Good to Be Goofy White Guy

Friday, Aug 19, 2016 11:33 AM EST
The ballad of “Swim Shady”: Ryan Lochte’s Rio fiasco is more proof that male athletes are a protected class
The Olympic swimmer’s fake-robbery debacle is being brushed off, while gymnast Gabby Douglas is the target of abuse
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Topics: 2016 Summer Olympics, Gabby Douglas, male entitlement, Rio Olympics, Ryan Lochte, Life News
The ballad of “Swim Shady”: Ryan Lochte’s Rio fiasco is more proof that male athletes are a protected class
Ryan Lochte (Credit: AP/Martin Meissner)

It must be a heady thing to have all the privileges of a male athlete. You can pretty much do anything before you’re held even remotely accountable — and then when you do have to face any consequences, you’ll get a nice chorus of despair about your lost opportunities. In what other realm could the misdeeds of a 32-year-old man be gently passed off as the antics of “kids?”

Oh, to be you, Ryan Lochte.

Early this week, reports emerged that the blue-haired Olympic medalist — along with three other members of the U.S. swim team — had been “robbed at gunpoint” early Sunday morning. USOC spokesperson Patrick Sandusky issued a statement saying that while heading toward the Olympic village, “their taxi was stopped by individuals posing as armed police officers who demanded the athletes’ money and other personal belongings. All four athletes are safe and cooperating with authorities.”

Lochte himself gave an eminently Lochte-ish account of the event, telling NBC, “They pulled out their guns, they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground — they got down on the ground. I refused, I was like we didn’t do anything wrong, so — I’m not getting down on the ground. And then the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said, “Get down,” and I put my hands up, I was like ‘whatever.’ He took our money, he took my wallet — he left my cell phone, he left my credentials.”

And the the tale began to change. On Thursday, Brazilian police said that “It seems that they lied. No robbery was committed against these athletes. They were not victims of the crimes they claimed.” Instead, it appeared the swimmers had vandalized a gas station — USA Today reports “one of them broke down the bathroom door and police found damage to a soap dispenser and a mirror” — leading to a confrontation with armed security guards and a payoff, possibly to cover the damages. The AP reports that “police said the swimmers were unable to provide key details in early interviews, saying they had been intoxicated.”

The response to these hijinks has been generous, to say the least. Rio 2016 spokesman Mario Andrada shrugged Thursday, “Let’s give these kids a break. Sometimes you take actions that you later regret. They are magnificent athletes. Lochte is one of the best swimmers of all times. They had fun. They made a mistake. It’s part of life. Life goes on. Let’s go.”
Video: Rio 2016: Swimmer Ryan Lochte’s Crime Story Unravels

I guess if you’re “one of the best swimmers of all times,” you can do whatever the heck you want! P.S. This “kid” is 32.

NBC, Olympics and Gays

NBC Sports Has A Gay Problem

What the what?

08/10/2016 02:09 pm ET

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

This article by Cyd Zeigler originally appeared on Outsports.

It’s been apparent for years.

When Australian diver Matthew Mitcham won gold in the 10-meter platform in Beijing, stopping a Chinese sweep of diving gold on the final dive of the sport’s final event, NBC Sports, the perennial broadcaster in the United States of the Olympic Games, failed to mention Mitcham’s partner in the stands despite highlighting the partners of other straight athletes. Even worse, the network failed to mention that Mitcham was the only publicly out gay-male athlete at the Games.

When called on it, NBC first argued that the network doesn’t discuss sexual orientation (despite the historic nature of Mitcham’s win) then offered a terse two-sentence “apology.

Eight years later, nothing has changed at NBC. The network failed to identify Dustin Lance Black in the audience of the men’s synchro diving finals as bronze-medalist Tom Daley’s fiancé. Not boyfriend, not long-time friend… fiancé. And an Oscar-winning fiancé at that (read: public interest). They are, arguably, the “it” couple of the gay community, yet NBC didn’t mention a word.

When NBC broadcast the match of Brazilian volleyball player Larissa França, they followed her to the stands where she embraced her wife. NBC commentator Chris Marlowe’s colorful commentary?

“That is her husband. She married Lili in 2013 and Larissa is celebrating with her pals.”

Her husband. You can’t write this shit. Yet NBC released no public apology, relying on a one-line statement from Marlowe.

At the U.S. Olympic diving trials, diver Jordan Windle was accompanied by his two dads.

“They wouldn’t say ‘Jordan’s dads’ during the finals of Olympic Trials,” Jerry Windle said. “They just said ‘parents.’ Then they wouldn’t show both Andre and I together like they showed other parents.”

Two years ago in Sochi, all of the NBC networks combined offered less than two hours of coverage of LGBT issues, including the new anti-gay law that had been implemented in Russia, during the 18 days of the Winter Olympics. There were mentions of the plight of Russian LGBT people during primetime coverage by NBC Sports, but according to HRC it diminished over time and was mostly pushed away from NBC Sports and onto MSNBC. According to HRC, during two of the Winter Olympic days ― 14 and 17 ― there was no coverage of the issue on any of NBC’s networks.

To be clear, this all goes well beyond the Olympics.

For the last few years NBC Sports has employed an avowed proud homophobe, Tony Dungy, as one of its lead NFL commentators. Dungy has raised money to oppose equality for gay people, has said he “disagrees” with Jason Collins being gay and, in a fit of hypocrisy, said he would not want openly gay NFL player Michael Sam on his team.

Of course the network also employs openly gay commentator Johnny Weir. It’s the one possible on-air feather in the network’s cap. Though Weir’s dress and manner leave some reducing him to the role of clown, it’s a role he welcomes and plays well while also offering some great figure skating commentary. His antics (while I appreciate them) leave many gay people wishing for less.

Still, it’s impossible to make the case that NBC Sports is sensitive to LGBT issues. While NBC has started NBC Out and has a robust NBC-Universal LGBT employee network, that is desperately lost on the coverage NBC provides sports.

While Dungy’s continued employment on NBC Sports’ cornerstone program is a slap in the face of the entire LGBT community, the subpar job the network has demonstrated covering LGBT athletes and issues at the Olympics over the years is downright inexcusable.

There are plenty of opportunities for NBC to recover. Ten days of LGBTI athletes competing and winning lie ahead. Will the network acknowledge their presence? Simply demonstrate the common courtesy to these athletes they show their straight counterparts?

Frankly, I doubt it. Their failure to properly address the Mitcham snub eight years ago, followed by transgression after transgression, shows very clearly that NBC Sports couldn’t care less about gay athletes or gay fans. Maybe ESPN can get in the running to broadcast future Olympics.

For more from OutSports, check out these stories:

Seattle Mariners tell lesbian couple to stop ‘being affectionate’

The first Olympic marriage proposal in Rio is between a rugby player and her girlfriend

Male Olympic gymnasts want to compete shirtless

Also on HuffPost

29 Truly Remarkable Olympic Photos

Best Part of the Debates

After the debate itself, the most intriguing thing is not to see what the pundits think about the Political Campaign Televised debate, but to read what commentators think about the pundits take on the debates. Most of the 26 commentators to the New York Times insisted that the pundits in their view of Hillary Clinton winning last night’s debate got it wrong.

The cynical and exhausted viewpoint is below but it was in the minority:

NYChap

Chappaqua 12 minutes ago

Does it matter? Hillary Clinton was slated to be the Democrats choice in 2016 ever since she screwed up in 2008 and lost to Obama. Hillary will be the Democrats presidency nominee come “Hell or High Water” regardless of what happens as a result of the FBI investigation. I think that is very obvious to all who have been paying attention over the years. The GOP is giving her the election and she is going to sit back and enjoy the ride. What a shame we can’t get our best people into politics. However, I understand why we can’t. Who would want to get into this circus as the main event and get ripped to shreds in public by a bunch of cut throat people who lie for a living.

Most people not only argued that Sanders performed better they expressed how acutely aware they are of the media’s pro-Clinton bias:

Gibson

new york 12 minutes ago

While it was not a runaway success for Bernie, anyone saying that Hillary had the edge must have been watching a different debate. In the first 10 minutes, she struggled to answer a question about holding government officials responsible for Flint, while Bernie was direct in his promise to trim away anyone responsible. Later, she resisted questions about her actions and opinions during Bill’s term, suggesting that words and actions from 20 years ago hold no bearing on the future, that it is foolish to look to the past when looking to the future. And she dodged the (admittedly difficult) question about race and refused to release Wall Street transcripts “unless everybody does,” which is a ridiculous argument. Given how on-point Mr. Cooper and Mr. Lemon were as moderators, I’m surprised they did not push her on this response.

Yes, Bernie was a little angrier than usual, and I agree he came off as disrespectful to Hillary by raising his voice when she tried cutting him off. More annoying still was his tendency to trail off from questions to his more regular stump speech lines about health care and tuition (though this only happened 2 or 3 times). All in all though, my takeaway was that Hillary’s answers were vague and full of platitudes, at worse deflective. I can’t think of an instance where she unequivocally promised any one thing to the audience, even when they asked her too (like the Flint mother demanding action in the first 100 days).

Stop spinning, NYT.

Leon

Earth 15 minutes ago

There seems to be a big disconnect between the pundits in the media and the general public. If you read the NYT or listen to CNN, Hillary “was given the edge” in the debate.
However in a TIME poll taken right after the debate that is still open of more that 58,000 viewers 87 % of them saw Sanders as the winner and only 13 % thought that Mrs. Clinton had performed better.
I find this very interesting.

Panthiest

Texas 15 minutes ago

When Hillary said she’d release her speech to Wall Street “when other people release theirs,” it made me sad to think that she might be the person I will end up voting for in November. While I trust her to support civil and equal rights, she has become entrenched with the 1%.

E. Rodriguez

New York, NY 15 minutes ago

So we’re going to leave out how Hillary was booed when she responded that she was going to keep her speech transcripts secret, that she was absolutely flustered on how to respond when it came to her support of TPP, NAFTA, and other disastrous trade bills. Her lack of enthusiasm for clean energy and acceptance of the woefully inadequate ACA.

These were all things that held her back in the debate, and it’s funny how the pundits conveniently leave out all of Hillary’s mistake but seem to think Sanders had a worse performance.

  • Dave is a trusted commenter Cleveland 17 minutes ago
    “Hillary Clinton Is Given the Edge”

    Passive voice, right in the headline, to dodge responsibility for what is clearly the newsroom’s opinion. Choose a different list of commentators and pundits that you decide matter, or look at the Twitter numbers and online polls, and you could have just as easily written the story “Bernie Sanders Is Given the Edge”.

    And, as some other commenters have pointed out, trying to announce who “won” a political debate is just plain silly when nobody actually knows what the voters thought, and that’s the only opinion that actually matters. But apparently this exercise matters more than what caucusgoers in Maine did, based on the placement and size of the stories.

     

    Carolyn Saint Augustine, Florida 17 minutes ago
    Well, obviously, if it’s the New York Times, it’s going to cherry pick in favor of Clinton, although this piece is milder in its favor. But then, if we had all listened to the media and the pundits instead of our hearts and minds, Bernie Sanders wouldn’t be such a serious contender for the presidency. So, we’ll just keep plugging along despite the lopsided reporting, and support Sanders with our small donations all from average Americans, and enjoy the enormous progress we have made – and continue to make – toward a true democracy and a better nation.

    Reply 16Recommend
    moviebuff Los Angeles 17 minutes ago
    Sanders was more compelling and convincing on the environment, foreign policy, taxes, banking regulation, infrastructure, education, health care, campaign finance reform, fracking, the Flint water crisis and destructive trade agreements. So yeah, of course the Times would say Hillary had the edge.

    Reply 20Recommend
    david root edgartown, ma 18 minutes ago
    Mr. Priebus, Did you watch the Republican debate? I would rather jump off a
    cliff than support one of those candidates. Regards.

    Reply 18Recommend
    Lilburne East Coast 44 minutes ago
    I love Bernie Sanders but he needs to stop waving his finger in the air the whole time Hillary Clinton is responding to a question.

    It seems rude and it is rude.

    Reply 45Recommend
    Rainflowers Nashville 15 minutes ago
    And Hillary, bless her heart, needs to stop shouting and smirking.

    Reply 5Recommend

    ArtUSA New York 15 minutes ago
    I agree 100%. He’s done this in every debate and it’s distracting and intrusive.

    Reply 2Recommend
    SEE ALL REPLIES
    Boonskis Grand Rapids, MI 44 minutes ago
    The stories on “who won the debate” are extremely disingenuous and treat readers as though all they are interested is in performance and not issues. I strongly support Sanders on the issues (climate change, race relationships) and to me the facts speak for themselves. How all the papers are getting that Clinton “did better”, when her answers on these issues are simply “status quo” instead of moving forward, is – to my mind – simply one more reflection of how the media are a little too tight with big business and the status quo. Be honest and give voters the credit they are due: the person who won is the one who is closest to your views on the issues.

    Reply 75Recommend

    serban is a trusted commenter Miller Place 3 minutes ago
    Hillary represents the status quo just as much as Obama represents the status quo. Both are realists that understand that the US is not fertile ground for radical change, there are too many conflicting interests and it is not possible to impose a vision if large segments of the population are opposed to it. Incremental change is possible, radical change without breaking the threads that keep the country together is not. Cruz is the most dangerous candidate because his vision will tear the country apart. Trump is dangerous because he has no clue on how to govern, his only goal is to have his name flashed across the sky. Sanders vision is more appealing as it is at least one that promises a just society, however, it is one that cannot be fulfilled without a mass movement behind it. That movement simply does not exist at this time, enthusiastic young people and progressive democrats are not sufficient. No question that there are people in the US that are hurting and pessimistic about their future, but they are not flocking to him, rather they are going for Trump who is offering scapegoats to blame for their situation. Until those disaffected Americans are brought behind a candidate like Sanders his vision will remain a distant mirage.

    Reply Recommend
    Fred Jones Toronto, Canada 44 minutes ago
    Is it really surprising that folks, who are members of the corrupt elite against whom Bernie crusades, would prefer Hillary, who is one of them after all.

    As a non-member of the US kleptocracy I thought Bernie cleaned the floor with her.

    Reply 73Recommend
    gregory Dutchess County 44 minutes ago
    Hearing the Democratic candidates talk about programs and history and funding and race and so forth was a big change from hearing the Republican candidates call each other names and spout ideological slogans and never mention concrete examples of the problems people face of how they would address them. Building “the wall” and putting our tax returns on a 3×5 card don’t qualify as serious ideas in my book.

    Reply 41Recommend
    Susan Tillinghast Portland Or 45 minutes ago
    These debates have become meaningless. They are about as relevant as waiting to see which candidate wins at tactic toe. Hillary is a master at these things. She is not a master at cleaning up American politics.

    Reply 21Recommend
    linda5 New England 17 minutes ago
    Sanders supporters insisted that Sanders needed more debates so he could show he is , get his name out, etc.
    Now they want no more debates because Sanders comes across as your testy, out-of-touch uncle

    Reply 4Recommend

     

     

Portugal: Cathedrals and Monestaries

Before most of us go on a vacation, we have thought a lot about the place where we are going. I’ve wanted to go to Portugal for decades, believing that I would love the climate and the people. I knew the country had a long history of Catholicism so expected to see many old cathedrals and monasteries.

We started in Lisbon and spent our time walking around the neighborhoods rather than visit any of the cathedrals. The next day we went to Belem, near Lisbon that became a major agricultural city during the 1400s under King Alfonso III.  What Henry the Navigator started as a church dedicated to Saint Mary eventually became an amazing cathedral and a monastery for the  Jerónimos Monastery and is now a UNESCO Heritage site.

The entrance to the cathedral is in the Manueline style, after King Manuel who built the building.

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The rose windows and other touches are beautiful but I really enjoyed the vault and the pillars because of their ornate style and the intricacy of the beams on the ceiling.

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The monastery used the same style and material and had a gorgeous court yard.

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A few days later we began our drive up north toward Porto. On the second day we stopped in the town of Alcobaca. We ate and walked around the town a bit before starting thinking that we would be inside for quite a long time. Dating back to the 1100s, and the victory of the first Portuguese King over the Moors, this church and monastery turned out to be the first Gothic-style buildings in the country.

The huge plaza and entry appeared sparse.

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The royal tombs and the sacristy were pleasant to view and included amazing detail,

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but I really enjoyed the stripped down nave and aisle. I learned that such design was the intention of the order of the church (devoid of decoration, as required in Cistercian churches)

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While much of the church remained over the 800 years, the monastery experienced many changes. The enclosed yard reflected a beautiful hedge garden.

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Some walls had the mosaic tile with images telling a particular Christian story.

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We continued traveling that afternoon and reached another small town called Batalha. The name translates to battle in Portuguese and is named after Battle of Aljubarrota (August 14, 1385), where the Portuguese held off a larger Spanish army.

We ate and spent the evening walking around some of the parks in the city. Next morning we got up and went to the monestary built to celebrate the victory. The large plaza in front led to this few of the original cathedral.

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Inside were impressive stained glass windows not quite up to Parisian standards but…

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I found the cathedral nave beautiful.

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This UNESCO Heritage site is well known for the ceiling of the chapterhouse: “This star vault lacks a central support while spanning a space of 19 square meters. This was such a daring concept at the time that condemned prisoners were used to perform the task. It was completed after two failed attempts. When the last scaffolds were removed, it is said that Huguet spent the night under the vault in order to silence his critics.”

100_4084The court yard also featured fabulous hedging.

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In 1437 by King Edward of Portugal (“Dom Duarte”, d.1438) commissioned a new chapel as a second royal mausoleum for himself and his descendants. It has not been completed.

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With different architects contributing to its constructions for nearly a century the building has elements of Manueline, Gothic, and Renaissance loggia. It is massive and filled with ornate carvings that somehow withstood the elements of nature.

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Portugal Trip: Animals

I enjoy all kinds of animals. Their charm and joyful personalities make them wonders to be around. On our trip to Portugal we saw many fun, wonderous creatures.

Inside the monestary and cathedral at Batalha,  the Royal Cloister, with its embellishments in the Manueline style and the square Chapter House with a huge Gothic vault that is remarkable for having no central supports get most of the attention. One no longer used basin for water collection contains an array of Koi.

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We had seen the wild chickens on our visit to Kauai many years ago but did not expect them in Sintra, 40 miles outside of Lisbon, the most populous city in the nation.

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Not everyone is a student in the university town of Coimbra. While one long-legged dog lounged during the day, later that evening three joined their human companion at an outdoor cafe.animal_3

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These dogs weren’t the only ones engaged in playful fun. A nice couple who ran a beautiful bed and breakfast outside of Obidos had a pair of cats that enjoyed a tossle while we talked around the dining room table.

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Inside the walled city of Obidos, the sun beat down on all of us tourists walking in and out of shops. Several cats seemed to take the best approach.

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Outside of Porto, the country’s second largest city, we found a beautiful new church that displayed nice architecture.

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We were surprised to find a farm next door.

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Near the city of Evora we stayed in a bed and breakfast run on a farm. The first sight we encountered were two burros.

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The gate to the farm was locked, so I did the next best thing and climbed over to search for the owners. Two fellows came to greet me. Lucky for me the Irish Wolfhounds remained calm.

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At a beautiful bed and breakfast near Lagos, this French bulldog found the fish endlessly fascinating.

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We encountered much more active dogs when we talked with their human companions. Vegan never wanted to stop chasing the tennis ball. I convinced others sitting around the outdoor cafe to join in the game.

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On the beach at Faro, this dog liked nothing more than digging holes and burying important rocks to find later in the day. He amused himself and all of us who watched.

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Portugal’s Castles and Palaces

On our recent trip to Portugal we encountered several castles. One of the first area’s we visited in Lisbon was the old city of Alfama. The neighborhood dates back to the Medieval times and includes Moorish influences. Its winding streets proved nothing like the uphill trudge to Castelo, where the castle of St. George held forth on top of the hill. The views of the city and this uphill walk explained why this represented an ideal location for a fortification.

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Amazingly, this fort served the Romans, the Visigoths who displaced them. The Arabs who took over the Iberian Peninsula, and finally the Christians. It served as the Royal Palace for the Portuguese during the late 1300s.

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Another castle of the Arab and early Portuguese eras, served the walled city of Obidos. The best thing about the city involved being able to walk the old wall from the entry gate to the castle.

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The sun baked the area in heat and you could feel sweat as we made our way. We reached the end where the castle stood. This palace lacked the charm of St. George’s but at least one  took solace in the presence of instruments of torture around the other side.

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In the medieval city of Coimbra, the palace received a unique role, it became a university, and the University of Coimbra is well-respected one at that. Here’s the view the balcony of the palace offered:

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The palace served as a location of class rooms, the former quarters of servants provided more classrooms and dorms. For those of us who earned doctorate degrees, defending in a room such as this with the university’s deans looking down upon you, daunting.

 

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A second view from the outside balcony revealed the layout.

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The notable library, known as Biblioteca Joanina, on the far right-hand side of the photo can be seen in these photos taken on the sly.

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Some of us who consider ourselves rebellious and rule breakers might have taken a different route at this university. The library’s basement served as an academic prison for students who broke the rules. The student stayed in the stark concrete areas talking with no one and a guard escorted him to classes using the back stairs.

By far the most picturesque location for castles and palaces is Sintra. In the hills, an hour outside of Lisbon, Sintra attracted attention 200 years ago when the Romantics wrote wistfully about its charms. This UNESCOWorld Heritage Site, became the center of European nineteenth century Romantic architecture. But the castle served as a Arabic remnant that the Christians isolated during the ninth century. This photo illustrates the remnants that remain of the castle.

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This view came from the top of the Royal Palace built under the reign of Queen Maria of Portugal (1834-1853) who left many of the details of the Palace de Pena to her husband, King-Consort Ferdinand. Taking over the remains of  the 16th century monastery of the Order of Saint Jerome, the royal pair hired an architect Baron von Eschwege to design the place. However, the palace had too many Germanic elements in its initial stages and five years later, the architect and Ferdinand shaped the palace more toward the history of their country and the royal pair’s taste.

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It did seem to have a theme park look but the feel definitely became real as one entered inside through the archway. The tile felt very Portuguese and the Manueline, Romantic, Moorish and other styles worked together.

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All servants and the royals walked around the palace using the cloisters which contained a great deal of elaborate design elements. This tile is different from the outside and there are several creatures whose mouths provide water drainage and visages scare away evil spirits.

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Inside the three generations of kings and queens who used the palace had many rooms, including separate bedrooms, baths and offices. 100_3851

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What’s a palace without great grounds. hidden amidst the acres of land were a chalet, three duck ponds, a small lake and a gazebo.

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Marvelous trees lined the paths.

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After stopping for lunch we headed to a palace from the late 1800’s built on land recently sold in 1892 to Carvalho Monteiro, who inherited family money made from precious stones and coffee from Brazil. A lawyer trained at the University of Coimbra, Monteiro and his architect Luigi Manini, build Quinta da Regaleira, to display symbols that reflected his interests and ideologies.

We went through the palace and chapel at hare speed.

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We looked forward to taking on the amazing grounds. These neatly sculpted winding paths gave way to a forest toward the eastern end of the park.

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The grounds included tunnels, initiation wells and lakes, fountains and even an aquarium.

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One well carried the reputation of representing Dante’s circles of Hell. As you walked around and around, ever descending into the darkness one was left to wonder.

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Novak Djokovic’s Special On and Off The Court

Novak Djokovic has clearly shown himself to be one of the best men’s tennis players in history. Yesterday’s ninth Grand Slam title moved him into fifth place among title winners in the Open Era and

I find Djokovic attractive physically and as a person. He has demonstrated a great sense of humor and I enjoy that he respects tradition and people and likes to enjoy himself as this video at the Wimbledon party demonstrates:

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/video/2015/jul/13/serena-williams-novak-djokovic-dance-wimbledon-video

They have danced before: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnen1RzgzFc&feature=player_detailpage

Is So You Think you Can Dance too far off in Novak’s future?

Olympics and Municipal Investment: US Style

Over the past two months, the momentum of the opposition to Boston hosting the Olympic Games spurred me while the narratives coming out about Rio sparked Matt Holder to write pieces about the Olympics for this blog. Matt summarized his article on media narratives with the statement: “…we see that media narratives care less about public good and more about creating an environment that efficiently routes public money into private pockets.” He cited Jules Boykoff’s book, Celebration Capitalism and the Olympic gamesas a notable explanation of how the Olympics are publically sold while the real beneficiaries are the hosting region’s elite.

Indeed, in their book Olympic Dreams: The Impact of Mega-Events on Local Politics, authors authors Matthew J. Burbank, Gregory D. Andranovich and Charles H. Heying discussed the Olympics as a growth strategy for U.S. cities. They analyzed how three US cities fared in their attempt to use the Olympics as an approach to economic growth in the post globalization United States. The authors argued that with less federal dollars available for urban renewal and a reduced tax base due to the global economy, regions have looked to the Olympics and mega events as ways to bring in revenue. Most importantly, the Games have enabled local elites to push forward changes to the city’s landscape that they would not have been able to do without the cover of hosting the Games.

The book discussed how the Clinton Administration funneled nearly a billion dollars of funds to Atlanta to help the city in its efforts to build infrastructure for the Games. With their bid for the Games, Atlanta’s officials proposed the conversion of 5700 units of public housing in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods to nicer living conditions for those residents.The city received $250 million from the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for this conversion and a similar amount in private funds. Less than 10% went toward the project which led to the displacement of 16000 low-income residents, which one has to wonder of that wasn’t the goal.

Others have noted similar agendas when other cities have bid. I noted in my book, Capital Sporting Grounds that in the 2012 Baltimore-Washington-Northern Virginia Olympics bid. The plans for Great Meadows to be the equestrian site would circumvent the opposition to the development of that area. Others opposed to hosting the games noted that there were several other stadium locations that pushed a development program that local citizens did not want and had stopped from happening earlier.

During a session at the 2015 Popular Culture Conference I attended a panel in the Sports section where a discussion over the plans for Chicago’s bid arose. Everyone in the room seemed to know that the bid’s plans would eliminate some significant public spaces, including parks. Clearly there is an awareness about the agendas of elites to bind unpopular development changes to the Games and of the limited value of the Games to a municipality’s revenue stream in the long run. Perhaps this is what has energized the No Boston Olympics movement. In their Olympics Truth section they argue that the Games do not help local economies. In their Olympic Myths section, they make this point again, and include arguments that two of the proposed promises (improved subway system and the Olympic Village representing a great housing gain for the city) will not materialize.

I call on fellow sports historians, particularly those who study the Olympics, to join the public debate on the Boston Games!

Five-Ring Circus

The cycle of national group bids to host the Olympic Games usually has not generated the type of openly negative discussion that occurred this year in the United States. From newspaper articles to blogs, to “Olbermann” on ESPN, Boston’s winning bid to represent the U.S. as a potential Summer Olympic site generated a firestorm of criticism and even some incredulity.

Sports historians, social scientists and other academics have written extensively regarding the cost of constructing stadiums Early books, such as Dean V. Baim’s The Sports Stadium As a Municipal Investment, used economic analysis to demonstrate that the stadiums cost significantly more than their projected cost. Few stadiums built from the 1960s through the 1980s ever earned a net positive financial gain.

One prime example was the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, built for the 1976 Summer Games and used by the Montreal Expos baseball team. According to Robert C. Trumpbour’s New Cathedrals, the stadium left the city with a $ 1 million debt. Paying the debt through the mid-2000s, according to Garry Whannel in Culture, Politics and Sport marred the memory of the games in the minds of citizens. The memory and current circumstances regarding the stadium have not improved as the stadium has basically been empty since 2005,

The books on stadiums have focused on stadium proponents main argument: that stadiums generate economic growth. Andrew Zimbalist, an economist at Smith College has written extensively about the falseness of this purported reason for supporting public financing of stadiums. He and Roger G. Noll’s book Sports, Jobs and Taxes concluded that sports teams and stadiums were not a source of local economic growth and employment and that the public financing provided to the team far outweighed the new jobs and taxes that the team and stadium provided the city or state. The message about the economic viability of stadiums started to reach more of the public.

In some cities, opponents of publicly financed stadiums made pitched but unsuccessful efforts to stop these expenditures, In 2004, Kevin J. Delaney and Rick Eckstein captured these battles in their book, Public Dollars, Private Stadiums. Intriguingly, stadium proponents downplayed the economic gain argument, and adopted two others to win the financing in cities ranging from Pittsburgh and Cincinnati to Denver, Phoenix and San Diego.

The Olympic Games offered two key assets to the hosting city and nation. The first, particularly important during the Cold War, centered on national pride. The second, promoted the economic gains that the Games reportedly brought. Proponents asserted that economy of the host country attained growth spurred on from new construction that occurred before the start of the Games. The gains continued during the games from event and visitor spending during the event.

Montreal showed that the economic gains often still leave a debt. Ferran Brunet’s study, “An economic analysis of the Barcelona’92 Olympic Games: resources, financing and impacts,” offered a somewhat more positive example. The author observed the typical underestimation of the cost to the Olympics, “In the development of the Olympic project the forecasts went from 237,000 million pesetas in April 1985, to an estimated 768,368 million in March 1991, to the final figure of 1,119,510 million pesetas in July of 1993.” The city and national governments and private partners invested this money and actually generated $ 2.2 million in profit. The Games provided a rise in employment and a stronger sense of confidence and world presence for the city and nation. However, when I visited a decade later, much of the Olympic area in the city appeared empty and devoid of people and games.

Do cities in the United States need the Games for similar reasons? Atlanta won the 1996 Summer games and sought to use them to promote tourism and attract businesses to the region. Again, pre-Olympic projections expected the creation of 77,026 jobs and $5.14 billion into the state economy. Despite Barcelona’s success, it’s jobs total capped out at less than 67,000. According to Steven P. French and Mike E. Disher in “Atlanta and the Olympics,” Atlanta spent over $200 million each for an indoor stadium and Olympic stadium. Much of the money came from private sources and very little public funds.

At the close of the Games, the estimate of economic benefits from the Games fell over a billion dollars below initial projections. What organizers either did not consider or perhaps include was the Olympics would not bring new spending. The games shifted spending away from other entertainment activities and other revenue-generating activities could not occur in Atlanta because of the presence of the Olympics. Additionally, visitor spending on food and lodging totaled less that expected.

In their book Olympic Dreams: The Impact of Mega-Events on Local Politics, authors Matthew J. Burbank, Gregory D. Andranovich and Charles H. Heying analyzed how three US cities fared in their attempt to use the Olympics as an approach to economic growth. They argued that the Atlanta region benefited from the tourist, employment and construction windfall. City officials replaced aging infrastructure, although residents paid double the cost for water and some other utilities since the changes. Their chapter focused on urban development aspects that did and didn’t happen with the Olympics. That will be the focus on the promises and deliveries for US cities with hosting the Olympics.

LGBT Athletes

A new study regarding lesbian, gay, and bisexual athletes throughout the world indicated that the U.S. ranks far behind many other countries in the acceptance of gay and lesbian athletes. An overwhelming number of gay and lesbian athletes remained afraid to indicate their sexual orientation to teammates, coaches and others.

 

A new study estimates that 83 percent of gay male youth athletes in the United States are keeping their sexual orientation hidden from some or all of their teammates. Lesbian athletes in the same age group (under 22 years old) were more willing to be public about it — 63 percent said they were hiding their orientation.

The reason for the secrecy — even in an age when polls show that acceptance has been increasing — is often fear. Nearly half of gay men and 44 percent of lesbians around the world who kept their sexual orientation hidden said they did so in order not to be bullied. In addition, fear of discrimination from coaches or officials was mentioned by 32 percent of gay men and 28 percent of lesbians.

The survey found that 80 percent of the respondents, both gay and heterosexual, had witnessed or experienced homophobia in sports.

Titled “Out On The Fields,” the report was based on a survey of nearly 9,500 gay, bisexual and heterosexual people and claims to be the largest-ever study on homophobia in sports. (The questions only related to sexual orientation, not gender identity, so the study offers no information about transgender athletes.)

After publicizing the anonymous online questionnaire through various media outlets,1 the researchers received answers from several English-speaking countries. The highest numbers of responses came from Australia (3,006), the United States (2,064), the United Kingdom (1,796), Canada (1,123), New Zealand (631) and Ireland (501).

The United States received the lowest overall “inclusion score” of all the countries analyzed, with a high number of respondents saying the U.S. was not accepting of gay athletes. (Though because of the small sample sizes for respondents from New Zealand and Ireland, it isn’t necessarily fair to say that the U.S. ranks worst.)

In a phone interview, the survey’s lead author, Erik Denison, said attitudes about privacy among athletes are often related to the perception of homophobia in sports.

“I made that decision myself when I kept in the closet,” he said. “Implicitly it is about discrimination, though. The straight men can talk openly in conversations about what you did at the weekend, the women they met. If you’re gay though, you either have to make up stories or be excluded. It’s not the same.”

The large scale of the survey, though, doesn’t mean that it is the definitive word on homophobia in sports. Even in countries that had a high number of respondents, it can be difficult to tease out more detailed trends because the subgroups are far too small. Responses were split into youth and adult sports (i.e. under age 22 and over age 22) but also broken out by sports played and the sexual orientation of the respondents.

What’s more, not everyone even said they played sports — among U.S. respondents, for example, 81 percent of gay women and 75 percent of gay men said they participated in youth sports, while 63 percent of gay women and 42 percent of gay men said they participated in adult sports. As a result, the finding that 83 percent of gay male youth athletes keep their sexuality hidden from teammates is based on just 114 individuals.

Denison and his co-author, Alistair Kitchen, both members of Australia’s first gay rugby team, said they were are aware of those limitations. Their international approach was partly informed by the fact that past smaller-scale studies on homophobia in sport have been dismissed for being too limited in scope. The final methodology and findings were reviewed by seven academic experts prior to publication.

Overall, these results should be treated as estimates in an under-researched area filled with speculation, rather than definitive numbers about gay athletes.

Gay respondents were more likely than heterosexual ones to say that homophobia was more common in team sporting environments than in general society. But LGB athletes also related positive reactions to revealing their orientation to their teammates. In its write-up of the report, the gay sports site Outsports.com acknowledged many of the issues cited by respondents but added that “people in sports behave very differently when an athlete actually comes out,” often welcoming the LGB athlete and apologizing for language used in the past.

Denison also described what he called “the snowball effect” — the notion that the more LGB athletes there are who are open about their sexual orientation, the more accepted gay athletes will become in sports. As evidence for that, Denison pointed to the higher share of lesbian athletes in the U.S. who are open about their sexuality with their teammates and the fact that lesbian athletes around the world are more likely to say teams offer them a “supportive and safe environment.”

Because of their visibility, LGB professional athletes are likely more influential than amateurs in getting the snowball effect rolling, but few seem comfortable speaking publicly. The survey allowed respondents to submit detailed stories about themselves — around 1,600 did so. Denison said that about three dozen of those who provided narrative accounts were professional athletes, including at least two on their respective countries’ national teams.

Last year, after the professional football player Michael Sam told ESPN and The New York Times that he is gay, he said he received messages from many fellow athletes who “had the courage to tell me that they were also gay, but they do not have the same courage as I do to come out.”

So far, Sam’s decision has not created a snowball effect in the U.S. — partly because there will need to be other outspoken gay athletes before the sport reaches what Denison describes as “a critical mass.”