Junior cyclists fly SA flag high

first_imgShaun-Nick Bester is a member of the Toyota Supercycling Academy and the Academy’s manager, Ian Wilson, was thrilled by his outstanding performance: “This is great news for the Academy and junior cycling in South Africa!” he said. At the end of the four-stage International Cycling Union 2.1-graded tour, Bester, the son of former Comrades Marathon star Nick Bester, was in fact tied on time with Ibai Salas of the Navalcarnero team, but the Spaniard was awarded first place based on the fact that he’d had better stage placings than Bester. SAinfo reporter 23 June 2009 “We realise this is a ‘special vintage’ and we need to look after these riders now and into the future.” That gave the South Africans all the major jerseys – yellow and points (both Van Zyl) and King of the Mountains (Jennings) – as well as the lead in the team competition. “Congratulations too to those riders who helped make this effort a team contribution and well done to Louis Meintjes and HB Kruger, also of the Toyota Supercycling Academy, who also finished the tour. Stage two was a nightmare in comparison. Van Zyl and Jennings both fell ill overnight with food poisoning and Jennings, along with teammates HB Kruger and Rian Gouws, all went down in the same crash! Shaun-Nick Bester, racing for the national team, became the first South African junior male to finish on an overall podium at a top-graded international road cycling tour, when he claimed second place at the Vuelta al Besaya in Spain on the weekend. StunningBester and his South African teammates started the high-profile event off by stunning the European riders, mostly from Spain and Italy, when they took the first three places on stage one, an 85.6-kilometre leg from Los Corrales to Mercadal. Van Zyl secured the win ahead of Christopher Jennings and Bester. “We rode so hard for the last 10 Ks. We just couldn’t ride any harder,” explained Bester. “But in the end it just wasn’t enough. One second quicker and I would have held onto yellow.” “Shaun-Nick is a dedicated and extremely talented rider. His hard work is paying off and we look forward to more great results from him and the rest of the squad on their European campaign. ‘We’re making an impression’“But I’m still happy with second in such high quality company,” Bester said. “My teammates were great with their support, and the Europeans are all talking about the South Africans now, so we’re making an impression.”center_img Salas had a 45-second lead on Bester at the base of the descent, which Van Zyl and Bester reduced to 12 seconds at the finish. “The team worked very hard for Shaun-Nick and it was amazing to see how big junior cycling is here. The entire race was broadcast live on national radio and got plenty of TV and print media coverage,” remarked Nick Bester, who was in Spain to assist with team support. Salas and Bester both had a final time of eight hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds, with Bester’s third place on stage one his highest finish. Salas was third on stage two and second on stage three. On the final category two climb on the last stage, Salas attacked Bester, who was isolated from his teammates after they’d buried themselves for him earlier on. Bester thought his hopes of victory had vanished until his teammate Johann van Zyl rode across to him at the summit and helped pace Bester to the finish. Up there with the best in the world“We have thought, but not known for sure that our riders are up there with the best in the world and now we have proof!’ “I couldn’t believe it,” said a disappointed Bester. “To lose the race on the final stage only by a count back was heart-breaking. Hendrik Lemmer, Director of the Cycling South Africa Road Commission, said: “It is great to see riders from all three big junior teams in South Africa putting local rivalries aside and working as one for success as a national team in Europe. Yellow jerseyDespite their illness and injuries, the South African team helped Bester as best they could to hold onto the yellow jersey for stage three. With a 12-second advantage over Salas the scene was set for a dramatic final stage, an 84.9km leg from San Felices to Los Corrales. But it was to be the Spaniard’s day and he finished fifth, exactly 12 seconds ahead of Bester. The team, which comprised Bester, Kruger, Meintjes, Van Zyl, Gouws, Jennings, Stefano Maiorana and Bradley Mitchell, ended third in the team competition. Bester managed to avoid the illness and the crash and held his own against some aggressive opposition to finish ninth on the stage to take over the race lead. Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Dash of Zulu in heart of London

first_imgThe Zulu culture comes under the spotlightin 2010 with the opening of an upmarketZulu-themed venue in London.(Image: South Africa Tourism)MEDIA CONTACTS • Roger PayneShaka Zulu restaurant and lounge+44 203 376 9911Janine ErasmusAn opulent new venue opening in April 2010 in London’s Camden district is themed around the famed Zulu king Shaka, and will offer the best of South African cuisine.The £5.5-million (R66-million) venue, also a nightclub, will accommodate almost 750 people, according to the British Hospitality Association (BTA).The multi-level venue is located in the Camden Stables market, northwest of the city centre. The historic stables market is part of the larger Camden Markets, several adjacent markets that are a popular shopping destination and tourist hotspot.The project is the brainchild of Roger Payne, who also owns The Cuban bar and restaurant in Camden Markets. Other restaurants in the area offer a choice of interesting world cuisine ranging from Moroccan to Thai and Malaysian. Payne and Camden Markets have entered into a joint venture to develop the African restaurant.Touted as “London’s hottest launch”, the upmarket Shaka Zulu will be located just below the glamorous pan-Asian restaurant Gilgamesh, in the heart of the Stables market. The BTA reports that the ground floor of the venue, which will double as a nightclub, will accommodate 400 people, while the mezzanine area will accommodate 340 people. Patrons will be able to sample the finest Cape-style seafood in one themed restaurant, and savour specialty South African meats in another.Speaking to Caterer Search, Payne described his latest project as “unique”. The restaurateur admitted to a boyhood fascination with King Shaka, and a long-standing interest in the differences between Zulu and British culture of that time.“It will be a Las Vegas-themed show bar with fine dining … destined to become London’s number-one nightclub,” he said. The UK‘s celebrities are expected to make Shaka Zulu one of their favourite haunts.Payne is also negotiating to bring South African food and beverage suppliers on board. Reports also say that the entrepreneur is in consultation with job creation enterprise Bayede, producer of a range of Zulu-inspired products ranging from fine beadwork and clothing, to accessories, bedding and even wines.Bayede is endorsed by the reigning Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini and his wife Queen Mantfombi, the daughter of Sobhuza II, former king of Swaziland.Sweeping scenes of AfricaPayne is sparing no expense – the cost of the interior décor alone, which will showcase 19th century Zulu culture, is estimated at around £2-million (R24-million). Enormous intricately hand-carved wooden panels feature majestic scenes from Africa – one of them, of an elephant, is said to be 20m high, 10m wide, and 2m deep.Guests may feel a little intimidated as they approach the entrance under the gaze of a 15m bronze statue of the feared ruler himself, which will stand by the door.The 2 400 square metre floor space will also encompass a VIP and cocktail lounge.To ensure authenticity, the developers have held extensive consultation with members of the Zulu nation in South Africa, including King Zwelithini.“We have also consulted the British Museum,” said a Shaka Zulu spokesperson. The cultural institution is famed for its vast African art galleries, which hold treasures gathered – although, some would say plundered – from all over the African continent.The Zulu king is said to have been invited to the grand opening as guest of honour.Royal warriorShaka was born around 1787 near KwaDukuza, formerly known as Stanger, in KwaZulu-Natal.His father Senzangakhona, a Zulu chieftain, had 16 wives, and his mother Nandi was also of noble blood. Because Shaka’s parents weren’t married he and his mother were shunned by both sides of the family, and they eventually settled with Nandi’s aunt among the Mthetwa tribe, led by Chief Dingiswayo.As a grown man Shaka enlisted in the Mthetwa army. It was Dingiswayo who first saw the warrior’s leadership potential, and took him as his protégée, giving him the opportunity to rise through the ranks. Shaka was a ruthless commander, but his strict discipline and sharp military mind were an advantage for the army.When his father died, Dingiswayo supported the young man in a bid to claim control of his people. This Shaka did, and immediately began to assimilate neighbouring clans into his domain, although he remained loyal to Dingiswayo.The monarch died around 1818 and although it is suspected that Shaka played a covert part in this, there is no testimony to support the speculation. Shaka assumed the late Dingiswayo’s position and immediately began to expand the boundaries of his kingdom.Shaka’s only real rival was Zwide of the Ndwandwe tribe, whom he finally conquered in 1826. Many of the Ndwandwe warriors pledged allegiance to Shaka, boosting the ruler’s army tremendously.Shaka introduced a number of new military and social concepts during his reign. One was the iklwa, the short stabbing spear that was born of the long-handled assegai used for throwing. Shaka preferred his warriors to hang on to their weapons instead of throwing them, and to creep right up to the enemy and engage them at close range.He also perfected the crescent-shaped military formation, the main part of which would fight the enemy while those on the outer wings moved to surround the foe. The Zulu army under Shaka fought many bloodthirsty wars and left thousands of people as refugees. As undisputed ruler Shaka showed no mercy to those who angered him, inflicting often outrageous cruelties on them. It has been said that he was responsible for the deaths of over 1-million people.Shaka was on good terms with the occupying British colonial forces, traded with them, and allowed them to build a settlement at Port Natal, now the provincial capital Durban. During his rule there was harmony between the Zulus and the settlers.When his mother Nandi died in 1827, Shaka went berserk, putting large numbers of people to death simply because they did not appear to be suitably grief-stricken. His behaviour eventually became too much for his people and it was at this time that his bodyguard Mbopha and half-brothers Dingane and Mhlangana fatally stabbed Shaka. The buried him in an unmarked grave near what is today the town of KwaDukuza.As Shaka had no children, Dingane succeeded him as king of the Zulu nation.last_img read more

Cat Hoke: Transforming Hustlers Into Entrepreneurs – Episode #104

first_imgTweets you can use to share this episode@catherine_hoke works with #EITs, #Entrepreneurs in Training who are coming out of #incarceration @DefyVenturesClick To Tweet@catherine_hoke’s father taught what not to be and #empowered her in the process @DefyVenturesClick To Tweet@catherine_hoke helps #hustlers face the pain so the past doesn’t repeat itself @DefyVenturesClick To TweetSubscribe toIn the ArenaApple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsAndroidby EmailRSSOr subscribe with your favorite app by using the address below Essential Reading! Get my 2nd book: The Lost Art of Closing “In The Lost Art of Closing, Anthony proves that the final commitment can actually be one of the easiest parts of the sales process—if you’ve set it up properly with other commitments that have to happen long before the close. The key is to lead customers through a series of necessary steps designed to prevent a purchase stall.” Buy Now Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 56:15 — 45.1MB)Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Email | Google Podcasts | RSSThere’s only one difference between the hustlers in prisons across the world and you and me… they got caught breaking the law. That probably sounds like an overly dramatic statement to most readers of this blog, but the truth is that it’s the truth. Anthony’s guest on this episode is Cat Hoke, an amazing woman who’s working to see that the hustlers in prison who really want a second chance at life actually get their first chance ever, by rehabilitating and training them to use their natural propensity to hustle in legal ways – like entrepreneurship and business. This is an amazing conversation you’ll be glad you listened to, so be sure you do listen..@catherine_hoke: Transforming #Hustlers Into #Entrepreneurs – Episode #105 @DefyVenturesClick To TweetCat Hoke works with EITs, Entrepreneurs in Training who are coming out of incarcerationMost of the people in prisons don’t live with any real sense of hope. When you are serving a life sentence, what is there to hope for? That mindset becomes a chain of defeat that hangs over them and the environment in which they live reminds them how hopeless their situation is every day of their lives. So when Cat Hoke and her team walk into a prison and begin spouting off things about hope and change, it’s a hard sell. But she’s one of the most convincing salespeople you’ll ever meet. Currently, her program, Defy Ventures is serving over 5000 EITs – entrepreneurs in training – and is teaching them not only what it means to hope, but what it means to be free from the chains of prison and emotional bondage. You’ve got to hear Cat’s story, on this episode of In The Arena.Turning hustlers into Entrepreneurs with only a 3.2% recidivism rateOne of the main problems with the penal system in most countries is that they are not really about rehabilitation, they are only about punishment. The people inside know that and the culture and environment within the walls of the prison show it to be true. But the Defy Ventures team has made a significant difference in many prisons in the United States already. With only a 3.2% recidivism rate (release offenders going back to prison) they are undoubtedly having an impact. You can hear how the Defy team makes such a difference in the lives of people most of society considers beyond redemption, on this episode.Turning #hustlers into #entrepreneurs with only a 3.2% #recidivism rate @DefyVentures @catherine_hokeClick To TweetCat’s father taught what not to be and empowered her in the processPart of what Cat has come to realize is that the circumstances of her birth are really the only things that kept her off a path that leads to prison. As she’s met more and more of the people who are incarcerated she’s realized that many of them were born into circumstances where it was next to impossible to avoid eventual incarceration. Her father, for example, set her up for success through the things he taught and the intentional care he showed. He wouldn’t allow her to whine or complain and he challenged her with a form of “shark tank” around the dinner table, giving her entrepreneurial or business challenges to figure out. The realization of how much advantage she had compared to many others is what has driven her to a place of compassion rather than criticism. Learn what Cat is doing to help inmates break free of the chains that bind them, on this episode.Cat helps hustlers face the pain so the past doesn’t repeat itselfEven when many hustlers who wind up in prison get out, they are still in chains. The things that drove them into prison in the first place – hurt, anger, neglect, abandonment – are still with them. The Defy Ventures program is not only about teaching job skills and business savvy, it’s about taking those individuals who have been incarcerated to a place where healing can begin. It’s a tough road that even the toughest people don’t easily walk, but when the journey is complete it’s a liberating thing – in more ways than one. Join Anthony and Cat as they discuss the impact Defy Ventures is having, on this episode of In The Arena..@catherine_hoke helps #hustlers face the pain so the past doesn’t repeat itself @DefyVenturesClick To TweetOutline of this great episode Cat Hoke: On a mission to transform hustlers into entrepreneurs The exercise every volunteer and inmate has to go through at Cat’s events How Cat discovered her own lack of compassion for those incarcerated The role of luck and the circumstances of a person’s birth as they relate to a criminal history Cat’s father taught her not to be these things… and empowered her in the process The letter Cat sent to 7 people confessing her own sins – and the responses she received A book so powerful it will stir up emotions you don’t know are there Hope is everything. If you don’t have it, you give up or kill yourself How 5000 people are learning to have hope in spite of being incarcerated At defy, the commitment is to “love hard” and hold people accountable Learn how to volunteer with Defy VenturesResources & Links mentioned in this episodeDefy Venturescat(at)defyventures.org – to order in bulk – all proceeds go to Defy VenturesCat’s new book: A Second ChanceCat’s personal websiteDefy Ventures on TwitterDefy Ventures on FacebookDefy Ventures on LinkedInBOOK: 12 Rules For LifeSeth GodinThe theme song “Into the Arena” is written and produced by Chris Sernel. You can find it on SoundcloudConnect with AnthonyWebsite: www.TheSalesBlog.comYoutube: www.Youtube.com/IannarinoFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/iannarinoTwitter: https://twitter.com/iannarinoGoogle Plus: https://plus.google.com/+SAnthonyIannarinoLinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/iannarinolast_img read more

Zion Williamson powers Duke past Notre Dame

first_imgView comments ‘We are too hospitable,’ says Sotto amid SEA Games woes Duke (18-2, 7-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) won its fourth straight game while sending Notre Dame (11-10, 1-7) to its sixth straight loss.Barrett tallied 17 points for the Blue Devils to go with nine rebounds. Reddish had 13 points.“Our guys, the two games in three days (with) travel, you never know what’s going to happen,” said Krzyzewski, whose club was coming off a 13-point home win Saturday over Georgia Tech, “but our guys really handled tonight well. Proud of them.”John Mooney scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Irish. It was his seventh consecutive double-double, but he finished just 4 of 15 from the field.Prentiss Hubb added 13 points, while T.J. Gibbs had 12 points and four steals, but they, too, struggled with their shots, going a combined 9 of 28.ADVERTISEMENT Oil plant explodes in Pampanga town Grace Poe files bill to protect govt teachers from malicious accusations Duke’s Zion Williamson (1) is defended by Notre Dame’s Dane Goodwin (23) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Zion Williamson flew unimpeded again.For Notre Dame, there was no chance at grounding him. For Mike Krzyzewski, there’s no need to even think about grounding him.ADVERTISEMENT US judge bars Trump’s health insurance rule for immigrants Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte Penny Hardaway: ‘Jealousy’ from other coaches over NBA background Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting ‘We are too hospitable,’ says Sotto amid SEA Games woes Of the 16 players used by the two sides in the first half — eight apiece — eight were freshmen and none were seniors.IRISH REINFORCEMENTBrey said he’s hopeful that junior center Juwan Durham will be back by Notre Dame’s next game. The 6-foot-11 Durham has missed the team’s last three games while nursing an injured ankle. Durham is third in the nation and tops in the ACC at 3.2 blocked shots per game. He’s also averaging 6.6 points and 4.3 rebounds in his 15.0 minutes per game over 15 appearances.UP NEXTDuke: The Blue Devils step outside the ACC for one last time this regular season when they host St. John’s on Saturday. The Red Storm are 15-5, but have lost four of five.Notre Dame: The Irish visit Boston College on Saturday. The Eagles (11-7, 2-4) account for ND’s lone ACC win, 69-66 on Jan. 12 at Notre Dame. For the complete collegiate sports coverage including scores, schedules and stories, visit Inquirer Varsity. LATEST STORIES MOST READ PDEA chief backs Robredo in revealing ‘discoveries’ on drug war Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next “What do you mean ‘grounded’? So he doesn’t jump, or what?” the Duke coach said Monday night, repeating a reporter’s word used during a question about keeping the Blue Devils’ freshman sensation level-headed.“The kid’s like one of the best kids in the whole world,” Krzyzewski said. “No way (his head is going to get too big). I mean, he is so good, is such a great kid.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chiefSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool starsWilliamson scored 26 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked four shots, and fellow freshmen RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish combined for another 30 points as No. 2 Duke rolled to an 83-61 victory over the Fighting Irish.Williamson made 10 of 12 shots from the field for the Blue Devils, who were in control all the way. PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss “I told our guys I think we had the two best teams in the country roll through our building in the last (three) days,” said Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, whose club lost 82-55 to No. 3 Virginia on Saturday.“I like how we competed against this one tonight,” said Brey, who had expressed disappointment in the effort against the Cavaliers. “Let’s see if that can be a better habit for us. It’s kind of been a habit for us — it was just disappointing Saturday.”Duke, which led by as many 24 points in the second half, was up 46-28 by halftime.The Blue Devils roared to a 17-2 lead in the opening six minutes, with Williamson scoring nine points during the spree, and were up 26-7 by the time 10 minutes had elapsed.Notre Dame trimmed its deficit under double digits just once, at 32-23. The Blue Devils’ immediate response to that was a 10-0 run over a span of 2:22.BIG PICTUREDuke: The Blue Devils moved into sole possession of the lead in the hotly contested ACC for the moment by virtue of their seventh league win. No. 3 Virginia (6-1), No. 15 Louisville (6-1) and No. 9 North Carolina (5-1) each have one league loss as well, and all were idle Monday. Duke still has road assignments remaining against each of those other three clubs, plus a home date with the Tar Heels.Notre Dame: Teetering at just over .500, the Irish are in danger of missing out on postseason for just the second time during coach Brey’s 19 years in South Bend. ND has made 12 NCAA Tournament appearances and five in the NIT under Brey. The lone time his Irish were shut out of either was in 2014, when the team closed at 15-17.YOUTH SERVEDWhile Notre Dame’s young players aren’t the recognized blue chippers that Duke’s are, youth was decidedly the rule in Monday’s game on each side. The Blue Devils, as is typical, started four freshmen, including Tre Jones, who in his second game back from an injury scored nine points and dealt five assists. The Irish started two freshmen, while neither team started a senior.last_img read more

10 months agoChelsea ace Hazard: Kicking me inspires more magic

first_imgChelsea ace Hazard: Kicking me inspires more magicby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveChelsea ace Eden Hazard admits he welcomes being kicked in games.Hazard finds it a compliment.He has been one of the five most-fouled players in the league every year since he joined Chelsea. Twice he has been the most fouled (the title-winning campaigns of 2014/15 and 2016/17) and already this term he leads the way, illegally halted on average every 24 minutes.”Sometimes it’s tough. For seven years I have got kicked all the time. But now I take care of my ankles, my knees! We have one of the best medical departments in the world.”I don’t like to say I like it, but when people kick me it gives me a feeling that I am too good, or they just want to stop me and they can’t. That gives me extra power to do something magic.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

Video: Auburn RB Corey Grant Ran A Blazing Sub-4.3 40 At The Tigers’ Pro Day

first_imgCorey Grant runs 40-yard dash.Former Auburn running back Corey Grant is doing a pretty good job impressing the scouts at the Tigers’ pro day this afternoon. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound running back did not receive an invite to the Senior Bowl or the NFL Combine, but he’s making up for that today. Grant might be the fastest player available in the upcoming NFL Draft. According to multiple people in attendance at Auburn’s pro day, Grant ran a sub-4.3 40-yard dash. Hearing unofficial 40 chatter of 4.27 and 4.28 for AU RB Corey Grant. Workout wonder. #AUProDay— Chase Goodbread (@ChaseGoodbread) March 3, 2015BREAKING: Corey Grant is fast. Unofficially a 4.27 40 at Pro Day— Tom Green (@Tomas_Verde) March 3, 2015Times are often a little faster at pro days than they are at the combine or at NFL team’s individual workouts, but that’s still an incredibly impressive performance by Grant. He’s certainly helping his draft stock today.last_img read more

Kickers Are Forever

In football, there are constant power struggles, both on and off the field: players battling players, offenses battling defenses, the passing game battling the running game, coaches battling coaches, and new ways of thinking battling old ways of thinking. And then there are kickers. Battling no one but themselves and the goalposts, they come on the field in moments most mundane and most decisive. They take all the blame when they fail, and little of the credit when they succeed. Year in and year out, just a little bit at a time, they get better. And better. And better. Until the game is completely different, and no one even noticed that kickers were one of the main reasons why.If you’ve been reading my NFL column Skeptical Football this season, you may have noticed that I write a lot about kickers. This interest has been building for a few years as I’ve watched field goals drained from long range at an ever-increasing rate, culminating in 2013, when NFL kickers made more than 67 percent of the kicks they took from 50-plus yards, giving them a record 96 such makes. There has been a lot of speculation about how kickers suddenly became so good at the long kick, ranging from performance-enhancing drugs (there have been a few possible cases) to the kickers’ special “k-balls” to more kick-friendly stadiums.So prior to the 2014 season, I set out to try to see how recently this improvement had taken place, whether it had been gradual or sudden, and whether it was specific to very long kicks or reflected improvement in kicking accuracy as a whole.What I found fundamentally changed my understanding of the game of football.1And possibly offered insight into how competitive sports can conceal remarkable changes in human capability.The complete(ish) history of NFL kickingPro Football Reference has kicking data broken down by categories (0-19 yards, 20-29, 30-39, 40-59 and 50+ yards) back to 1961. With this we can see how field goal percentage has changed through the years for each range of distances:It doesn’t matter the distance; kicking has been on a steady upward climb. If we look back even further, we can see indicators that kicking has been on a similar trajectory for the entire history of the league.The oldest data that Pro Football Reference has available is from 1932, when the eight teams in the NFL made just six field goals (it’s unknown how many they attempted). That year, kickers missed 37 of 113 extra-point attempts, for a conversion rate of 67.3 percent. The following year, the league moved the goal posts up to the front of the end zone — which led to a whopping 36 made field goals, and a skyrocketing extra-point conversion rate of 79.3 percent. With the uprights at the front of the end zone, kickers missed only 30 of 145 extra points.For comparison, those 30 missed extra-point attempts (all with the goalposts at the front of the end zone) are more than the league’s 28 missed extra-point attempts (all coming from 10 yards further out) from 2011 to 2014 — on 4,939 attempts.In 1938-39, the first year we know the number of regular field goals attempted, NFL kickers made 93 of 235 field-goal tries (39.6 percent) to go with 347 of 422 extra points (82.2 percent). In the ’40s, teams made 40.0 percent of their field goal tries (we don’t know what distances they attempted) and 91.3 percent of their XPs. In the ’50s, those numbers rose to 48.2 percent of all field goals and 94.8 percent of XPs. The ’60s must have seemed like a golden era: Kickers made 56 percent of all field goals (breaking the 50 percent barrier for the first time) and 96.8 percent of their extra points.For comparison, since 2010, NFL kickers have made 61.9 percent of their field goal attempts — from more than 50 yards.In the 1960s, we start to get data on field goal attempts broken down by distance, allowing for the more complete picture above. In 1972, the NFL narrowed the hash marks from 18.5 yards from 40, which improved field goal percentages overall by reducing the number of attempts taken from awkward angles. And then in 1974, the league moved the goal posts to the back of the end zone — but as kick distances are recorded relative to the posts, the main effect of this move was a small (and temporary) decline in the extra-point conversion rate (which you can see in the top line of the chart above). Then we have data on the kicks’ exact distance, plus field and stadium type, after 1993.2This info is likely out there for older kicks as well, but it wasn’t in my data.So let’s combine everything we know: Extra-point attempts and distances prior to 1961, kicks by category from 1961 to 1993, the kicks’ exact distance after 1993, and the changing placement of goal posts and hash marks. Using this data, we can model the likely success of any kick.With those factors held constant, here’s a look at how good NFL kickers have been relative to their set of kicks in any given year3This is done using a binomial probit regression with all the variables, using “year taken” as a categorical variable (meaning it’s not treated like a number, so 1961, 1962 and 1963 may as well be “Joe,” “Bob” and “Nancy”). This is similar to how SRS determines how strong each team is relative to its competition.:When I showed this chart to a friend of mine who’s a philosophy Ph.D.,4Hi, Nate! he said: “It’s like the Hacker Gods got lazy and just set a constant Kicker Improvement parameter throughout the universe.” The great thing about this is that since the improvement in kicking has been almost perfectly linear, we can treat “year” as just another continuous variable, allowing us to generalize the model to any kick in any situation at any point in NFL history.Applying this year-based model to our kicking distance data, we can see just how predictable the improvement in kicking has actually been:The model may give teams too much credit in the early ’60s — an era for which we have a lot less data — but over the course of NFL history it does extremely well (it also predicts back to 1932, not shown). What’s amazing is that, while the model incorporates things like hashmark location and (more recently) field type, virtually all the work is handled by distance and year alone. Ultimately, it’s an extremely (virtually impossibly) accurate model considering how few variables it relies on.5So how accurate is this thing? To be honest, in all my years of building models, I’ve never seen anything like it. The model misses a typical year/distance group prediction by an average of just 2.5 percent. Note that a majority of those predictions involve only a couple hundred observations — at most. For comparison, the standard deviation for 250 observations of a 75 percent event is 2.7 percent. In other words, the model pretty much couldn’t have done any better even if it knew the exact probability of each kick!While there is possibly a smidge of overfitting (there usually is), the risk here is lower than usual, since the vast majority of each prediction is driven solely by year and distance. Here’s the regression output:I wish I could take credit for this, but it really just fell into place. Nerds, perk up: The z-value on “season” is 46.2! If every predictive relationship I looked for were that easy to find, life would be sweet.This isn’t just trivia, it has real-world implications, from tactical (how should you manage the clock knowing your opponent needs only moderate yardage to get into field goal range?) to organizational (maybe a good kicker is worth more than league minimum). And then there’s the big one.Fourth downIf you’re reading this site, there’s a good chance you scream at your television a lot when coaches sheepishly kick or punt instead of going for it on fourth down. This is particularly true in the “dead zone” between roughly the 25- and 40-yard lines, where punts accomplish little and field goals are supposedly too long to be good gambles.I’ve been a card-carrying member of Team Go-For-It since the ’90s. And we were right, back then. With ’90s-quality kickers, settling for field goals in the dead zone was practically criminal. As of 10 years ago — around when these should-we-go-for-it models rose to prominence — we were still right. But a lot has changed in 10 years. Field-goal kicking is now good enough that many previous calculations are outdated. Here’s a comparison between a field-goal kicking curve from 2004 vs. 2014:There’s no one universally agreed-upon system for when you should go for it on fourth down. But a very popular one is The New York Times’ 4th Down Bot, which is powered by models built by Brian Burke — founder of Advanced Football Analytics and a pioneer in the quantitative analysis of football. It calculates the expected value (either in points or win percentages) for every fourth-down play in the NFL, and tweets live results during games. Its 19,000-plus followers are treated to the bot’s particular emphasis on the many, many times coaches fail to go for it on fourth down when they should.A very helpful feature of the 4th Down Bot is that its game logs break down each fourth-down decision into its component parts. This means that we can see exactly what assumptions the bot is making about the success rate of each kick. Comparing those to my model, it looks to me like the bot’s kickers are approximately 2004-quality. (I asked Burke about this, and he agrees that the bot is probably at least a few years behind,6I don’t blame Burke or others for not updating their models based on the last few years. It’s good to be prudent and not assume that temporary shifts one way or the other will hold. Normally it is better to go with the weight of history rather than with recent trends. But in this case, the recent trends are backed by the weight of history. and says that its kicking assumptions are based on a fitted model of the most recent eight years of kicking data.7Here’s his full statement: “The bot is about 3-4 years behind the trends in FG accuracy, which have been improving at longer distances. It uses a kicking model fitted to the average of the recent 8-year period of data. AFA’s more advanced model for team clients is on the current ‘frontier’ of kick probabilities, and can be tuned for specific variables like kicker range, conditions, etc. Please keep in mind the bot is intended to be a good first-cut on the analysis and a demonstration of what is possible with real-time analytics. It’s not intended as the final analysis.”)But more importantly, these breakdowns allow us to essentially recalculate the bot’s recommendations given a different set of assumptions. And the improvement in kicking dramatically changes the calculus of whether to go for it on fourth down in the dead zone. The following table compares “Go or No” charts from the 4th Down Bot as it stands right now, versus how it would look with projected 2015 kickers8The exact values in the chart may differ slightly from the reports on the Times’ website because I had to reverse-engineer the bot’s decision-making process. But basically I’m assuming the model gets everything exactly right as far as expected value from various field locations, chances of converting a fourth-down attempt, etc., then recalculating the final expected value comparison using 2015 kickers.:Having better kickers makes a big difference, as you can see from the blue sea on the left versus the red sea on the right. (The 4th Down Bot’s complete “Go or No” table is on the Times’ website.)Getting these fourth-down calls wrong is potentially a big problem for the model. As a test case, I tried applying the 4th Down Bot’s model to a selection of the most relevant kicks from between 25 and 55 yards in 2013, then looked at what coaches actually did in those scenarios. I graded both against my kicking-adjusted results for 2013. While the updated version still concluded that coaches were too conservative (particularly on fourth-and-short), it found that coaches were (very slightly) making more correct decisions than the 4th Down Bot.The differences were small (coaches beat the bot by only a few points over the entire season), but even being just as successful as the bot would be a drastic result considering how absolutely terrible coaches’ go-for-it strategy has been for decades. In other words, maybe it’s not that NFL coaches were wrong, they were just ahead of their time!Time-traveling kickersHaving such an accurate model also allows us to see the overall impact kicking improvement has had on football. For example, we can calculate how kickers from different eras would have performed on a common set of attempts. In the following chart, we can see how many more or fewer points per game the typical team would have scored if kickers from a different era had taken its kicks (the red line is the actual points per game from field goals that year):The last time kickers were as big a part of the game as they are today, the league had to move the posts back! Since the rule change, the amount of scoring from field goals has increased by more than 2 points per game. A small part of the overall increase (the overall movement of the red line) is a result of taking more field goals, but most of it comes from the improvement in accuracy alone (the width of the “ribbon”).How does this compare to broader scoring trends? As a baseline for comparison, I’ve taken the average points scored in every NFL game since 1961, and then seen how much league scoring deviated from that at any given point in time (the “scoring anomaly”). Then I looked at how much of that anomaly was a result of kicking accuracy.9The scoring deviation on this chart is calculated relative to the average game over the period. The kicking accuracy is relative to the median kicker of the period.:Amid wild fluctuations in scoring, kicking has remained a steady, driving force.For all the talk of West Coast offenses, the invention of the pro formation, the wildcat, 5-wide sets, the rise of the pass-catching tight-end, Bill Walsh, the Greatest Show On Turf, and the general recognition that passing, passing and more passing is the best way to score in football, half the improvement in scoring in the past 50-plus years of NFL history has come solely from field-goal kickers kicking more accurately.10Side note, I’ve also looked at whether kicking improvement has been a result of kickers who are new to the league being better than older kickers, or of older kickers getting better themselves. The answer is both.The past half-century has seen an era of defensive innovation — running roughly from the mid-’60s to the mid-’70s — a chaotic scoring epoch with wild swings until the early ’90s, and then an era of offensive improvement. But the era of kickers is forever.Reuben Fischer-Baum contributed graphics.CORRECTION (Jan. 28, 2:22 p.m.): An earlier version of this article incorrectly gave the distances from which extra-point kicks were taken in 1933 and in recent years. Actual extra-point distances aren’t recorded. read more

Football Jerome Baker influenced by Raekwon McMillan and Chris Worley growing into

OSU sophomore linebacker Jerome Baker (17) and senior linebacker Chris Worley (35) combine on a sack againstr Michigan junior quarterback Wilton Speight (3) during their game on Nov. 26 at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes won 30-27. Credit: Mason Swires | Assistant Photo EditorLinebackers at Ohio State have a history of becoming on-campus legends, and emerging as NFL-ready talents by the time they decide to make the leap to the next level. More often than not, the biggest leaders on the defensive side of the ball come from this unit, and soon-to-be junior linebacker Jerome Baker could be just like the players who came before him.From names like James Laurinaitis, Tom Cousineau, Chris Spielman and A.J. Hawk, Baker has some lofty expectations to live up to. Since coming into Columbus as a linebacker and a running back in high school, the Cleveland native has lived up to every expectation placed on him.Totaling 83 tackles this season, Baker flashed his ability to get to the ball carrier, while also racking up 3.5 sacks and a pair of interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Although he made lots of plays by himself, he credited the mentorship of Raekwon McMillan and soon-to-be redshirt senior linebacker Chris Worley as an instrumental piece to his success.“It’s very easy playing alongside Raekwon and Worley,” Baker said at OSU’s media day prior to the Fiesta Bowl. “Their ability alone is really a blessing. It’s made it easier on my confidence. They’re always telling me I can do it. They’ve believed in me from Day One. I’m just glad I can finally play alongside those guys and do what I love doing.”However, Baker will not be playing alongside McMillan, who decided to forgo his senior season for the 2017 NFL Draft. The unquestioned leader of the defense last year, McMillan’s shoes will be hard to fill. The competition for the lead role at linebacker will come down to Worley and Baker, with the advantage going to Worley since he will be in his final season of eligibility. However, McMillan spoke of Baker at media day, saying his play should be singled out. “For a portion of the season, he was playing the best ball on the defense, I figure,” McMillan said. “Against Oklahoma, he was pivotal when it came to stopping Baker Mayfield and other guys like that.”Worley is no slouch either, and seems like the most likely candidate for fulfilling the void left by McMillan. Worley has been around the program long enough that he should be able to fulfill the crazy process McMillan went through before the snap this year.However, Baker’s output this season and the fact he was named as an honorable mention for All-Big Ten has put him close to being named as the leader on defense. That, paired with the praise from McMillan, makes Baker a name to watch for once again next year.“He’s a baller, and he’ll definitely have a tree at Ohio State soon,” McMillan said. read more

Atletico Madrid to hold special tribute for Torres

first_imgThe departing Fernando Torres will receive a special tribute by Atletico Madrid in their final game of the season against EibarThe forward’s contract will expire at the end of the season and he has now announced that he will leave his boyhood club for the second and final time.While Torres has not given any indication over his future plans, Atletico are determined to give their long-serving player a deserved fond farewell at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano next month.“Fernando is a legend of our club,” said the club president Enrique Cerezo, according to Marca.Fati and Suarez shine against Valencia at Camp Nou Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – September 15, 2019 With a mesmerizing first half from Ansu Fati and a brace from Luis Suarez in the second half, Barcelona demolished Valencia at Camp Nou.Valencia…“We have always said that he will make the decision on his future because this is his home.“If he wants to continue his professional footballing career next season in another place we can only thank him for all he has given us, which is a lot, and tell him that the doors of Atletico Madrid will always be open to him when he decides to put an end to his career as a player.“Fernando Torres deserves the best of goodbyes as an Atletico Madrid player and that’s why I’m sure our fans will join us for a special day.“We are already working on making it an unforgettable day for the Atletico family and especially for Fernando.” Torres has said that he is already considering a number of offers as he ponders over his next step in football.last_img read more

Klop aims at the top four finish

first_imgJürgen Klopp managed to guide his team to the Champions League finals but he also has to take care of the domestic league as Liverpool are still fighting for the top four finish.The German coach admitted that it would be far better to play for the title but it hasn’t been possible this season as Manchester City have been phenomenal – but the top four finish would be a success as well.The former BVB manager spoke about his side’s season’s ending as he said, according to Telegraph:divock origi, liverpoolReport: Origi cause Klopp injury concerns George Patchias – September 14, 2019 Divock Origi injury in today’s game against Newcastle is a cause for concern for Jurgen Klopp.Perhaps with one eye on Tuesday’s trip to Italy…“It would be massive. It was actually the main target we had at the start of the season. You want to be champions but it was clear after a few months that would not be possible.”“The target is qualifying for the Champions League. That would be a big success. With the group we’ve got, with how we came to the final and playing with the biggest intensity in all parts, being ready again, then the injuries we had, it would be a massive success. It’s exactly what we want.”last_img read more