Sunday, February 26, 2012

Linsanity vs. Tebowmania

Though Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow are both playmakers on the field, it is hard to compare these two athletes because football is very different from basketball. A basketball season is very long, which allows players to have plenty of games to demonstrate their talent; however, it gives the players less time to get prepared for a game, as they usually have three games a week. Football is the complete opposite, as the season is much shorter. Players only have one game a week, which means that they have plenty of time to get ready for a game, but a lot less games to demonstrate their talent.

Their stories are different. On one hand, after high school, Jeremy Lin did not see his dream of going to play college basketball for a competitive university in California come true, because scouters were too skeptical of his talent and stereotypical of his race. But thanks to his excellent grades, he had the opportunity to attend one of the most prestigious universities in the world: Harvard, where he played varsity basketball and came out of it with a few personal and team records, but undrafted. On the other hand, Tim Tebow was home-schooled from elementary school to high school and then went  on to play college football at the University of Florida, where he won the 2007 Heisman Trophy, received personal awards, led the team to win a couple of championships, and -upon graduation- was drafted by the Denver Broncos.

Yet, somehow, their stories also share some curious similarities. In the personal level, they are both 6’3’’, under twenty five years of age, down to earth, come from Christian families, and are Asian American athletes (Lin was born in The U.S and his family is from Taiwan; and Tebow was born in The Philippines and his family is American). And, in the professional level, they both are new sensations who bring a huge amount of excitement to the game and fans all over the world, and, most importantly, they have the same number one goal, which is to be the best they can be and to do everything to benefit their teams.

This being said, I think Lin’s NBA career will be more successful than Tebow’s NFL career, simply because Lin has demonstrated to possess a better set of skills and abilities than Tebow does, based on what I have seen from them, so far. I understand that Tebow took over the quarterback position when the Broncos’ season record was 1-4 and turned it around into 8-8, leading the team to the playoffs by completing miraculous come backs, and even won the wildcard game against the very tough, Pittsburg Steelers. But to me, all that success was not entirely due to Tebow’s talent, but also because of his teammates' efforts, and the other teams’ mistakes and declinations.

In contrast, Lin started at the point guard position for The New York Knicks after the team had tried everything to succeed, but nothing seemed to work. Lin took control of the team and positive results began to show, instantly. His performance was so spectacular that even when five time All-Star, Carmelo Anthony, suffered a hamstring injury that sidelined him for two weeks, fans were not too worried for Carmelo's return, as the numbers (statistically speaking) that Lin is putting project him to be one of the best players of all times. In addition, Lin's contribution to the Knicks has helped them improve their season record to above .500 by outplaying almost every single player and team he has faced (including championship contenders, such as the Lakers of -five time championship winner, two times Finals MVP, and one time regular season MVP- Kobe Bryant).
I am aware that Tebow, as well as Lin, has proved to be a smart leader, passionate about the game, and his desire to win cannot be more obvious. Nonetheless, I believe Tebow is missing that extra ingredient that Lin has, which is that he is more of a natural talent, as he performs not only up to the expectations, but exceeds them.
Regardless of how these athletes’ careers end up unfolding, I truly admire and respect them. It is impressive to see how well they handle the criticism and pressure from the media, team and fans, and yet are able to build up on their own momentums. I wish them the best and hope that they keep shutting the mouth of all the doubters out there!

- Y gracias por no fumar!

                                            Lin (#17) appears on the left hand side and Tebow (#15) on the right one.
                                                                                   Picture from

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Honoring The 1993 Chipolopolos

1993 Zambian Soccer Team. Picture from

Death is the only certain thing in life... there is no way around it. And, as frightening as it may sound, sooner or later we are all going to say good-bye to this world. Unfortunately, this moment came too soon for a 1993 Zambian soccer team who had shown the world to be ready to set new records of their own. At the 1988 Summer Olympic Games, they pulled one of the most famous soccer upsets by defeating a three time World Cup winner (at the time), Italy 4-0. This performance, along with other great ones, made experts, the Zambian people and the national soccer team itself believe that it would have a great run in the 1994 African Cup of Nations, and be hopeful that it would qualify to its first ever World Cup.

Their death was unthinkable. The team was in the prime of its success and goals were starting to be accomplished. The sky truly seemed to be the limit for this group of players. And, boy, do we wish that things had played out differently for The 1993, commonly nicknamed, “Chipolopolos”? Nevertheless, due to a pilot error, the airplane that was taking the whole team to a qualifying game against Senegal crashed leaving no survivors behind... just sadness, disbelief and frustration.

Therefore, last week in Libreville, Gabon, just miles away from where the tragedy had occurred in 1993, when twenty two year old Sunzu took that last penalty kick and subsequently put it in for Zambia to win this year’s and its first ever African Cup of Nations, there was a mixture of emotions. It was not only an unbelievable and surprising conquest that brought joy and inspiration to the country of Zambia and the rest of the world, but also an overdue victory and celebration that Zambians were awaiting so long for.
Certainly, Zambians needed this boost, but for Kalusha Bwalya, who was the captain of The 1993 Chipolopolos, and happened not to be on the tragic flight because of a schedule conflict he had with former club team PSV, there was no way for this victory to be described, other than pure happiness, pride and justice… it was definitely a special moment for him! Mr. Bwalya deserves a great deal of credit for the development of Zambian soccer throughout the years. Despite the tragic incident, he never lost faith in his country or team, and always kept fighting for the goals that he and his teammates had set for themselves before the accident. From 2003 to 2006, he managed to be a coach and a player for the national team, at the same time.  And currently, he serves as the president of The Football Association of Zambia.

This new generation of Chipolopolos just began their journey as great athletes in this discipline. Without a doubt, they will give their country more reasons to celebrate, to be excited, to be joyful and to be proud of them. This is a young group of soccer players who like being the underdogs, proving people wrong and dealing with pressure, as they have the courage and spirit to overcome any obstacles that may be presented along the way and are unquestionably prepared for the task. They are fearless, talented, inspirational and fun to watch. And, I would not be surprised if they made it to the 2014 World Cup. But for now, let's all rejoice for the 2012 African Champions and hope for the best because Zambia can finally believe and dream big again. And this, my friends, is another certain thing in life now!

                                                                                                                     - Y gracias por no fumar!

          2012 Zambian Soccer Team after winning its first African Cup of Nations. Picture from

Bwalya holding the African Cup of Nations trophy. Picture from

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Real Warrior

It is no coincidence that Carles Puyol is so successful at what he does for a living.  Puyol is an amazing defender who is humble, gives one hundred percent all the time, and plays for the name in the front of the jersey, instead of the name on the back of it. Without a doubt, he is any forward’s nightmare as he is one tough defender who never gives up and leaves everything on the field. He is considered by his adversaries to be a “wall”, or a “blockage on the road”, if you will, because very rarely someone is able to go by him with the soccer ball.  

The skills and abilities just mentioned and his actions on and off the field have helped him tremendously to earn the right and privilege to be the captain of his all-time career club team: F.C. Barcelona. Any coach would be more than thrilled to have Puyol play for his team, as he simply is not only the backbone of the team, but the heart and soul of it. I am sure that when Puyol decides to retire, he will be remembered by many for being one of the best defenders in the history of the sport, winner of uncountable tournaments, trophies and personal awards, extremely gifted, respectful, a leader, and passionate for the game, as well as, protective of his teammates.

He is definitely a very admirable soccer player and someone who younger generations should look up to. The world of sports really needs more athletes like this awesome soccer player, who is currently thirty three years old, but still kicks the ball like a twenty year old.

Other soccer players who have similar characteristics to Carles Puyol are Ryan Giggs of Manchester United (English Soccer) and Iker Casillas of Real Madrid (Spanish Soccer), among others.

- Y gracias por no fumar!

Carles Puyol (F.C. Barcelona uniform). From