Ladies and gentlemen, Kendrick Lamar...
And with that, I dub Kendrick Lamar the best musical act in the world right at this minute. Oh and he is easily the best dancer in the world right now, plus he is head and shoulders above any hip hop competition. You would have noticed the emphasis on the ghost-writing lines of 'King Kunta' there and that isn't accidental, but as you'd know, 'King Kunta' came out long before the recent ghost-writing shenanigans; Lamar knows that ya'll are sharing bars.
Let's take a pause at truly marvel at his dance moves though...
I'm somewhere in between thinking that I can dance like Lamar and just resembling this Slim Jesus guy. Oh well.
We shall start our journey around the sporting globe in Australia where the NRL's best players have strongly voiced their opinions on their welfare and rights. With Cameron Smith and Jonathan Thurston, arguably the two best players of the past decade and possibly ever voice their opinions, people tend to listen. Hence both of these lads have taken it upon themselves to let the NRL know that their current treatment of the players isn't up to standard and action will be taken if the players' needs aren't somewhat adhered to.
The three major issues that the players want addressed are: 5-day turnarounds between games (clearly not enough time to recover and then prepare), eight weeks annual leave instead of six and a better retirement fund.
Personally, I believe that is a starting point and that the players aren't happy with a lot of things about David Smith's running of the NRL. While the NRL is in my eyes the best competition in the Southern Hemisphere, recent seasons have seen the gap between the way NRL officials and players, fans and clubs see the game. Players, coaches and fans have continued to grow increasingly disenfranchised with the NRL for a number of reason stretching from vastly inconsistent officiating to the care given to players forced to retire early such as Taniela Tuiaki and Simon Dywer.
Boycotting the Dally M awards has been discussed, which as Thurston is pretty much a certainty to win would be a pretty big deal. I'd be happy with any sort of action and wouldn't see some sort of boycott as a negative, I'd love it because there are many issues in the NRL that need to be ironed out as the league ventures into an unexplored level of finances and popularity.
This has all come about after a season in which I've heard many whispers about how many NRL clubs feel the same way about the NRL. Clubs obviously have different priorities to the players, which makes the fact that they both aren't happy with the NRL even crazier but it does make for an interesting wee situation. Clubs might support players in their quest, while players might return the favour as they share a common goal of change.
Right now, as I'm writing this it is pissing down. Wind, rain everything and I would much rather be somewhere near where kiwi surfer Ricardo Christie is ... surfing Trestles in Califorina. Christie had a slow start to round 1 as he finished third but has another chance to qualify for the knockout stages in round 2 as he's due to go up against Aussie Matt Wilkinson at the Hurley Pro.
Christie has so far enjoyed a solid debut season in the World Surfing League, he's currently sitting in 30th of roughly 35 surfers. Given that the WSL resembles a surfing murders row with heats containing some of the world's best going at each other, you could argue that the professional surfing tour is the strongest it has ever been. Christie has three events after this one and it wouldn't take much for him to sneak into the top-20, as he's on 9,450 points and Adrian Buchan who is currently 20th has 14,500 - Christie got 5,200 points for a 5th place finish so you do the math. Shout outs to Christie, he's holding his own and it's great.
In England, we've got golden girl athlete Paula Radcliffe knee deep in doping allegations that she is staunchly denying. Radcliffe, simply put is a long distance runner who has World Champioship gold medals and held a marathon world record which has made her one of Britain's most popular female athletes. However, Radcliffe was implicated in doping activity by a Parliamentary committee.
Radcliffe has been a anti-doping campaigner, so she obviously isn't happy that her named is being thrown around in these circles. Such is life at the moment, that after Lance Armstrong denied doping allegations to such an extent, athletes aren't given the benefit of the doubt anymore. However, this does feel a little funky and I wouldn't be surprised if this all fizzles out because Radcliffe was all good.
Another Brit in the news is David Beckham who is closer than ever to setting up a Major League Soccer franchise in Miami. Apparently he's been scouting out a spot for a stadium, which looks like it will get the go ahead pretty soon so shout out to you Becks. What caught my eye about this news and something that didn't get my attention way back when Beckham signed with the LA Galaxy was that part of his contract included the opportunity to own a MLS franchise. It all makes sense now.
I have been doing my Rugby World Cup research lately and one of the key things I've learned is how many Pacific Islanders are playing in Europe. I'm sure the trend extends to Tonga as my research hasn't quite taken me that far, but Samoa for example only have two players who played in Aotearoa this season and two players from Samoa. Fiji have one Nemani Nadolo and a player from the Waratahs as well as two players from Fiji, with the rest of the Samoan and Fijian squads playing in Europe or Asia.
Personally, I love this. This means that there are more players earning a healthy living for their talents, making the most of opportunities that the Pacific Islands or Aotearoa simply can't offer. I did also read a yarn about the dark side of this with many young Islanders being exploited by professional rugby clubs and agents, but it surely must be seen as a general positive and I reckon Samoa and Fiji look stronger than ever.
Samoa are an interesting case when you cast your mind back to the last World Cup as drama followed them like a little brother. That created a vast canyon between the players and officials which looking at this Samoan squad now, must have been sorted out. I'd say that the players told the Samoan Union and in turn the Prime Minister that they are doing pretty well in Europe and that should Samoan rugby still be a slight shambles, they'd just keep trucking along with their clubs. Samoan rugby has sorted its shit out and the players have responded which is cool.
Sidenote - it's highly possible that many - yes, many Pacific Island players earn more than the All Blacks thanks to European clubs.
The National Hockey League swings into overdrive this weekend with the teams converging on Whangarei for a week of hockey. That means we've got two lots of games this weekend with the ladies draw serving us up a battle of the bridge between Auckland and North Harbour tomorrow. I'd also keep an eye on Northland vs Midlands tomorrow as well as Midlands vs Canterbury on Sunday. Gemma Flynn leads the women's goal scorers with three from two games, but she's being chased down by the likes of Canterbury's Georgie Blackwood and Central's Caryn Paewai.
The men's draw has a few bigguns' as well with joint-leaders North Harbour and Auckland going to battle tomorrow while Sunday has Canterbury vs Capital. Two Black Sticks lead the goal scorers with Harbour's James Coughlin and Capital's Stephen Jenness both on three goals.
Welcome to America, where I'm petty sure tennis player James Blake got manhandled by police just because he's not white.
A few US Open funnies...
Shit the bed, there's still US Open tennis! I'll just tell you who won come Monday. Until then, here's Slim Jesus....