), like the 1976 incident ?
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
The problem with Brazil is that you have an enormous expenditure of money in a country that still has stark contrasts between wealth and poverty. But the thing I think folks from outside Brazil don't understand is that soccer isn't nearly as popular there as people make it out to be.

Their pro leagues have struggled to remain organizationally and financially afloat for decades. There's probably no stable 10 year period in soccer's pro history in Brazil with the same playoff format, same name, same months, same number of teams. Many "pro" stadiums in the '80s were like those of an America baseball farm team. TV contracts have also been one big source of disappointment. The ratings just aren't there.

In the early 1980's, with a local Rio team like Flamengo with legendary players playing at the then much more gigantic capacity Maracana stadium, crowds averaged perhaps 20,000 a game, and the cheapest tickets were 35 cents U.S.

That's changed in recent years with new stadiums and the incredible expansion of the middle class in only the last 15 years in Brazil but it's still nowhere near the interest and source of revenue of America.

So, put that amount of disinterest, financial outlay, poverty and bulldozing of shanty towns all next to one another and that's built-in friction. But the fact one of the venues is the once sleepy and isolated city of Cuiaba smack in the geographical heart of S. America shows how much things have changed in only 30 years. What that means is that the new rich cities like Cuiaba and Curitiba will have the fewest protests, if any.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
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