December 13, 2009

The world has gotten so caught up in the quagmire that is Tiger Woods’ transgressions that it seems to have lost plain sight of the more important matters at stake. Nothing like tabloid fodder to unleash some good old Schadenfreude amidst water-cooler conversations, come what may.

A crashed car, a wrecked fire hydrant, and an incensed wife later, more and more sordid allegations keep pouring out, each revelation serving as a catalyst for more women to come out of their closets in this explosive reaction. Or so they say, birds of the same kind flock together, and each precedent serves as motivation for the next revelation. Of course, the concomitant interest served by the mass media has a role to play in this as well.

And unsurprisingly, many people are crying afoul, feeling as cheated as his wife and his many mistresses of the blind faith they had placed in the Lothario. What of the ideal role model character that the world has gotten accustomed to? Was that a sheer, immaculately constructed façade to rake in the advertising dollars, to cash in upon his stature as the bona fide best golfer in the world?

Such naïveness. It amazes me how people are so quick to forget that celebrities are adept public relations practitioners of their own, and they yield full control over themselves and how they wish to present themselves to the media. It amazes me even more that people are so quick to seek attachment, and psychological cognizance towards people they do not even know. I am not saying it is entirely wrong to idolize, as long as it’s healthy. But when it comes to blind acceptance and idolization – it astonishes me how some matured adults remain prone to this death trap.

While it’s selfish in most cases to mind your own business given the greater good of the world, this is an instance where I feel that, perhaps, the line has been crossed in the insatiable pursuit for juicy information. Do you even personally know the guy at all? Why are judgments so quick to be passed? What if it was your friend or relative who was guilty of such transgressions? Will you be as nasty and unwilling to forgive?

But that is not to say that what Woods did was ‘correct’. Comme çi comme ça. The excuse some are trying to give, of Woods being just another human being and hence is as susceptible to such disgraceful behavior as another layman seems to be a rather pathetic attempt to resolve cognitive dissonance after the initial shocker.

I’m not sure what the ideals in a Western society are, and call me traditionalist if you like, but to cheat on one’s wife with one other woman is pretty incorrect in the first place. To cheat on one’s wife with 11 other women is a bottomless chasm of immorality, whether you are ‘just human’ or not.

After the public backlash ad nauseum against the debaucheries of  Eliot Spitzer, David Letterman, Edison Chen and even Bill Clinton, you’d expect people to realize that many celebrities are not as infallible as the media portray them to be. But nope, the reverberations just get bigger with every single scandal that erupts.

Yet what is the bigger picture? It is a problem which the Woods household have to resolve themselves, under the intense scrutiny of the media, and whether with a positive or negative conclusion. Armchair public opinion, to say the least, will only matter as much as the endorsement dollars and blind idolization.

Tourism in Sports

June 28, 2008

The world of sports is certainly a lucrative one, giving the recognition being placed on it, whether as a barometer of human progress, a showcase of indomitable human spirit, or simply, a chance to earn bragging rights on an international or regional platform.

This is further exemplified by how numerous countries have invested money into building up their burgeoning sports industries, amplified more so by the efforts and incentives of the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) in attracting foreign talent to Singapore, as well as the carrot being dangled in front of our sportsmen as motivation for them to perform.

The number of sporting events which capture global attention is countless, with the Summer Olympics, World Cup, Euro Championships and Commonwealth Games being some of the few large scale events with a lot of hoohaa attached.

The prestige of hosting a major sporting event has therefore grown leaps and bounds over the years, as a nation welcomes the best athletes from around the world for approximately a month of friendly competition. The benefits are boundless – a chance to build political ties and to gain recognition, as well as the promising tourism revenue which is bound to come along.

The onus lies with the host country to invest hefty sums of revenue to refurbish pre-existing infrastructure, as well as to construct new systems and to erect supportive tourism promotion campaigns so as to ensure the successful execution of the event.

Euro 2008 logoVia Euro 2008, Austria and Switzerland is bound to reap rewards from the European fans that are expected to descend on the countries during the championships, with an estimate of $358 million gained by the Swiss economy and $369 million gained by the Austrian economy. In Austria alone, overnight bookings have hit the 2-million mark during the campaign, which is well above the usual rates for the month of June, while almost 11,000 temporary jobs have been created to cope with the visitor influx.

However, while it may still be too early to tell, things do not look especially rosy for the upcoming Beijing Summer Olympics and Singapore’s Formula One Night Race.

Both events have been in the news lately in the run-up till the kick-off of the events.

The Beijing Games have been fraught with controversy surrounding the Chinese-Tibetan rule and the subsequent exile of the Daila Lama, and as a result, an unprecedented spotlight was shone on the global torch relay.

Formula One Grand Prix posterThe Singapore Formula One Night Race has been vigorously marketed as a world’s first-ever F1 night race.

Yet, recent reports have shown that the Formula One hotel booking is looking sluggish, while there is no sign of Olympic boom for Beijing hotels.

So, what ticks and what does not?

In the case of the Beijing Games, fingers are being pointed at wildly inflated prices within the country in view of the impending games despite a global economic slump, tighter visa regulations (ironically to keep out excessive visitors, a plan which has since proven to backfire), as well as possible anti-Chinese sentiments in the wake of the deadly Tibetan rioting. Tourism figures have dropped by 12.5% comparing May this year to a year ago.

As for Singapore, it is speculated that the sluggish outcome is a result of escalated hotel rates, especially for the hotels surrounding the race track, so much so that hotels have started pushing down their prices. But seriously, could there be an over-estimation for the demand? Ardent F1 fans would have snapped up grandstand tickets when ticketing sales first open. And, who would want to watch miniature-sized cars zoom by at a fraction of a second from, say, the thirtieth floor? Where is the kick in that?

The sciences behind generating revenue during a major sporting event may not be that simple, but the works are easy – for money to be earned, people have to come, and apart from placing too much focus and reliance on the sports itself, perhaps there is also a need to sell the country per se as well.


Singapore Youth Olympic Games Bid

 “The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has the honour of announcing that the first Summer Youth Olympic Games in 2010 are awarded to the city of Singapore,” announced Mr Jacques Rogge, president of the IOC, a few minutes past 7pm on Thursday. The announcement practically sent the entire nation into euphoria and disbelief as it marks a new dawn for Singapore sport as the nation beat Moscow 53-44 in the tight race to host the games.

This is not the end, but the beginning towards gearing the nation up strongly towards the organisation of a memorable inaugural Youth Games. This includes the construction and refurnishing of several complexes and arenas, so as to provide state-of-the-art facilities and five-star accommodation for the thousands of participants arriving in Singapore for the Games in 2010. And of course, gearing our young blood into preparation overdrive as the country targets some medals to put itself on the Olympic world map (for the first time since Tan Howe Liang took home a silver medal for bodybuilding in 1960, should the nation fail in its bid to win medals this year).

It is indeed heartening to see many of the locals (or at least, those who have been interviewed by the newspapers) stepping up and be willing to volunteer themselves to the cause when the Games fall on Singapore in 2010. Hopefully the excitement will not die down as the nation needs to maintain this momentum on its journey to hold a successful Games.


While the entire nation is basking in glory over this unprecedented achievement in the sporting arena, I believe many would expect the above news to be splashed on the front pages of all local newspapers around the island on Friday.

But no, mypaper bucked this trend by featuring Edison Chen on the front page of the free tabloid. Which makes me wonder how the paper prioritises the issues – does the editor seriously feel that front-page Edison Chen news will garner more readership than the winning of the bid to host the Youth Olympic Games? (If that is the reason, I find it quite stupid as the paper is a free tabloid after all. I will find it surprising if the papers do not  get distributed till they run out everyday) Or is it more of a matter of attention-grabbing?

My personal disapproval towards that isolated incident aside, my impression of the tabloid has dipped tremendously since its rather impressive beginning when the English and Mandarin segments of the paper were merged to form a bilingual paper. While the paper prides itself for being a good avenue for readers to learn English or Mandarin, through their vocabulary segments, with the numerous atrocious grammar errors (and a few typos here and there) throughout the paper, the readers stand to lose out in their grammar in the midst of benefiting from their vocabulary. Interesting trade-off, isn’t it?

Aside from that, the article “Motorists complacent, so rise in Cashcard thefts” on Monday (Page A4) is preposterously written. Reading the article, you’d think that the article is entirely about CashCard thefts right? Apparently not, as the focus of the story meanders towards the amount of money most motorists deposit into their CashCards today, given the increasing spate of thefts, and for non-motorists, the amount of money communites deposit into their EZ-Link cards.

And, with the spate of the Edison Chen debacle going downhill, you wouldn’t rely on precisely this tabloid to stir things up again with a front-page cover of the issue. New (and somewhat surprising) revelations this time arose from local blogger Dawn Yang, who suddenly came front with her encounters with Edison and how he had tried to lure her into some kinky business when they were introduced in the past by mutual friends. Wow, what good timing of matters isn’t it.

Edison Chen

 “Speaking of timing, Edison has been accosted for returning to Hong Kong and addressing the media in the shadows of credited household performer Lydia Sum’s unfortunate demise after her battle with organ failure and other illnesses. (Apparently the Hong Kong tabloids are not that focused on Edison, after all – at least they’re willing to shift their attention to more pressing matters) Though I feel that either way, he gets the short end of the schtick – he comes back early, he gets blasted. He comes back late to let the tide cool off, he meets with the unfortunate passing of Lydia Sum, and he gets blasted.

Which brings the act to the climactic showdown – the press conference. Edison announced that he will be “leaving Hong Kong showbusiness indefinitely”. And there are speculations abounding regarding the usage of those words, which seriously, sound forcefully planned. Many feel that it is all a clever ploy on the part of his ego to evoke some sympathy against his plight and to emerge the unfortunate victim. (After all, Gilian, Cecilia and Bobo have already taken most of the rap for him while he went into hiding; it’s just the way the society currently functions lah. When females consent to sex, they’re at fault. When they consent to being photographed having sex, they’re at fault for their naivety. Little wonder that in an online survey of more than 5000 voters, 62% of the pollers have forgiven the actor but bad blood still run against the female stars)

Leaving “Hong Kong showbusiness” indefinitely just means that he’ll be able to expand his pastures into the wider market of Hollywood, where he has made forays into Tinseltown in The Grudge 2 in 2006, as well as a villain in a supporting cameo in the upcoming The Dark Knight. He allegedly found time to go for auditions, and to clinch a role, in another upcoming Christopher Nolan movie while in hiding. Doesn’t sound as if his career is suffering to me.

What’s my entire take on this? Just let the entire thing blow over and let the stars get on with their lives already! While this has taken the entertainment scene by storm, but that’s just it, entertainment.

GPL – Global Premier League

February 11, 2008

Hooray for English Premier League soccer fans worldwide!

Apparently, news has it that the Premier League is toying with the possibility of playing one more round of matches on foreign soil, as they come up with a radical proposal to extend the season to 39 games from the 2010-2011 season, up from the current 38 games.

TNP Columnist Iain Macintosh sums it up well enough about the fallacies in this plan.

1. Money No Enough for the EPL, even with it already being the most profitable league, with fans all around the world who will not hesitate paying money on all sorts of paraphernalia ranging from jerseys to endorsed sports equipment.

2. As if the world around will care so much as to watch a boring ol’ match between, say, Birmingham and Derby County.

3. The entire issue of fairness. While the international round will not be the first or the last match of the entire season, being slated to be played in January in five cities worldwide, the extra round simply takes away the fairness of the current league system of having two rounds of matches per team, one home and one away, such that each team plays each other once. This is not a cup tie for goodness sake, and having that single solitary match is bound to have far-fetched implications. Everybody knows about the ridiculous amount of money involved in the EPL, with all sorts of rights ranging from live telecasts, exorbitant season ticket prices etc, and the huge implications one club will face at being relegated from this entire money tree. Let’s have 2 clubs A and B, both engaged in the relegation dogfight going into the last game of the season. The case is that Club A may not even be in that predicament in the first place had it drawn a weaker team during the international round, instead of lady luck dealing a cruel hand as it plays Manchester United or Arsenal or something. How about two teams locked at the top of the table for the championship title, one having a trickier international round tie than the other? What does this show? It’s not as if the matches are being played as friendlies or something – it will certainly make more sense to haul all these teams halfway across the world to play matches which will not have any bearing on the league standings – people will still be interested in these matches of course, as it’s after all the EPL, and the amount of money involved will still be phenomenal.

All these implications certainly make the plan less attractive, doesn’t it. Let us do the Math. An entry ticket for an EPL match sums up to approximately 100 pounds a match. Doing the conversion rates to SGD, that will sum it up to an approximation of S$275 a match. Factoring in all the other costs such as first-class air tickets for the management team and the footballers, the bodyguard crew (they’re so not about to be mobbed by gaga fans), five-star hotel accommodation and publicity, and you get an idea of how much the cost price per ticket can get inflated up to.

Not that the EPL will actually come to Singapore in the first place, of course, but this is just a case in point kind of thing. What, you think those people who came up with this idea will actually find it profitable enough to hold matches here, considering the miniature stadiums we have (the largest should be the 6,000-seater Jalan Besar Stadium, since the National Stadium will be demolished by then… Don’t think it will be rebuilt yet by then?), and that Singapore players are not allowed in their league at all in the first place as the nation is not within the Top 60 of the world ranking? Those friendly matches once organised between, say, Manchester United and the Singapore team was handled by the clubs themselves in their free time between seasons. I guess, they will be concentrating on, say, the Chinese, Japanese or Korean markets for Asia, considering that there’re players from those nations playing in the EPL.

I apologise if I sound demoralising here, and for all the buckets of reality I have splashed through this viewpoint. However, do not get muddle-headed over the prospects of EPL happening in Singapore, and the prospects of the Singapore Sports Scene, so don’t get me wrong — I am all for Singapore holding the inaugural Youth Olympics come 2010, and I urge all fellow Singaporeans to show your support towards this bid (On another note I just cannot stand how cocky Moscow is)!

*Written by aR