Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sports Crossroads in Sochi and New Jersey

Next Sunday Super Bowl XLVIII will be the first Super Bowl played in cold weather.  Much has been made of the two teams, Seattle and Denver coming from the first two states that legalized marijuana and Richard Sherman's tirade against Michael Crabtree.  However there are other interesting facts about the game and the Sochi winter Olympics which begin the next weekend.
This is only Seattle's second trip to the big game and Russia's second time hosting the games (the first was in 1980 which the US and other .  The Super Bowl is not normally politically charged but the Olympics in the past have been.  New Jersey, where the Super Bowl has been held, is the site of political controversy with Gov. Chris Christie over bridgegate and difficulties following superstorm Sandy.

Russia has massive security for the games as it it located in the Caucasus region as it it near Chechnya where a war of independence was crushed.  The Tsarnaev brothers, who bombed the Boston marathon, are ethnic Chechens who were refugees who spent part of their childhood in nearby Dagestan.  A train station in Volgograd (Stalingrad in the Soviet Era) was bombed.  Russia also has been condemned for it's harsh new antigay law.  President Obama has refused to attend supposedly because of the law but also because Russia has given temporary asylum to Edward Snowden.

Amidst all the stories of controversy there can still be inspiring stories of athletic prowess.  If the Seahawks win with their starting quarterback Russell Wilson, he will be the second African American quarterback to lead his team to a Super Bowl win since Doug Williams defeated the Denver Broncos (led by John Elway) 42-10.  In Sochi there are endless possibilities for inspiration provided that there are no other incidents.

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Near to Sochi is the Ukraine on the Black Sea which now has political unrest.  Here is a debate on what is really going on there.

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