We can’t hear Colin Kaepernick any more. He’s being drowned out by noise | Ameer Hasan Loggins

The quarterback ignited a storm by kneeling during the national anthem. He wanted to communicate a message but, sadly, many still refuse to hear it

Colin Kaepernick is everywhere. Like an icon, he is freeze-framed stoically kneeling for everyone to see. We see his image on stickers, T-shirts, graffiti and posters. Its on magazine covers, television shows and social media sites. Oddly, the more we see Kaepernicks likeness, the less we hear his message.

Colin Kaepernick first kneeled during a pre-game national anthem in 2016. His reasoning was simple: [Im] not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.

To Kaepernick his protest was: bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.

He was referring to the fact that many police officers involved in high-profile killings of black people do so with apparent impunity. The killers of Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, Eric Garner, Terrence Crutcher, Philando Castile and Freddie Gray (to sadly name a few) have all gone unpunished. They either were acquitted or, even worse, were never charged with a crime at all.

That is what Kaepernick wants to talk about. Instead, his message is being slowly erased. Some want to make Kaepernicks protest all about Trump. Others want to ignore what he is saying completely and shift the conversation to patriotism, the military and respect for the flag.

The NFL the same league that now treats Kaepernick like a castaway is in on the game, too. After Trumps admonishment of the sports league, some higher-ups tried to turn the kneel into a symbol of unity among players, coachers and owners. It became a protest against, not the politics of the president, but the fact that he criticized the NFL.

That isnt what this is about.

Ive known Kaepernick as a friend for some time now, and I can see how his intentions surrounding the protest are being ignored.

Kaepernick used lucid language to articulate his mission when he said: This [protest] is not something that I am going to run by anybody. I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.

This reminds me of something Franz Fanon poignantly wrote in The Wretched of The Earth, his groundbreaking text on race and colonialism: Each generation must discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it, in relative opacity. Colin doesnt just want to fulfill his mission. He has made his mind up to never betray it.

When Donald Trump was busy threatening to cut the budget for Meals on Wheels, a program that provides meals to older impoverished Americans, Colin Kaepernick was donating $50,000 to their program.

As Trump was signing an executive order to push forward the intensely disputed Dakota Access pipeline, Kaepernick was donating another $50,000 to desperately needed health clinics at Standing Rock.

When Trump was talking about repealing the Deferred Action of Child Arrivals policy, which protected migrants who came to America as children, Kaepernick was donating $25,000 to United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation.

During Trumps tirade about the un-patriotic nature of Kaepernicks taking a knee, he forgets that Kaepernick donated $25,000 towards paying rent for US veterans facing eviction, and providing employment training programs for people who served in military uniform.

We need to eliminate the noise. We need to listen to what Colin Kaepernick is saying, pay attention to what he is actually doing, and why.

As he put it himself: This stand wasnt for me. This [protest] is because Im seeing things happen to people that dont have a voice. People that dont have a platform to talk and have their voices heard and effect change. Im in a position where I can do that, and Im going to do that for people that cant.

Thats why, as this protest gathers steam, its important to know what this kneel is about and what it isnt about.

Kaepernick was the architect of this protest. He was candid with his convictions, and clear with his vision. He could not take it any more. He wanted to talk about black lives being crushed by law enforcement. He wanted to bring attention to the many tentacles of systemic oppression. Kaepernick has been true to his message.

The question is: have we been true to it too?

  • Ameer Hasan Loggins is a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley in African Diaspora Studies

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/27/colin-kaepernick-protest-nfl-take-a-knee

Stadiums of the future: a revolution for the fan experience in sport

Tottenhams new stadium will have its own microbrewery, while the Atlanta Falcons new home will feature the worlds first 360-degree video wall what else does the future hold for sports arenas?

With its own dedicated fromagerie, microbrewery and Michelin-star restaurant, it might be easy to forget you have come to watch the football when you are reclining in one of the premium lounges of Tottenham Hotspurs new 750m stadium. The 61,000-seat behemoth will feature the longest bar in the country, heated seats with built-in USB ports, a glass-walled tunnel so you can see the players before the game and even a sky walk allowing fans to clamber over the roof of the arena.

It will be the most technically advanced stadium in the world, says Christopher Lee, an architect with Populous, the sports and entertainment giant behind the design of the new-look White Hart Lane. It has to provide a reason for people to get off their sofas and leave their 50-inch flatscreen TVs.

As home entertainment systems become ever more elaborate, allowing fans to watch the action from every conceivable angle in ultra-high-definition, the conventional football stadium is having to up its game to lure people from the comfort of their homes. The promise of a pie, a pint and a good singsong in the stands just is not enough.

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People expect more from the experience and theyre willing to pay for it, says Lee. While premium seat tickets to Tottenhams gargantuan silver spaceship will start at 89, membership of its exclusive H Club which comes with provision for guests to store their personal vintage wines, cognacs and liquors in a purpose-built, temperature-controlled on-site reserve will cost 30,000 for two. Thats the price you must pay for enjoying a plate of specially sourced half-time cheese.

Besides the fancy catering, the football pitch itself has to work a lot harder, too. This is the first field of its kind designed to split into three parts and slide seamlessly under the seating stands, revealing an astroturf field beneath for American football, positioned at a lower level to ensure perfect sight lines for both modes of play. Acoustic consultants were brought on board in order to guarantee maximum amplification of crowd noise, ensuring a wall of sound will resonate from the 17,000-seat south stand, conceived as a single tier to rival the Kop at Anfield or the Yellow Wall at Borussia Dortmunds Westfalenstadion.

So, having reached the apogee of transformable robotic pitches, exclusive fine dining suites and perfectly tuned seating, what next for the future of stadiums?

Lee, who has worked on major sports venues around the world, says technology is having a huge impact on how these buildings are being imagined. Twenty years ago we put screens into stadiums, he says. But now we all carry a supercomputer in our pockets, so there are opportunities for layering the viewing experience from seeing different camera angles in your seat, to tracking the heart rate, speed and impact of players wearing smart clothing on the pitch.

He says the next big frontier is holographic representation, describing a world where players might be beamed on to the field from thousands of miles away. In the not-too-distant future you can imagine Real Madrid supporters in So Paulo watching the game in their stadium at the same time as the fans in Spain, he says. Its all about coming together for the collective experience.

Tottenham Hotspurs pitch will be designed to split into three parts to reveal an astroturf field underneath for NFL games. Photograph: Populous

It may sound far-fetched but the technology is already here. In its bid for the 2022 World Cup, Japan promised to record games in 360 degrees with 200 HD cameras and broadcast them around the world live in 3D, allowing players to appear in hundreds of stadiums simultaneously as holographic projections. Microphones embedded below the pitch would have recorded every ball kick and tackle whimper, adding to the sense of realism.

While Japans sci-fi dream lost out to the rippling vaginal vision of Qatars stadium plans, it is American football in the US that is now leading the way in developing next generation venues. Given the eye-watering sums generated from the sale of TV rights (with deals worth $27bn), each team in the National Football League is desperately trying to build bigger video screens and provide faster in-seat wifi than the next, even if most fans will never have the chance to experience it in person. The new $1.6bn Atlanta Falcons stadium, currently under construction and due to open later this year, will feature the worlds first 360-degree video wall, running for 335m around the bowl, as well as a vast a rotating oculus roof, inspired by the wings of a falcon, made of eight 500-ton moving pieces. At one point it was even going to include vibrating seats.

NFL has become an arms race, says the architect John Rhodes of HOK, the firm behind the Atlanta project. It used to be about sheer size, but now everyones focused on the convergence of the physical and digital experience, increasing connectivity in the stadium to bring fans closer to the players.

He says that parametric modelling techniques are having an effect on the geometry of the seating bowl, too, the layout generated by a whole host of interconnected parameters, from acoustics to distance from the bar and proximity to the bench. He sees a future where the seating bowl might be fragmented into smaller groups of 50-100 people, creating group suites to intensify the physical and social interaction between fans, while drones will become a ubiquitous feature for more than providing an elaborate backdrop to a Lady Gaga performance at half-time.

I dont imagine drones will be delivering beers to your seat, as some people think, he says, but I can definitely see linear bars served by drones running around the outside of concourse. It could have a revolutionary impact on how we think of concessions and eliminate queuing.

Others are less enamoured with the high-tech dream. Jacques Herzog of Herzog & de Meuron, the Pritzker Prize-winning Swiss architects behind several renowned stadiums, from the inflatable bubble of the Allianz Arena in Munich to the steel tangle of Beijing Birds Nest, to the colossal brick cathedral of Chelseas forthcoming new stadium, thinks it might all be a distraction. Everything is becoming too artificial, he says. Its like when I watch my son playing Fifa on his console. If you have artificial lawns and roofs to keep out the rain and snow, you lose the physical authenticity of the moment and make it more of a virtual thing.

A computer generated image of Chelseas stadium plans. Photograph: Hussain Nazrul/Herzog and de Meu/PA

He says his focus is always on capturing the local specificity of the place, designing a venue that somehow responds to the fan culture of the team in question, whether thats a glowing lantern for Munich, a sharp white temple for Bordeaux, or an archaic masonry complex of vaults and buttresses for Stamford Bridge. For every project his practice reinvents the model.

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Our Bordeaux stadium is very refined to fit with the citys elegant urban plan, but in London this would be absurd, he says. Equally if we took our Stamford Bridge project to Munich it would look like Lord of the Rings. He describes his forthcoming Chelsea stadium as almost Roman in its raw heft, the polar opposite to Tottenhams shiny UFO.

Above all, he adds, both football and architecture need to keep that sense of the real. The smell of the grass, the proximity of the players to the fans. People come to watch games to have all of their senses stimulated thats what architecture must amplify.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jun/15/stadiums-future-holograms-drones-fan-experience

NBA finals: Unstoppable Warriors beat stunned Cavaliers in Game 2

The Cavaliers put in an improved performance against the Warriors in Game 2 but the Western Conference champions were too strong once again

The Cavaliers put up a strong fight but still fell 132-113 in Game 2 of the NBA finals to the Golden State Warriors, a superteam who are starting to look and this postseason literally are unbeatable.

The Cavaliers played significantly better than they did in the first game of the series, but a triple-double from LeBron James, 20 forced turnovers and 15 stealsstill wasnt enough to topple the best team in decades. It was Golden States 14th consecutive win in the playoffs, besting the longest postseason win streak in league history.

After the game, James summarized how it must feel to face the Warriors in this sort of form. Asked what he needed after the game, he replied simply: some food … and some wine.

Leading the Warriors effort again was Kevin Durant, with33 points. He did it all. He made incredible plays off his own rebounds. He swatted away the ball fromseveral defenders, including James. He even made a shot while falling to the ground.

Team-mate Steph Curry danced circles around his defenders with some nasty crossovers, and ignited the offense with 32 points in his triple-double performance. The crowd shot to its feet whenever Klay Thompson scored. The Splash Brother has been struggling in the postseason but slipped out of his slump, adding 22 points and 7 rebounds. JaVale McGee continued to be impactful, with a huge block and a massive dunk over Kevin Love after he came off the bench. Andre Iguodala also had a colossal block on Channing Frye that brought the crowd to its feet.


KD x JaVale on #NBAonABC!#NBAFinals pic.twitter.com/PAiXU5MoGy

June 5, 2017

Based on the first two games, the next NBA champion appears a done deal. Now it could just be a question of who will be finals MVP.

But it should be remembered that the Cavaliers were 2-0 down at this stage last year, and they didnt take Sundays loss lying down. Indeed, they were just three points down going into halftime.

Its been a great run, but none of that matters unless we can finish the job, said the Warriors head coach, Steve Kerr. Heading to Cleveland were gonna have to be a lot smarter. If we play that game in Cleveland, were not winning.

James carried the team on offense and defense, scoring 29 points and stealing the ball several times. He even joined Magic Johnson and Jerry West as the only players to reach 300 career assists in the finals. Kevin Love caught fire early, assisting James with 27 points and 7rebounds. Kyrie Irving managed 19 points after being guarded heavily by Thompson.

The Warriors had a standout performance, but the loudest cheers at Oracle Arena went to Kerr. He returned to the bench to coach the Warriors after missing most of the postseason due to health issues. Each time the camera turned to him the crowd went wild, and they gave Kerr a standing ovation when the lineup was announced.

Arielle Retting (@aretting)

Another standing ovation for Steve Kerr. Everyone’s very glad to see him back and healthy #NBAFinals2017 pic.twitter.com/zQeFBmO9Po

June 5, 2017

With the series heading to Cleveland for two games, the Cavs must hope they can improve again and level the series on home turf.But based on the evidence so far, the Warriors may be simply too good to beat.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jun/04/nba-finals-cleveland-cavaliers-golden-state-warriors-game-2

Pita Taufatofua: Topless Tongan taekwondo star switches to snow

(CNN)Pita Taufatofua — the topless and oiled Tongan taekwondo fighter who caused a social media storm at the Olympic Games — is turning his attention to qualifying for the Winter Olympics.

His decision to wear traditional Tongan dress and cover himself in coconut oil at the opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro stole the show and provided one of the most talked-about moments of the 2016 Games.

    Let's do this team! #tonga #Brazil #rio #saopaulo #Colombia #Venezuela #usa #chile #spain #korea #nz #earfh #man #nature #travel #calisthenics #yoga #taekwondo #ski #winter #athlete #inspire #motivate #gym #fashion #outdoors #shutupandlift @tongaskiteam

    A photo posted by Pita T (@pita_tofua) on

    Never mind that he lost his only fight in his Olympic debut — Taufatofua was featured in Sports Illustrated, made the list of Who magazine’s sexiest people, and his Instagram profile went from virtually nil to nearly 150,000 followers. A flurry of invites to appear on chat shows across the globe followed.
    Now he wants to be a cross-country skier at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics — despite the fact that he has barely set foot on skis before.
    “I’ve probably spent about four minutes of my life on skis for that video,” he says of the clip on the Olympic Channel announcing his ambition.
    “I wanted to do something sports orientated but completely out of my comfort zone. Being from Tonga, I’m used to sand. I saw the snow for the first time two years ago and I fell in love with it.
    “I want to push myself and show them that regardless of the criticisms anything is possible. Hopefully it inspires people in their own individual challenges.”

    The new ‘Cool Runnings’?

    Taufatofua has been snowboarding — once — on a week’s holiday with his brother, but that is where his wintry forays end.
    And the clock is ticking. His first skiing lesson is booked for January 8, and the opening ceremony for the Nordic Ski World Championships in Finland is 45 days later.
    But in conversation via Skype from his home in Brisbane, Australia, there doesn’t appear to be any doubt in his mind.


    To focus on his Winter Olympics ambitions, he has handed in his notice for his day job as a youth worker.
    “For 15 years, I’ve done that, working with homeless kids, but it feels like this time I can do something bigger,” he says.
    He has also agreed to fill a humanitarian role with the World Taekwondo Federation, helping to spread the sport in refugee camps across the world.

    ‘I guess I’ll pass out’

    To qualify for Pyeongchang, there is a tough points qualification criteria. But he says he is undaunted despite being 10-15 kilograms (22-33 pounds) heavier than his rivals. He is also more used to short, sharp bursts in taekwondo rather than the endurance required for cross-country skiing.

    Set Dreams so big they scare you! @tongaskiteam #tonga #brazil #world #earfh

    A photo posted by Pita T (@pita_tofua) on

    “I didn’t really watch the clips of the races until after I’d decided to do this,” he says. “And you see them all passing out at the end. I guess I’ll pass out too … it’s a really hard sport.”
    His other big obstacle is money. He has set up a crowd funding page — as he did for Rio — to help raise money to finance the dream, the target being $80,000.
    In conversation, he makes the seemingly impossible seem perfectly plausible. Having suffered six broken bones, three torn ligaments, three months in a wheelchair and 18 months on crutches in his quest for an Olympic spot in taekwondo, he hopes this challenge will be less brutal.
    And should he go to South Korea in 2018, will he go bare-chested for a repeat of Rio at the opening ceremony? Inevitably.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/27/sport/tongan-flag-bearer-pita-taufatofua-skiing-olympics/index.html

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