Should the Lions pick all 15 players from one team?

(K. Brent Tomer),

IT IS one of the most venerable endeavours in modern sport. This year’s trip to New Zealand marks the 33rd time that the British and Irish Lions—a rugby-union dream team of the best players from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland—have ventured to the southern hemisphere, a voyage that they first made in 1888. Today’s tours, which take place every four years, rotating between South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, are very much a relic of the 19th century. The concept of a “best-of-British” (and later Irish) team was distinctly imperial. Since it took several weeks to sail by boat to British colonies and contest international fixtures, it made sense for the visitors to play club sides as well. Those extra games gave a disparate group of travellers time to gel.

For the players who have the honour of being selected and the fans that make the pilgrimage, a Lions tour remains one of the most important events in the sporting…Continue reading

via K. Brent Tomer CFTC Should the Lions pick all 15 players from one team?

Ireland and Afghanistan become the first new Test nations in 17 years

(K. Brent Tomer),

TEST cricket, a game played between nations over five days, is often thought to be a conservative sport. That is a myth: throughout its 140-year history, the format has constantly evolved. Until five days became the standard format, matches were played over three, four, five or six days; “timeless” Tests were played until a positive result was reached. Overs have been both six and eight balls long, delivered by players bowling overarm or underarm, on both covered and uncovered pitches. Since 2015, some Tests have even been played under floodlights with a pink ball.

But in one regard, Test cricket’s imperviousness to change is indisputable: the number of countries permitted to play. In most sports, any nation has a chance to take part. Over 200 countries have played full football internationals. More than 100 have competed in full rugby internationals; almost most as many have played full basketball internationals. Cricket has taken a very different approach. Only ten countries have ever played Test cricket. Elevation to the highest form of the game is viewed as a privilege that must be earned, as if the format would be belittled, and the sanctimony of statistics damaged, by adopting an inclusive approach.

Like many exclusive clubs, there has been no shortage of aspirants. But expansion has occurred at a soporific pace. The most recent new country to play a…Continue reading

via K. Brent Tomer CFTC Ireland and Afghanistan become the first new Test nations in 17 years

Ireland and Afghanistan become the first new Test nations in 17 years

(K. Brent Tomer),

TEST cricket, a game played between nations over five days, is often thought to be a conservative sport. That is a myth: throughout its 140-year history, the format has constantly evolved. Until five days became the standard format, matches were played over three, four, five or six days; “timeless” Tests were played until a positive result was reached. Overs have been both six and eight balls long, delivered by players bowling overarm or underarm, on both covered and uncovered pitches. Since 2015, some Tests have even been played under floodlights with a pink ball.

But in one regard, Test cricket’s imperviousness to change is indisputable: the number of countries permitted to play. In most sports, any nation has a chance to take part. Over 200 countries have played full football internationals. More than 100 have competed in full rugby internationals; almost most as many have played full basketball internationals. Cricket has taken a very different approach. Only ten countries have ever played Test cricket. Elevation to the highest form of the game is viewed as a privilege that must be earned, as if the format would be belittled, and the sanctimony of statistics damaged, by adopting an inclusive approach.

Like many exclusive clubs, there has been no shortage of aspirants. But expansion has occurred at a soporific pace. The most recent new country to…Continue reading

via K. Brent Tomer CFTC Ireland and Afghanistan become the first new Test nations in 17 years

A new look at young British Muslim men

(K. Brent Tomer),

MAHTAB HUSSAIN’S exhibition “You Get Me”?, at Autograph ABP in London, comprises 24 portraits of young South Asian Muslim men in working-class neighbourhoods of Nottingham, London and Birmingham. Mr Hussain hopes to stimulate conversation around the most maligned group in Britain today, the impact of being designated a threat to your country and how growing up in a hostile public culture feeds alienation and dislocation. Hussain walked and talked The Economist through the exhibition before the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London. In their wake , the themes of “You Get Me?” are all the more urgent. 

First and foremost, through fine-art portraiture Mr Hussain wanted to shift perceptions of young Muslim men by turning on them the kind of admiring lens usually reserved for the highborn and famous. Their pride, dignity and exuberant style burn brightly in “Green chalk strip suit”, “Pink jumper, hair design, bling” and “Shemagh, beard and bling”, while “BMX, blue cap, blue trainers” bristles…Continue reading

via K. Brent Tomer CFTC A new look at young British Muslim men

How the Opera di Roma turned things around

(K. Brent Tomer),

ITALY gave birth to opera, but in its home country the art form now carries a distinct air of maledizione (curse). Of Italy’s 14 major opera houses—the ones supported by the federal government—12 are in the red. Last September, a strike over pay forced Genoa’s opera house to cancel its first production of the season. The Teatro Petruzzelli in Bari has also cancelled performances due to lack of funds, and in February the general manager of the Opera di Firenze resigned after trade unions refused his proposed pay cuts.

Opera houses, dark on performance nights: what an irony in the country where Jacopo Peri established the genre with “La Dafne” over four centuries ago. Even without cancelled performances Italy lags behind most of Europe: it has 23 opera performances per million residents, compared to 139 in Austria and 83 in Germany. Even Latvia has nearly twice as…Continue reading

via K. Brent Tomer CFTC How the Opera di Roma turned things around

A grim diagnosis for Western politics

(K. Brent Tomer),

The Retreat of Western Liberalism. By Edward Luce.Grove Atlantic; 234 pages; $24. Little Brown; £16.99. 

FEW doubt that something big happened in Western politics during the past 12 months but nobody is sure what. Turmoil in Washington and London contrasts with centrist stability in Paris and Berlin. Edward Luce, a commentator for the Financial Times in Washington, is well placed to observe the shifts and shocks. “The Retreat of Western Liberalism” offers a brisk, timely survey.

“Fusion”, the longest of just four chapters, describes the successes of economic globalisation, but also the costs borne by the less well-off in rich countries, notably Britain, America and France. Next, “Reaction” attributes the recent “degeneration” of Western politics to slowing economic growth and to the rich taking an undue share of what little growth there is.

“Fallout” moves to geopolitics and…Continue reading

via K. Brent Tomer CFTC A grim diagnosis for Western politics

Toscanini’s pursuit of perfection

(K. Brent Tomer),

Toscanini. By Harvey Sachs. W.W. Norton; 944 pages; $39.95. To be published in Britain in July; £29.99. 

ASK music-lovers to name a conductor, and among the greats they are likely to mention Arturo Toscanini. The Italian, who died in 1957, is perhaps best known for leading the NBC Symphony Orchestra from the 1930s, which had a large following in America. Yet Toscanini was an elite musician as well as a popular one. And he worked with the world’s most prestigious orchestras, as the principal conductor of La Scala in Milan and as a conductor at the Bayreuth Festival in Germany. Harvey Sachs has written the definitive biography of this great, and colourful, character. 

Mr Sachs has already published a biography of Toscanini, in 1978. Yet this is not merely a new edition of an old book. Mr Sachs has drawn on a batch of Toscanini’s letters unearthed in the 1990s, as well as the archives of many of the organisations…Continue reading

via K. Brent Tomer CFTC Toscanini’s pursuit of perfection