Moving mountains

The saying is out of a religious context. It says that faith can move mountains, in the original usage the faith is related to god,but in modern times we realize that the faith in yourself and your team is extremely powerful, too. The bestexample for that are the Portland Trail Blazers. Even though 4 Blazers players, including star Brandon Roy, number one draft pick Greg Oden and top performer Marcus Camby, are injured, they won the last of their two home games. But these games were no average games. These games were special because they won against the San Antonio Spurs, the team with the best record in the league, and against the Chicago Bulls, which have the third best record in the eastern conference, so only the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat have a better record.

I remember, earlier in the Season, when I got just introduced to the Blazers by my host family, Brandon Roy had problems playing because his knees bothered him. He played a couple games, where I heard after the game more then one person saying he played bad, but in despite of playing not that well, he was still the leader of the team. There was nobody else even close to being a leader. I liked and like Wesley Matthews a lot. He is a young player, who has talent and will improve a lot during the next years, if he stays healthy. But he has to go through this improvement first, before he he will be able to lead a team. Batum and Aldridge didn’t as good as they do now in the beginning of the season. So it didn’t look like we will have a leader besides Roy in this team anytime soon. And a team needs a leader who makes plays, who scores points, who puts his team on his back.

Brandon’s knees started to bother him more and more and it became clear that he won’t be able to play for a long while, without that anybody knew how long it will be, because he had to go through knee surgery. It was pretty terrifying because nobody knew what would happen, even though everybody knew somebody has to step up. But it was questionable, whether any other player on the team is able to fill the gap Brandon Roy left.

But as the season went on, something amazing happened, not one single guy stepped up, the whole team stepped up to fill the gap. LaMarcus Aldridge lead the team with 40 and 42 points (career high) to two wins against two of the best teams in the NBA. He dunks, he shoots, he just makes the points you need to win a game. We saw a couple times in the last games, that they gave the ball to Aldridge, when they didn’t know what to do anymore, and LA scored the buckets the Blazers needed. Nicolas Batum has become a very confident and good shooter. He is a big threat from behind the three point line and besides that, he has the great ability to block shots on the other side of the court. Wesley Matthews played so well that he is a part of this years sophomores All-Star team, because he is fourth in shooting out of all second-year players (averaging 16.1 points per game). And Andre Miller showed how important he is for the Blazers, too. He has the confidence to make important buckets in the end of a close game like nobody else on the team right now.

I don’t know how Nate McMillan was able to do that, what he said to build his players up after every bad game so that they finally became a team which has “just” an average record (just in quotation marks because of the many injuries) but can beat teams like the Spurs and the Bulls and will hopefully make the Play-Offs, but it is amazing what he has done for and with the Blazers. Other teams struggle badly when they loose their star due to injury for a while and yes, the Portland Trail Blazers struggled, too for a while but they come out of this struggle stronger and more self confident. If Brandon Roy is able to fit in this changed team and add his great abilities to this team, when he is returning, than the Blazers can continue to move bigger and bigger mountains.

Patriotism in Germany

You never see German athletes having their hand on their heart, while the national anthem is playing, like so many other athletes from other countries do. Why is that the case? The problem is, that Germany was not able to return to a healthy patriotism, after what happened during the third Reich. Even my generation, who is not in charge for what happened, who is living/born in a time, where the last people, who actually were responsible for the cruelty, are dying or are already dead, wasn’t able to find its way back to a good patriotic attitude because of what we get taught from our family, our teachers and idols. But more and more young people ask themselves “Why can’t I be proud of my country?”. I am one of them. Though often times when you ask this question loud, you get called a (Neo-)Nazi or you get associated with them in an other way, even though you are probably on the left side of the political spectrum.

Because of this social evil, experts like Charlotte Knobloch, Holocaust survivor, elected President of Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland in June, 2006, Vice President of the European Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress, and many others were happy to see, when Germany became a sea of waving flags during the world cup 2006 in Germany. Finally the German public identified themselves with their flag and their national anthem. So our soccer team helped us and we helped them. They gave us this national identity, we supported them with this identity and they played amazingly. Everyone, I know, is happy when he/she looks back because it was a great summer. One of the pictures that stayed is the German flag everywhere and the masses of people waving them and this time these pictures were not in a movie and related to Hitler, so we finally got a good experience with our flag and anthem, with our national identity. That all was made possible by the German national soccer team, which has his roots all over the world. So there was no possibility to say that it was a nationalistic change. The fact that our national team is multi cultural and that the Germans became more confident with their nationality, made it possible that even migrants who never said that they were German, migrants who always pointed out there foreign roots, wore the German flag with pride and cheered for the German national team, so they were possibly for the first time since they came to this country or were born in this country really a part of the German society.

Now, 4 and a half year and one world cup later, I am confident that Germany is one the right way to a healthy patriotism, even though we are not there yet. But all this would not be happening without the influence by the sport on the society.

Sport gets changed by the society but the society gets changed by sport, too.

The Instant Replay in Soccer

At the moment the instant replay in soccer is not allowed by the FIFA. But why is it forbidden? The reasoning by the FIFA is that if you use the instant replay it would just destroy the game because it would take to much time too often. But is that true? The instant replay would be mainly needed in decisions about offsides, fouls and goals. In these cases the game is usually anyways stopped for an amount of time in which you could check the decision by the referees on the field with another referee somewhere outside of the field. Also we see the instant replay is used effectively in Basketball, a game which is much faster than soccer.

So obviously the reasoning by the FIFA is pretty weak, so what are the real reasons? The nicest way experts and ordinary people explain it is that Joseph Blatter (president of the FIFA) is just too conservative for this kind of change. Other people say that he doesn’t do because he is corrupt (there were corruption reproaches against him in matter of the elections to the president in 1998 and 2002). The only fact i know about this issue is that we really need the instant replay in soccer. Because they were wrong decisions made on the field which leaded to the loss of millions of dollars for teams who actually deserved the money and the prestige resulting out of an important win.

This is one example for a terribly wrong decision. It was probably one of the reasons why we (Germany) won against England in the eighth final of the FIFA World Cup 2010.