The Word On...

The Word On...

May 6, 2015 5:35pm

Doping and Jail

In an effort to keep sports “pure,” Germany is close to joining France, Italy, and Austria on a growing list of countries that have criminalized doping, reports Vice Sports. In short: Athletes could face jail time if caught using or testing positive inside Germany. The story isn’t as simple as “You’re a cheater, we’re sending you to jail,” though, as Brian Blickenstaff of Vice Sports explains.

Clement de Maillard, a case officer at Interpol and the liaison to the World Anti-Doping Association, thinks so. "We note some criminal behavior among athletes regarding the financial stakes of sport," he said last month by phone. "And the way they cheat? I consider the way they cheat as a type of fraud."

There are multiple challenges to prosecuting a fraud case over, say, race winnings. For one thing, it's difficult to draw a clear, bright line between drug use and victory. There are too many other variables, like talent, that could also explain why one competitor beat another. It would also be difficult to define a victim in these cases: Is it just the second place competitor? Is it every competitor who participated?

Read more here.


Ping Pong Rally

Ping pong, or more accurately table tennis, has been keeping drunk college kids amused for years. It is also a very popular sport and is even featured in the Olympics. This may not be the longest, or even best rally, ever, but it’s still pretty sweet.  

[h/t: For the Win]


Mayweather-Pacquiao Suing Periscope?

If you kept up with the extravaganza that was the Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao fight, it was pure boxing. Highly-respected reporters were being denied credentials, gloves were a controversy—it was just, umm, boxing. Even after the fight, the drama continues. Now, the camps have beef with the live-streaming Periscope app. From Awful Announcing:

Todd DeBoef, president of Top Rank Boxing which promotes Pacquiao told ESPN that he’s not sure how much Periscope hurt the PPV numbers, but one thing is for sure, “We are going to seek whatever remedy we have to go after people who essentially stole our product.” Periscope took down many streams, but others popped up as fast to replace them.

In advance of the fight, HBO and Showtime sought and received a temporary restraining order against which had promoted a free stream of the fight. Both networks were aggressive in protecting their intellectual property before the fight, but now after the fact, it appears Periscope was the bigger threat rather than websites.

Check out more here.


More On May-Pac

Like most people, I didn’t want to shell out one hundred large ones to watch the fight. Hell, I didn’t even watch the fight. But, a lot of people around the country probably went to a local watering hole to catch the big match. And “I mean, they are only paying $100 for the fight, so why are they charging $15 to get in?” was probably a big complaint. The thing is, according to Deadspin, bars pay a ton of money to get the fight, and probably don’t make a dime off you. From Deadspin:

A sports bar can’t just pay the $89.95 pay-per-view fee, open the doors to a few hundred eager boxing fans, and then reap profits. That’s because bars have to purchase a special license from a company called J&J Productions, which handles selling the rights to the fight to commercial venues. And what do those licenses run? We put in a call to J&J and pretended to be a bar owner looking to buy the fight, and this is the quote we got:

“Prices are determined according to the fire code’s limit for the business. if it holds 200 people, this event will be $6,500. For 500 people it will be $15,500. We have a program that gives us a price when we put the fire code limit into it.”

That’s a lot of money, man. If a 200-capacity bar buys this fight, it would need to pack the house and then have each patron spend at least $32 in order to break even (and that’s setting aside the bar’s usual expenses).

Tips your waiters and waitress, people. And read more here.


Is Apple Trying to Kill Spotify?

It appears so, according to The Verge. Apple is apparently trying to muscle music labels away from renewing Spotify’s license to stream music through its free tier, to reduce the competition once they launch their own streaming site. Apple has a lot of money. This should get interesting.

Apple has been using its considerable power in the music industry to stop the music labels from renewing Spotify’s license to stream music through its free tier. Spotify currently has 60 million listeners, but only 15 million of them are paid users. Getting the music labels to kill the freemium tiers from Spotify and others could put Apple in prime position to grab a large swath of new users when it launches its own streaming service, which is widely expected to feature a considerable amount of exclusive content. "All the way up to Tim Cook, these guys are cutthroat," one music industry source said.

Read the entire article here.


Tattoos + Apple Watch = No Good

Let’s get this out of the way: I think the Apple Watch is a bit ridiculous. Do you really need to be plugged in so much so that you can’t wait to take your phone out of your pocket? Sadly, most people would probably say yes. Apparently, the Apple Watch is not getting along with tattoos. IMore has more (get it?):

So does the Watch run into problems with wrist tattoos? Yes and no. I spent an hour today testing the Watch's sensor reading on multiple tattoo colors, and have indeed managed to replicate some of the issues Reddit and Twitter users were having.

For disclosure: We tested the Watch's sensors against tattooed and non-tattooed sections on both the wrist and elsewhere on the body. On non-tattooed non-wrist sections, the sensors gave identical readings as when also tested on the wrist; on tattooed sections, sensor readings varied wildly depending on colors and shading.

Check out the rest here, including an update from Apple.


Twitter Is In Trouble

Twitter as we know it may be dead, says Slate. Could it soon join MySpace in the social media graveyard? Maybe…. Although it has more than 300 million users, Twitter is having its share of problems. From Slate:

On the earnings call, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo specifically attributed the quarter’s revenue shortfall  ($436 million, short of a projected $440 million to $450 million) to the underperformance of some of Twitter’s new “direct response” advertising products that have not performed as well as expected. Examples include Twitter’s “mobile-app install” ads, which offer a direct link to install an advertiser’s app. While Twitter hasn’t mentioned any new direct-response strategies, Costolo said it hopes to boost its advertising revenue by acquiring TellApart, “a leading marketing technology company providing retailers and e-commerce advertisers with unique cross-device retargeting capabilities.” This is a bad omen. When Google bought DoubleClick, it was buying DoubleClick’s utter dominance in the advertising sector, not its technology. TellApart doesn’t have that kind of dominance; Twitter’s purchase will get it TellApart’s technology and consumer profiles. Neither merits a headline announcement in an earnings report.

For more, check out Slate.


Dodgers Prank Is Great

Baseball is known for great pranks. After all, when you play 162 games a year, you tend to get bored. Last week, the Los Angeles Dodgers had some fun with rookie center fielder Joc Pederson. They changed out his walk-up music to feature songs by Hansen and One Direction. If you don’t know who those bands are, there is some “MMMBop” for you below.

[h/t: For the Win]


Get That Song Out of My Head

It happens to the best of us: We catch a piece of a song in a store or on the radio and for the life of us can’t get it out of our head. Typically, it’s a stupid pop song that deserves to be put out of its misery (sadly, "MMMbop" above fit that category during its run). Well, there may be an answer. Slate says that a report published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology has come up with a solution: chewing gum.

Testing the theory that interfering with "articulatory motor programming"—that is, the motor skills involved in speech—by chewing can disrupt the formation of unwanted musical memories, researchers at the University of Reading conducted three experiments involving chewing gum and listening to catchy tunes. (The initial idea for the research came from an inauspicious source: an anonymous online post touting the anti-earworm benefits of chewing on cinnamon sticks.)

The first had participants listen to “Play Hard” by David Guetta, who is perhaps the king of earworm-producing music, and then report any time they thought about the song (as opposed to hearing it in their heads)—both when they were actively trying to suppress the song from their memory and when told they could "think freely" about whatever they wanted. The second experiment was essentially the same, but participants reported both when they just thought of the song and when they actually heard the music play in their heads.

Let’s put it to the test: Below are some stupid songs that will probably get stuck in your head. Good luck!



Grand Prix Doesn’t Go Well

The inaugural Grand Prix of Louisiana (an IndyCar race) seems to have been a giant… well, you get the point. The Louisiana Raceway, which cost taxpayers $4.5 million, according to Vice Sports, held the event, and by all accounts it was kind of a disaster. Vice Sports covered the event:

The Louisiana Raceway reps spoke to the press of trying to establish a "festival-like" atmosphere to lure the curious and casual. Alas for the inaugural Grand Prix of Louisiana's gate numbers, it was competing that weekend with two massive, long-established, and beloved (free) festivals: French Quarter Fest, which is mostly music, and the Louisiana Strawberry Festival, which is a little of everything, but mostly strawberries.

Whether they were suffering under restrictions of budget or imagination, the Grand Prix's attempts at Festive Louisiana Flavor didn't impress. Although they mostly showed blue "No Signal!" rectangles, the electronic billboards arrayed around the horizon-spanning parking lots occasionally displayed a Twitter survey on jambalaya vs. gumbo; the punitively priced food court did offer both. In a forsaken midway, surrounded by unridden carnival rides whose gondolas dangled lifelessly in the heat, a funk band blew brass towards an empty arpent of parking lot.

You have to check out the photos here.


NFL Fans Suck at Grammar

NFL comment boards are typically filled with pissed-off fans, who, under the heat of the moment, don’t care much if they’re using to, too, or two correctly. Or, maybe they don't know the difference? This leads to the grammar police rolling through, poking holes, and generally being ass-hats. Which NFL fan-base is the worst? The Wall Street Journal wanted to know and used Grammarly, a proofreading company, to find out. Congrats to the Washington Redskins—you are terrible at grammar.

Grammarly, an automated proofreading company, can use algorithms to check writing for more than 400 types of spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. Armed with this, the Count did the one thing that made the most sense: Make Grammarly rank each NFL fan base on its writing skills. To do so, they reviewed 150 reader comments that were at least 50 words long from the news section of each NFL team website (12,728 total words, on average, per team). The Redskins finished dead last with 16.5 mistakes per 100 words—roughly 30% worse than New Orleans Saints fans, the NFL’s second most typo-prone fan base.

Check out the full list here. And Racer X commenters below? Beware!


NFL Mock Drafts

Mock drafts are generally a farce. No reporter can tell you who exactly is going where, aside from a few selections. Then why do sooooooo many websites publish them? Because people read the hell out of them. They are page-view gold. People read them, get pissed, leave a grammatically incorrect comment (see above) and then look at the other thousand scattered around the Internet. I’m guilty of it, minus the comment part (I swear). Anyway, how accurate are they? The New York Times found out:

Despite all the brainpower devoted to projecting picks, the truth is that no one can possibly know what is going on inside all 32 N.F.L. teams. As a result, the rate of success of mock drafts is low. Last year, of 115 evaluated by Huddle Report, none had more than eight picks going to the right team in the first round.

Robby Esch, the owner of Huddle Report, which has rated mock drafts since 2002, said that if anything, predictions were getting less accurate. Because of changes to the rookie salary cap and option years, he said, teams have become more willing to make trades, which in turn throws off many mock drafts. In particular, there is a hunger for low-first-round picks, because players taken then are eligible for a fifth-year option. That makes the second half of the first round tough to forecast.

Read more about it here.


Reporter v. Manager

This week in manager vs. reporter, Nigel Pearson, manager of Leicester City, calls a reporter an ostrich and then storms out. BURN! 

[h/t: The Big Lead]


Huge Crash in the UK

Adam Sterry’s huge crash at Canada Heights at the British Motocross Championship last weekend was captured on GoPro and….. and, just watch. Max Hind, who captured the footage and contributes to Racer X, tells us both riders are okay after the crash. That was a close one.


Historic MotoGP Battles

Somehow, Valentino Rossi is still winning MotoGP races. But his biggest battles were against Max Biaggi. This stuff is crazy and even includes flip-offs at very high speeds. "We make very much fight," sums up a young Rossi. Check out this cool footage.