I know that many of my Murkin Readers turn up their noses at football (okay, “soccer”) because it’s boring, full of fainting goats errr histrionic players and so on.  In many cases, these opinions are justified, but often they are not, when you know the context and background to the action.  Allow me, then, to give you an example.

The English Premier League (EPL) is justly regarded as the toughest upper-rank division in football, far ahead of similar leagues in Italy, Spain, Germany and even Brazil.  EPL footballers are recruited from all over the world, as you will see, and in many cases these guys may play for their national teams, but often struggle to shine in the talent-studded EPL.

The competition among the EPL teams is intense because unlike America’s NFL, where franchises can change cities and therefore fan bases pretty much at will, football clubs are forbidden by law to move around, and thus the supporters’ loyalty could be rooted in over a century’s tradition.  (Hence, by the way, the frequent affrays that occur between the various teams’ fans when they come up against each other.)

The EPL is also expensive, as players cost many millions of dollars to acquire, and their weekly salaries are sometimes in the hundreds of thousands of pounds.  Thus the pressure to perform at a high level for both teams and players is intense, and can be cold-hearted when the standards aren’t met.

Let me give you just two teams as an example of all the above, and highlight a couple of players as well.

Tottenham Hotspur is a London-based team, and their results over the past several years have been disappointing to their fans.  Seldom in the top four at season’s end, there’s actually little reason for them not to be near the top, except maybe for bad management or, as in recent times, indifferent tactics and performance by their midfield and defense.  (I should point out that Spurs’ brilliant goalkeeper Hugo Lloris plays for the World Cup-winning French national team.)  Tottenham’s attack is almost without peer, not just in terms of individual skills, but also in their ability to pair up and create goals and assists for each other.  The two mainstays of the side are England’s #1 striker Harry Kane [sic]  and South Korea’s equally-skilled Son Heung-Min (who’s captain of the Korean team).  At the end of the past five seasons, Son and Kane have not only amassed dozens of individual goals, but also a dizzying number of assists for each other — the combination of goals and assists for this pair is, and has long been, consistently higher than any other EPL team has been able to match let alone beat.  The duo is not only supported but worshiped by Spurs fans.

Sadly, though, Son has had a drop-off in form for the opening half-dozen matches of the 2022/23 EPL season — there seems to be no apparent reason, because he’s pretty much at his peak in age, ability and dedication — but his recent slump caused Tottenham’s manager to bench him for their last match, against Leicester City.

Which brings me to the other team.

Leicester City (pronounced “Lester Sitt-eh” for the Murkins) has been around since 1884, and has seldom won many competitions — sometimes even relegated to the lower leagues — but in the past half-dozen years has become a powerhouse, even winning the 2015/2016 EPL championship.  Since then, Leicester has settled down as a tough middle-order club, with occasional stunning victories over much stronger clubs.  They have not been a pushover, in other words — until the beginning of the current season, where they have been languishing near the bottom of the EPL table.  So Leicester’s next match, against Tottenham, was going to be fought as underdogs — but always with the knowledge that Leicester are a lot better than their lowly position on the table would indicate, even without their star England striker Jamie Vardy through injury.

So on to the match (match #8 in the 35-match season), played two weeks ago.

Despite the disparity in league position, the two teams were fighting on equal terms, goals being scored freely and almost all resulting from great performances and masterful tactics from both sides.  At the 60-minute mark, Spurs were leading 3-2, but the scoreline flattered them because Leicester was not only controlling much of the game, they’d also missed a couple of goal-scoring opportunities which could easily have resulted in the score being reversed in their favor.

At this point, then, the Spurs manager made a substitution, sending on the woefully out-of-form Son Heung-Min.

And magic happened.

Please take fifteen minutes out of your day to watch the highlights video, because it’s one of the most dramatic sporting events I’ve ever seen.

Two Kinds

Some guy at RedState got ahead of himself and had a go at my favorite motorsport (F1, for those who’ve been away living on the Planet Zarg for the past twenty years).

Saith Jerry:

[O]ur taste in auto racing leans heavily toward the NASCAR and IndyCar side of things. Not to slight F1, but it’s long been overly snobbish and high roller hoidy-toidy for our taste. If NASCAR is auto racing’s Lynyrd Skynyrd, F1 is its Dave Matthews Band. You get the idea.

Not quite;  the comparison is more apt if expressed that NASCAR/Indy are more like a garage band:

and F1 like smooth jazz:

Yeah, F1 is a high-roller sport;  I would have thought that Americans would understand that concept better than our European cousins, who are always just one regulation away from Pure Marxism.  (Then again, considering the Biden Maladministration, maybe we’re not doing too badly ourselves.)

Whatever.  The fact is that F1, especially with its all-new formula for 2022, is far more exciting to watch than the parabolic antics of NASCAR — and yesterday’s maligned Saudi GP at Jeddah was one of the most exciting races I’ve ever watched, of any type, despite the sideshow provided by Houthi missiles:

(And despite my dislike of Mr. Woke Lewis Hamilton, he was robbed of a higher finish by pure bad luck.)

I know that given my readership profile I’m going to get a whole lot of stick about this, but I don’t care.  2022 looks like being a brilliant F1 season.

And I don’t even like smooth jazz.

Something Wrong

Down in Ozland, the Melbourne Cup Race is probably the only occasion where the entire country shuts down for the day.  It is one of the biggest horse racing events in the world — indeed perhaps one of the biggest sporting events, period.

So last weekend this monster took place Down Under in, as its name would suggest, in Melbourne, and here are a few pics of the festivities:

Anyone notice anything missing?

Face masks.

And lest we forget, this is the city which saw thuggish cops teargas old ladies, arrest people for walking in parks without a mask, check to see that people were locked up in their homes, and all the other WuFlu-related atrocities brought to them courtesy of the Victoria state government.

There was, however, this:

Punters at the track had to be fully vaccinated and they were separated into three zones which they were not allowed to leave.

Sort of house arrest at the track.

One might have expected at least some of the attendees to be wearing a face condom, but as far as I can see:  none.

I don’t know what this means, if anything, but it sure is interesting.

Well, Now

Here’s an interesting piece of news coming from Seffrica:

Members of the the South African men’s cricket team competing at the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates have been ordered to “take the knee” before every match. A directive issued by the Cricket South Africa (CSA) Board late Monday night outlined the new requirement.
The move follows the team’s T20 World Cup opener against Australia on the weekend when players were seen variously standing, kneeling or raising a fist during the statutory pre-match BLM protest.

And then this subsequent situation:

South African cricket star Quinton de Kock withdrew from a major international competition Tuesday rather than follow a new policy requiring players to kneel for the country’s national anthem in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
De Kock, who was named South Africa’s “Cricketer of the Year” in 2020, and who has served as the team’s captain, made himself unavailable for the team’s T20 World Cup match against the West Indies on Tuesday, rather than be forced to kneel.

I know that few Readers on this here back porch would be familiar with the game and players of cricket, so let me tell you:  this is a big fucking deal.  Quinton de Kock is one of the best cricketers in the world — ask anyone who follows international cricket — and as he’s the team’s wicket-keeper (catcher, in baseball terms) and a first-class batter who has more than once won games all by his own efforts, his loss to the SA team will be incalculable.

That said, Cricket South Africa is more of a political institution than a sports governing body, so they’re not going to make an exception — CSA is the bunch of fools who mandated that all SA cricket teams have to consist of x number of White players, y number of Black players, and z number of “other races”, regardless of talent.  So the teams are picked almost exclusively by color.

Anyway, De Kock has decided not to follow this BLM kneeling bullshit, and good for him.  His courage in putting it all on the line for his beliefs will not be forgotten.


I grew up in South Africa playing, watching and supporting South African cricket.  As with all the major British Empire colonies (except Canada, because they have no summer to accommodate games lasting as long as five days), cricket is often the national sport even when there’s another sport to compete with it (rugby holds that place in New Zealand and to a slightly lesser degree in South Africa).

The first international Test match I watched was at the age of five, when Peter May’s England side played South Africa at my “home” stadium, the Wanderers, in Johannesburg, and thereafter I never missed a single Test played at that ground.  Of course, there weren’t that many because [sigh]  the awful apartheid system of my youth forbade teams from India, Pakistan and the West Indies from visiting South Africa because their players were black.  (Stupid, huh?  But there you are.)  In 1972, England, Australia and New Zealand stopped sending their teams over to South Africa and banned the SA teams from visiting them, so South Africa went into a twenty-year pariah status and Test Cricket fizzled out altogether.

That all changed long after I’d left South Africa and settled in the U.S., when Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress took control, and thankfully ended all that racist nonsense in sport.  FInally, South African crowds could see Test cricket again, and this time against all the teams, including India, Pakistan and my favorite, the West Indies.

So I became an avid cricket spectator again, and even though it was difficult to find TV that featured Test cricket, I began to cheer on South African national teams with the greatest relief.  It helped that the South African cricket team, even after so long a layoff, was a powerhouse side and in the late 1990s and early 2000s dominated World cricket against all comers.

I don’t support them anymore.

One of the unwelcome features of apartheid South Africa was, of course, that there were no Black cricketers because they couldn’t play against White sides locally, and in any event football (soccer) was the preferred sport of Black South Africans.

Unfortunately, one of the policies espoused by the African National Congress was the system of “balance” in sport — that teams had to consist of x number of Whites and y number of Blacks, regardless of talent.  As with all things, cricketing talent ebbs and flows between the various races — whether in England or South Africa, with their internal “multinational” populations — and sometimes there are only a couple of really good players, or even none that can compete at international level.  This is as true for football, where there are hardly any White footballers because football isn’t played much in high schools (rugby and cricket take precedence), as it is for cricket, where there are just not that many Black players to draw from.  (Rugby, interestingly, does not have that problem:  the current national side has just beaten the British Isles’ “Lions” team — a combination of players taken from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — in a Test series where the captain of the “Springboks” is a massive Black guy.)

As a result, while South Africa can always send a Test cricket side to play in, say, Sri Lanka or England, it may not be the best side because there is a racial quota to fill and regardless of talent, skin color must be taken into consideration first — a lopsided inversion of the old “only Whites can be selected” policy from days gone by.

So when I watch South Africa play, I’m always conscious that I’m probably not watching the best South African side possible — and in recent years, South African has fallen from the top ranking in international cricket and dropped to fourth and even fifth on occasion.  I hate that, and so, after a long lifetime of support for South Africa, I’ve stopped doing that and now support mostly England, or whatever team is playing against Australia.

I told you all that so I could tell you this.  The redoubtable Heather Mac Donald, writing in City Journal, has laid open the effect that Critical Race Theory has made on classical music.

The lead reviewer for the New York Times, Anthony Tommasini, urged that orchestra auditions no longer take place behind a screen, in order to address the “appalling racial imbalance” in orchestral ranks. Currently, musicians’ identities are concealed by a screen through most, if not all, stages of an orchestral audition to prevent favoritism or bias (a process known as a “blind audition”). But colorblindness is now regarded as discriminatory, since it favors merit over race.

If that sounds familiar to anyone who read about the South African cricket situation above, it should be.  Try this, too:

BBC Magazine columnist Tom Service also purported to deconstruct the alleged greatness of the canonical repertoire: “The link between patriarchal power in the West and the fact that the classical canon is made of lookalike faces of Great Men is more than coincidental.” Slate complained that referring to well-known composers only by their last names exacerbates classical music’s exclusionary practices. The Louisville Orchestra, for example, had advertised the performance of a Beethoven symphony and the debut of a composition memorializing Breonna Taylor by “Davóne Tines” and “Igee Dieudonné.” To assume that Davóne Tines and Igee Dieudonné need to be “full-named,” whereas Beethoven does not, replicates classical music’s “centuries of systematic prejudice, exclusion, sexism, and racism,” according to Slate.

Once again the present is being press-ganged into atonement for the past, even where the “systematic prejudice, exclusion, sexism, and racism” is patent nonsense.  One might as well complain that African tribal music is racist because it doesn’t have any White players in the genre.

Classical music radio announcers and executives instructed their audience to hear inequity in the cascade of human feeling coming from their speakers. Garrett McQueen, then an announcer for American Public Media, told a Composers Forum roundtable in June 2020: “You are complicit in racism every time you listen to Handel’s Messiah.” (Handel held stock in a slave-trading company.)

There’s more, a whole lot more, and I urge you to read the whole article, as one should for all of Mac Donald’s writing.

Fortunately I don’t have to listen to a subpar, racially “balanced” orchestra which has not drawn from the very best musicians (of all races), just as I don’t have to support a South African cricket team which loses because they’re not fielding the best team possible.

For my classical music, I can listen to older performances created by orchestras which were not beholden to Critical Race Theory and racial quota policies.

I am really glad that I have a huge classical CD collection which, in terms of time, goes back to performances recorded in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and even 80s.  I’m even more glad that I tend to favor solo classical piano pieces, where racial tokenism cannot take place almost by definition — and anyway, I have recordings of all my favorite classical pieces already, many of them just different interpretations thereof played by Rubinstein, Argerich, Andsnes, Lisitsa and Barenboim, to name but a few.  And I have orchestral renditions of the works of Grieg, Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Mozart, Wagner and all the other Old Dead White Oppressive Patriarchal composers which stretch all the way from the Berlin Philharmonic through the New York Symphony and Vienna Philharmonic to the CSO.

Put bluntly, I have a lifetime’s worth of classical music that I love, and have absolutely no need to listen to any “new” performances, ever.  The inferior, woke orchestras of today can go and suck eggs because I see no need to buy their music.

They can ask the NFL, NBA or CNN what it feels like to play to much smaller audiences.  Or the Democrat Party.