Sunday, June 29, 2014

The scourge of link rot

One of the big problems with the Internet is the here-today, gone-tomorrow nature of online information.
A web researcher or typical web surfer can’t rely on online information being there when they want it. Unlike a physical book, data stored online is ephemeral.
This leads to bookmarked websites and weblinks leading to “page not found” error messages. It’s a problem dubbed “link rot.”
I recently ran an online tool from BrokenLinkCheck.com on Tech-media-tainment. It processed 1,178 web pages and found 570 broken links. It took me hours to go in and clear out the dead links.
I like providing weblinks for readers of my blog. Weblinks provide useful resources and give credit to websites that originate information. But it’s almost not worth it if it eventually lards up your website with dead links.
The worst offenders for broken links are legacy news organizations like print newspapers and magazines. They’re always changing URLs for stories, moving them to new databases or just deleting them when they get old. Websites for the New York Times, USA Today and Chicago Tribune were frequent offenders in my review.
The best websites for keeping links permanent are digital news organizations like the Huffington Post, Business Insider and Wikipedia.
In other cases, I had link rot on Tech-media-tainment because businesses and organizations I had linked to had ceased operation.
In February, media journalist Jim Romenesko reported that U.S. News deleted its archived web content published before 2007.
In March, Re/code reported that NBCUniversal was shutting down two websites, DailyCandy and Television Without Pity, and taking the content offline.
Last fall, the New York Times reported on a Harvard University study that found that 49% of hyperlinks in U.S. Supreme Court decisions no longer work.
A solution might be on the way via a web service called Perma CC, Gigaom reported. But it’s just for academic and legal research.
Knowing my luck, some of these weblinks to news articles won’t work in a year. Fingers crossed though.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Fringe sports, sexy sports, fake sports – a roundup

This month, Tech-media-tainment took an in-depth look at the world of fringe sports.
The audience for most of these sports will remain limited. Some will fade away. A few have the potential to cross over to the mainstream, including CrossFit and competitive climbing. Others are just plain goofy.
Here’s a roundup of the series in chronological order:

Why do some sports become mainstream successes while others stay on the fringe? (June 2, 2014)

Fringe sports looking to attract bigger fan bases (June 4, 2014)

Wide world of weird sports (June 5, 2014)

Oddball sports that want to be taken seriously (June 9, 2014)

CrossFit, parkour, competitive climbing – sports of the future (June 11, 2014)

Women’s professional sports get short shrift (June 20, 2014)

Women’s pro billiards is pretty bad-ass (June 21, 2014)

Sexy women’s sports don’t seem to have staying power (June 24, 2014)

Top 10 fictional sports in movies (June 27, 2014)

Related stories from the archives:

Top 10 oddest professional sports (Oct. 3, 2010)

Superstar players, TV coverage and intangibles are the ingredients for a popular pro sport (Dec. 18, 2008)

Photo: 2012 L.A. Beauties team of the Lingerie Basketball League. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Top 10 fictional sports in movies

The world has enough sports, but Hollywood can’t stop making more.
What follows is my list of the top 10 fictional sports from movies.

Rollerball

In a futuristic society where corporations have replaced countries, the violent game of Rollerball is used to control the populace by demonstrating the futility of individuality. The original movie is set in the year 2018.
“Rollerball” (1975) has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 69% positive reviews. The 2002 remake earned a dismal 3% score. (A film is certified as “fresh” if it gets 60% or greater positive reviews.)

The Running Man

In a dystopian future in 2019, a television show called “The Running Man” entertains and pacifies the populace. On the reality show, convicted criminal “runners” must escape death at the hands of professional killers called “stalkers.”
“The Running Man” (1987) has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 61%.

The Hunger Games

In a dystopian future, the nation of Panem holds an annual televised fight to the death featuring young men and women from the 12 districts as punishment for a past rebellion.
The original film in the franchise, released in 2012, has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 84%.

Quidditch

The game of Quidditch in the “Harry Potter” fantasy movies is played with flying brooms and enchanted gold balls. But that hasn’t stopped fans of the books and movies from trying to turn Quidditch into a real-life sport, usually on college campuses. (See Wikipedia entry on Quidditch and website for the International Quidditch Association. Photo from IQA Facebook page.)


Robot boxing

The science-fiction action movie “Real Steel” (2011) is set in 2020 when human boxers have been replaced by robots.
There have been real robot-fighting competitions, most notably Battlebots and Robot Combat League.
“Real Steel” has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 60%.

Transcontinental Road Race

The 1975 cult action movie “Death Race 2000” takes place in a dystopian American society in the year 2000, where a murderous cross-country road race is a national form of entertainment. In the annual Transcontinental Road Race, points are scored not just for speed, but for innocent pedestrians killed during the race.
“Death Race 2000” has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 85%.

Light cycle racing

Light cycle racing is one of the deadly games depicted in the computer world of “Tron” (1982) and its sequel “Tron: Legacy” (2010).
“Tron” has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 70%, while its sequel scores 51%.

Skeet surfing

The 1984 comedy film “Top Secret!” featured a sequence showing the sport of skeet surfing, which combines skeet shooting and surfing.
“Top Secret!” has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 76%.

Baseketball

The comedy “BASEketball” (1998) was about the creation of a new sport called Baseketball that combined baseball and basketball.
“BASEketball” received 42% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.

Thunderdome

In “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” (1985), the post-apocalyptic town of Bartertown holds gladiatorial fights in a cage called the Thunderdome.
The third in the Mad Max series of films scored 81% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.

Other online lists on the subject:

The 10 Greatest Fictional Sports Ever Invented (Cracked; April 17, 2010)

25 Best Fictional Sports (College Humor)

The 10 Greatest Fictional Sports and Games (Topless Robot; Nov. 22, 2010)

Top 10 Science Fictional Sports (Cillian McGillycuddy; May 17, 2014)

10 Fictional Games that Lunatics Have Recreated in Real Life (io9; Aug. 10, 2011)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sexy women’s sports don’t seem to have staying power

Combining sexy women and sports is an age-old formula for event promoters. But while these sports might attract curiosity-seeking men at first, they don’t appear to have staying power.
Foxy boxing, mud wrestling, Jell-O wrestling and pillow fighting are examples of flash-in-the-pan sexy women’s sports.
What follows is a review of sexy women’s sports that I’ve covered in the past and some new ones.

Legends Football League

Founded in 2009 as the Lingerie Football League, it rebranded last year as the Legends Football League in order to gain some respectability. The women still play in bikini bottoms and sports bras however.
The LFL expanded into Canada in 2012 and Australia in 2013. The league hopes to expand into Europe, Asia and Latin America.
The U.S. LFL is currently in its fifth season. The Chicago Bliss is the reigning champion.
The league has had its ups and downs, with nine defunct teams. But it continues to chug along, providing hope for operators of other sexy women’s sports.


Sugar N Spice Football League

A rival to the LFL is the Sugar N Spice Football League. While the LFL puts the emphasis on attractive women who can also play tackle football, the Sugar N Spice Football League doesn’t have as many model pretty players.
The Sugar N Spice Football League is now in its fourth season, which runs May 24 to Aug. 16.
It currently has eight teams in two states (Texas and Oklahoma): SA Texas Cowgirls (San Antonio), Austin Angels, RGV McAllen Mystics (Rio Grande Valley, McAllen, Texas), Laredo Roses, Corpus Christi Mermaids, Valley Vixens (Harlingen, Texas), El Paso Envy, OKC Rayn (Oklahoma City). The website lists four other teams that aren’t on the 2014 game schedule.


Leather and Lace Football League

The Leather and Lace Football League was a sexy women’s football league that played in 2011 down south. It featured three Mobile, Ala.-based teams: Dauphin Island Dreamz, Mobile Bay Vixens and Grand Bay Ravens.
The players wore sports bras and boy shorts, along with shoulder pads, knee pads, a helmet and cleats, similar to the LFL.
The league’s website is no longer active.

(Related reading: “Despite the name, Leather and Lace Football is no girly game” a June 9, 2011, article by Alabama Media Group.)

Bikini Basketball Association

The Bikini Basketball Association was founded in 2012 and held its inaugural season in 2013 with four teams: Illinois Heart, Miami Spice, Atlanta Storm and Houston Inferno. A second season is currently under way.
The Illinois Heart is the reigning BBA champion.


Lingerie Basketball League

The Lingerie Basketball League held its inaugural season in 2011 with four Los Angeles-based teams. The L.A. Beauties won the first championship.
The LBL conducted a second season in 2012, but there was no championship game. A championship game between the L.A. Divas and L.A. Glam was announced, but never held.
The LBL did not play in 2013 and is currently inactive.
The LBL earned some media coverage during its short life, mostly just a chance for news outlets to run pictures of pretty women. (See MTV Guy Code and SI.com.)


Bikini Basketball League

The Bikini Basketball League was announced in January 2011.
It held tryouts in March 2011. But the league went no further than that.
It did come up with a lot of funny slogans though:
  • “Excellence or bust.”
  • “Our girls can’t dunk, but they’re fly.”
  • “All trunk, no dunk.”
  • “No matter the score, it never gets ugly.”
  • “All jelly, no jam.”
A website that’s no longer active listed six proposed team names: Texas Hot Sauce, California Wildfire, New York Dimes (dimes is slang for women), Indiana Milkshake (get it?), Florida Honeydrippers and Kentucky Cupcakes.

Bikini Basketball Entertainment

Bikini Basketball Entertainment is a female basketball sports entertainment company based in Canada. It produces basketball games, 3 on 3 basketball tournaments, promotion events and player event appearances.
BBE has been active since 2011 and streams bikini basketball “games” on its website.


Bikini Hockey League

The Bikini Hockey League began in April 2012.
But even with a website and an active Twitter feed, it’s hard to tell how active the league is beyond photo shoots and marketing. Its Facebook page hasn’t been updated since March 2013.
The league scheduled an exhibition game for Jan. 1, 2013, during the NHL lockout. But it doesn’t look like it happened. A Bleacher Report story said the game was tentative based on getting sponsorship agreements.
The league’s Twitter feed posted a photo from a “Bikini Hockey skate” in November 2013. But it didn’t provide any details.


Pole dancing

Pole dancing is a physical activity that some see as sport and others art.
The International Pole Sports Federation considers pole dancing a sport that should be scored like figure skating and gymnastics. It even wants pole sports in the Olympics. It hosts the annual World Pole Sports Championships in London. This year’s competition is scheduled for July 19 and 20.
Others like the U.S. Pole Dance Federation believe pole dancing is more like jazz or ballet.
On March 21, the first ever Pole World News Awards were held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. (See articles by the Huffington Post and the Crescenta Valley Weekly.)
Natasha Wang, pictured, was named best performance artist of the year in the female category.

The best women’s sports from my male perspective are the ones that show off not only great athleticism but the beauty of the female form. In that camp I’d put tennis, beach volleyball, surfing, CrossFit, pole sports and sport climbing.

Photos:
The LFL’s San Diego Seduction huddles at a game in September 2009. (Photo by Ian Clifton);
Steph Davey, a player with the LFL Australia’s Victoria Maidens (Photo by Chris Phutully);
Victoria Maiden player Steph Davey before a game against the Western Australia Angels (Photo by Chris Phutully);
SA Texas Cowgirls players Michele Chavez and Tanya Danache Gutierrez (Facebook photo);
Photo of several SA Texas Cowgirls (Facebook photo);
Houston Inferno player Kyra Carlile of the Bikini Basketball Association;
Illinois Heart player Tikey Hooper of the Bikini Basketball Association;
Lingerie Basketball League player Nicole Hamilton;
Lingerie Basketball League player Julie “The Booty” Ginther of the L.A. Glam;
Two promotional photos for Bikini Basketball Entertainment; 
Two promotional photos for the Bikini Hockey League; 
Champion pole dancer Natasha Wang.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Women’s pro billiards is pretty bad-ass

Watching someone command a pool table is an impressive skill. When that person happens to be an attractive woman, it’s a twofer for the male sports fan.
The Women’s Professional Billiards Association is full of super-talented ladies, many of whom are knockouts.
Earlier this month, ESPN Classic ran a 25-hour marathon celebrating the 25-year career of the gorgeous Jeanette Lee, aka the Black Widow. (See photo at top.)
I love how women’s pool players have cool nicknames. Another standout is fellow Hall of Famer Ewa Laurance, aka the Striking Viking.
Among the beautiful ranked players in the WPBA, there are Jasmin Ouschan of Austria; Emily Duddy of the U.S.; Jennifer Chen, aka “China Doll,” of Taiwan; Borana Andoni of Albania; Jennifer Barretta of the U.S.; and Xiaoting Pan of China.
Duddy, Andoni and Barretta are members of the Rack Starz promotional team.

Jasmin Ouschan 

Emily Duddy 

Jennifer Chen 

Borana Andoni 

Jennifer Barretta 

Xiaoting Pan 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Women’s professional sports get short shrift

Women’s professional sports often aren’t taken seriously.
While men’s pro sports like football, baseball and basketball have huge followings, women’s pro sports tend to struggle.
The most prominent women’s pro sports are tennis and golf. These are both sports that women in the general public play for exercise and leisure. That helps explain their appeal.
Others, like basketball, are a punch line.
The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) has struggled financially since its founding in 1997. It’s also been a target of comedians, such as satirical news website The Onion.
Minnesota Lynx World’s Richest WNBA Team With Value Of $4,” one Onion headline blared last year.
WNBA Champions Visit White House Fence,” another Onion article said.
To get male fans, women’s pro sports need more than great athletes. Men aren’t prone to watch sports created simply to provide a female version of a popular men’s sport. Title 9 might work to ensure funding for women’s high school and collegiate sports. But the free market decides what’s popular with the paying public.
The Summer Olympics have provided a boost to two women’s team sports by raising the profile of the athletes involved: soccer and softball. But professional leagues for both have had a rough time.
The National Women’s Soccer League is the top level pro women’s soccer league in the U.S. It began play in spring 2013 with eight teams, four of which used to be in the defunct Women’s Professional Soccer. The WPS ended in 2011 after three seasons. Before the WPS, there was the Women’s United Soccer Association. WUSA lasted three seasons, ending in 2003.
Now in its second season, the NWSL has nine teams nationwide.
The same story with women’s pro softball.
National Pro Fastpitch, formerly the Women’s Pro Softball League, is the only professional women’s softball league in the U.S. The WPSL was founded in 1997 and folded in 2001. The NPF revived the league in 2004 and currently features four teams.
Then there’s women’s tackle football. Not the sexed up Lingerie Football League, but serious smash-nose football.
The Women’s Professional Football League ran for nine seasons, from 1999 through 2007, but collapsed. There are now three 11-on-11 U.S. football leagues for women: the Women’s Football Alliance, the Independent Women’s Football League and the Women’s Spring Football League.
Here in the greater Washington, D.C., area we have the WFA team the D.C. Divas.
Judging from photos online, with all their padding and helmets on, I can’t tell if they’re men or women playing the game.

Photo: Divas linebacker Trigger McNair picks off a Columbus Comets pass and laterals to Eleni Kotsis, who dashes 43 yards for a touchdown in the Divas’ 40-12 playoff victory in June 2013. (Credit: D.C. Divas.) 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

CrossFit, parkour, competitive climbing – sports of the future

In the 1989 movie “Say Anything,” the character played by John Cusack pronounced that kickboxing was the “sport of the future.”
Kickboxing never took off, but it did contribute to the rise of mixed martial arts and the popularity of Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Many sports have come and gone over the years. If they didn’t, we’d still have Roman gladiator tournaments and play Mayan soccer with human heads.
More recently, sports like boxing and bowling used to be much more popular than they are now.
Times change and our favorite sports change too.
I’ve spotlighted a lot of interesting sports over the last week or so. But none of them I would be willing to bet is the “sport of the future.”
If I had to pick the next big sport, I’d say CrossFit, competitive climbing, or something parkour-related.

CrossFit Games

The CrossFit Games are billed as “the world’s premier test to find the Fittest on Earth.” The games put athletes through a grueling series of ever-changing, unpredictable workouts.
The competition picks the “world’s fittest” man and woman ever year.
Interest in the sport has been growing rapidly since its inception in 2007. Sportswear company Reebok signed a 10-year sponsorship deal with CrossFit in 2010, according to the Financial Times.
The 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games will be held July 25-27 at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
The men and women who participate in CrossFit are amazing physical specimens. See photos of CrossFit star Julie Foucher above. (See more photos of Foucher on Girls With Muscle.)

Parkour

Another sport known for its unpredictability and the overall fitness of its athletes is parkour or free running. The sport involves running, jumping and climbing over obstacles in an urban environment.
There have been big parkour events held in Europe, but none seem to have caught hold with the public and sponsors.
In the U.S., the closest thing to a major parkour competition is American Ninja Warrior, a sports entertainment contest that airs on NBC.
Now in its sixth season, “American Ninja Warrior” is pulling in solid ratings, Entertainment Weekly reports.

Sport climbing

Another sport with the potential to become a big deal is sport climbing.
The International Federation of Sport Climbing is the body that regulates, directs and promotes climbing competitions on a worldwide basis.
Sport climbing is recognized by the International Olympic Committee, but is not yet a medal sport in the Summer Games. It was considered for the 2020 games, but did not make the short list. Maybe next time.

Photos from IFSC media center.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Oddball sports that want to be taken seriously

Following up on my recent post about weird sports, I’ve compiled a list of 20 or so more fringe sports hoping to gain a bigger following.
I’ll start with sports that have some respectability because they’re in the Olympics and work my way down the really goofy ones.

USA Curling

The sport of curling has risen in popularity thanks to its inclusion in the Winter Olympics. It’s been an official sport of the Olympic Games since the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. Canada has dominated the sport at the Olympics.
The game involves players sliding heavy granite stones on a sheet of ice toward a circular target area. (See “Why Curling Is Legitimately Awesome” by BuzzFeed.)
The United States Curling Association, aka USA Curling, is the national governing body for the sport in the U.S. Curling’s recent popularity has swelled the USCA to more than 165 curling clubs and 16,500 curlers in the U.S.
It doesn’t hurt the sport that some of the female players are smoking hot. (See photo of Russian curler Anna Sidorova above.)

Related reading and viewing:

Anna Sidorova now wants to turn heads with her curling. (Yahoo News; Feb. 11, 2014)

5 hottest babes of Olympic curling (Rare; Feb. 10, 2014)

Hot Rocks gallery: Curling’s bodacious bodies sex up Sochi (Canada.com; Feb. 14, 2014)

National Badminton League

Founded in 2009, the National Badminton League currently has six teams: Indiana, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego and San Francisco.
The racquet sport of badminton has been an Olympic sport since 1992. It received bad press from a scandal at the 2012 Summer Games in London when eight female badminton players were disqualified for trying to lose matches. The players from China, South Korea and Indonesia were accused of playing to lose so they could face easier opponents in future matches, drawing boos from spectators, CNN reported. The eight players concerned had all already qualified for the quarterfinals of the tournament before the final matches of the group stage.

World DanceSport Federation

The World DanceSport Federation is the global governing body for competitive ballroom dancing. It was founded in 1957 under the name International Council of Amateur Dancers. It changed to the current name in 1990 to help it gain Olympic recognition.
Dancesport has been recognized as a sport by the International Olympic Committee, but has not been chosen as an official medal sport in the Olympic Games.
The national governing body for dancesport in the U.S. is USA Dance.

U.S. Table Soccer Federation

Foosball, or table soccer, is one of several leisure activities looking to be taken seriously as sports.
Founded in 2002, the United States Table Soccer Federation is affiliated with the International Table Soccer Federation.

Professional Darts Corporation

The bar sport of darts is a big deal in the Great Britain. The Professional Darts Corporation is a professional darts organization, established in the United Kingdom in 1992. It holds regular competitions including the annual PDC World Darts Championship.

International Flipper Pinball Association

The International Flipper Pinball Association was founded in 2006 to elevate awareness of competitive pinball. It created the World Pinball Player Rankings to establish the first official rankings system of pinball players throughout the world. Through tournaments and leagues, the IFPA crowns the World’s Greatest Pinball Player at the end of each calendar year.

National Horseshoe Pitchers Association

The National Horseshoe Pitchers Association is a federation of 60 charters in the U.S. and Canada. But like a lot of fringe sports, the NHPA is struggling financially.
The association made a plea for sponsors and investors in a May 29 post to its Facebook page. “After six successful seasons, we’ve got everything we need to turn this breakout sport into a national craze ... except the money,” the group wrote. “Maybe this is the next ‘NASCAR’ waiting to happen! We believe it is.”

American Cornhole Organization

If horseshoe pitching is too retro (dating back to the Roman Empire), there’s cornhole. Cornhole is a lawn game or tailgate party game in which players take turns throwing small bags of corn at a raised platform with a hole in the far end.
The American Cornhole Organization was founded in 2004 with the sole purpose of promoting the game of cornhole or corn toss.

Wall Ball International

Wallball is a game played on many school yards. Wall Ball International of Sydney, Australia, was founded to promote the hand ball game.

United States ProMiniGolf Association

Forget the PGA, there’s the PMGA or Pro Mini Golf Association. The U.S. ProMiniGolf Association (its preferred style) organizes tournaments and is a member of the World MiniGolf Sports Federation. These guys take putting through windmills and other obstacles seriously.
In 2000, the World MiniGolf Sports Federation became “a provisional member in the General Association of the International Sports Federation (GAISF) which is a big step towards becoming an Olympic Sport,” the U.S. group says on its website.

Photo by Flickr user Jeffrey.

International Segway Polo Association

Playing polo on a horse is so last century. The cool kids now are playing polo on Segway self-balancing scooters.
The International Segway Polo Association is the governing body for the players and teams of Segway polo around the world.

World Juggling Federation


The World Juggling Federation is the world’s only organization devoted to the promotion and advancement of juggling as a sport. It was founded in 2003.

World Yo-Yo Contest

The World Yo-Yo Contest is a contest of yo-yo competitors from around the world. It’s run by the International Yo-Yo Federation. The annual competition is being held this year in Prague.

World Sport Stacking Association

Sport stacking (also known as cup stacking or speed stacking) is a sport that involves stacking specialized plastic cups in specific sequences in as little time as possible. The World Sport Stacking Association is the governing body that sets the rules for competition.

USA Memory Championship

This next sport is really quite impressive.
The USA Memory Championship is an annual memory competition that takes place in New York City. It is set up as a sporting event for “mental athletes.” The tournament consists of memory challenging tournament-style competitive events including memorization of: 117 names and faces, a shuffled deck of cards, an unpublished poem, and speed numbers.

That’s just a few of the many fringe sports today. There also are competitions in snail racing, pillow fighting, mechanized pumpkin tossing, unicycle football, tiddlywinks, sheep shearing, walnut head-butting and snuff consumption. There isn’t enough space to list them all.
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