Shaq on paying for Jazmine Barnes’ funeral: “Just the right thing to do”

first_imgLorenzo Bevilaqua/ESPN Images(HOUSTON) — Former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal has done it before, he will do it again, and he does not to be praised for it.The basketball legend, who often goes by “Shaq,” paid for the funeral of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes, who was killed in a drive-by shooting in Texas.O’Neal explained his decision to pay for the funeral in an exclusive conversation with ABC News. For him, it was a matter of right and wrong:“Funerals… ten, fifteen thousand [dollars], that’s not going to hurt me, but for people to have to try to scrum money together to bury their little, beautiful daughter… nobody should ever have to go through that. So, I didn’t want them to have to go through that… It was just the right thing to do.”A local of Houston, Shaq was disturbed by Jazmine’s death and wanted to take action.“I’m watching the news, and I saw the story, and it just touched my heart. And I saw how devastated that mom was. And then to end the story… they had to raise money for the funeral? I can’t have that.”This is not the first time Shaq has paid for the funeral of a grieving family. He says he does not want credit for his altruism. Rather, he feels he is fulfilling a duty to ease the pain of a grieving family that he has the means to help.Jazmine was riding with her mother and three sisters through northwest Houston on Dec. 30 when a gunman opened fire. Jazmine, who was sitting in the backseat of their car, was shot in the head and killed. Her mother was wounded in her left arm. Two men were charged in her death.Houston Texans’ wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins also pledged to donate his $29,000 game check from the team’s playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts to help pay for Jazmine’s funeral.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Tedeschi Trucks Band Kick Off Tour In Fort Myers [Photos]

first_imgTedeschi Trucks Band kicked off their 2018 spring tour at the Barbara B. Mann Arts Hall in Fort Myers, Florida to a sold-out crowd on Thursday, April 12th. Delivering a wide-range of originals from their expansive discography, as well as choice blues covers, the twelve-piece ensemble used night one to dust off the cobwebs and get ready for a huge tour ahead.Susan Tedeschi walked out on stage and welcomed her family and friends who had come to see the show before proceeding to open with “Laugh About It” and “Just As Strange”—two songs from the band’s most recent album, Let Me Get By, before slowing it down for a beautiful, soulful rendition of “Bird On The Wire”.Next up was a smoking version of the blues standard “The Sky Is Crying”, a song written in 1959 by Elmore James but gained notoriety through Stevie Ray Vaughn‘s version. Guitarist and bandleader Derek Trucks ripped through the song in his usual fashion and got the crowd going. From there, the band played another song off the Let Me Get By album with funky, NOLA-tinged “Don’t Know What It Means”. Following that was their hit “Part of Me” from 2013’s Made Up Mind. The band closed out the first set with “Shame” and “More and More” before taking a 30-minute set break.The excited crowd was welcomed back with a stellar version of “Anyhow” that showcased some outstanding lead guitar work by Trucks and some soulful singing and horn work from the brass section and vocalists. They followed that with a cover of Taj Mahal‘s “Leavin Trunk” which was highlighted by excellent vocals. At the end of that song, the band broke it down with a very long spacey lead into their big hit “Midnight in Harlem” from the Revelator LP. The band slowed things down a bit after that with “Angel From Montgomery” which turned into a beautiful version of the Grateful Dead‘s “Sugaree” as the crowd joined in to sing the chorus. The second set ended with “Get What You Deserve”, “How Blue Can You Get”, and “I Want More”. After a short break, Tedeschi Trucks Band came out for a superb encore of the Allman Brothers Band‘s ” Statesboro Blues” followed by “Made Up Mind”.The band will return to the stage this evening With Matt Schofield in Tallahassee, Florida at the Capital City Amphitheater and Saturday in Savannah, Georgia at the Savannah Music Festival before heading to the Midwest and Western part of the tour. This summer, the band will play with The Marcus King Band and The Drive-By Truckers for The Wheels Of Soul tour.Check out the gallery below, courtesy of photographer Chris Burgess.Tedeschi Trucks Band | Barbara B. Mann Arts Hall | For Myers, FL | 4/12/18 | Photos: Chris Burgess Photo: Chris Burgess Load remaining imageslast_img read more

Letters to the Editor for Thursday, Nov. 14

first_imgEllis must change credentialing formOver the last 12 years, I have privately urged Ellis Hospital to change its credentialing procedures. I hope that by my publicly airing my concerns, they will be taken more seriously. Ellis Hospital requires all physicians who have privileges to complete a detailed medical questionnaire.We are required to list the doctors we have seen, the reason for the appointments and any medications prescribed. We also must answer questions about various symptoms, including our reproductive and mental health. I do not even work at Ellis Hospital. I must complete this form to access patient labs from the Ellis electronic record. Ellis requires me to disclose my entire medical history to review patient labs.While privacy issues are concerning, I am more troubled by the impact these questions have on fellow physicians. I have been unable to convince colleagues to seek treatment for depression because they do not want to disclose that treatment on the Ellis Hospital form. Suicide rates in physicians are much higher than in the general population. I worry about those who need treatment but are not receiving it.Several months ago, I was told the form would be changed. It has not been changed. This week, two physician administrators called me and reminded me that change takes time – that they want to make changes but must first filter through many committees. Twelve years is too long to wait, when changing this form may save a doctor’s life.Catherine Smitas, MDSchenectadyOpine on abortion, not breast feedingDear Diane Sanders Hombach, regarding your Oct. 30 letter (“Writer has no right to discuss abortion“) to Mr. Wendell Neugebauer, I believe he has every right to his opinion on abortion.Just because a man can’t deliver a baby doesn’t mean he doesn’t have feelings for an unborn child.If he were commenting on whether a woman should breast feed or not, now that’s another matter. Note to Wendell – If you think you were spanked over your comments on abortion, don’t even voice your opinion on breast feeding.Lorraine VanDerWerkenSchenectadyExactly what crimes did Trump commit?I just read Ms. Cartwright’s Nov. 9 letter (“No good Democrat is supportive of Trump”). As is common practice among the opposition, they spray around phrases that President Trump ‘broke laws’, defied the Constitution, etc.But, as is also common practice, not once do they ever list these illusory occasions. Let me try to help: Did he prohibit ‘due process’ during the Kavanaugh hearings?  No, no. That was the Democrats. Did he bribe a foreign government to fire an elected official? No. Did he direct states and cities to ignore federal immigration laws to let criminal aliens out on the streets? No, no, those were Democratic controlled entities. Did he sign bills allowing the abortion of fetuses up to the time of birth? Oops, sorry, there is nothing in the Constitution on that; it comes from a higher law. Ever hear of Thou Shalt Not Kill? Alas, those bills were signed by Democratic governors, not President Trump. He is pro-life and that is not a crime.I will wait for you, or anyone, to come up with some crime that is provable. How did Mueller make out? But if you and others who believe as you think there is nothing wrong with the items I’ve listed, then your title is accurate: There are no good Democrats.Jeffrey FalaceSchenectadyMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusGov. Andrew Cuomo’s press conference for Sunday, Oct. 18Foss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motorists Categories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionRiggi had become ineffective on councilIn response to Tricia Margas’ Nov. 11 letter (“How could voters not re-elect Vince Riggi?”), for my family it was very easy to not vote for Riggi.In June, my wife Barbara called Vince Riggi at home at least three times about problems we were having with Schenectady code enforcement. My wife was a former Riggi supporter and had been former president and vice president of the Mont Pleasant Neighborhood Association, plus she had graduated high school with Mr. Riggi.Three phone calls on separate days and guess what? No answer back and no support of Vince Riggi.Vince blended in too much with the other members of the City Council. The elections show Vince had lost over 500 supporters between 2015 and November 2019. He had become ineffective.Jack Fitch, Sr.Schenectadylast_img read more

On 42-6 vote, Iowa Senate endorses birth control access at pharmacy counter

first_imgDES MOINES — The Iowa Senate has passed a bill that would let adult women in Iowa skip the requirement of a prescription and be able to buy birth control at the pharmacy counter.Republican Governor Kim Reynolds expressed support for this concept last fall and Senator Liz Mathis, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, praised the senate’s bipartisan 42-6 vote.“This is really quite a big day for the state of Iowa to do this,” Mathis said. “…I’m not excluding men here, but I think women understand intimately the issues surrounding access to birth control.”Three first-term senators — all women — urged their colleagues to vote for the bill.“As the mother of a daughter, I think that this is another layer of options for our women in our state,” said Republican Senator Carrie Koelker of Dyersville. “It helps with family planning and unwanted pregnancies.”Chris Cournoyer of LeClaire, another Republican who was just elected to the senate last November, said the bill will give Iowa women access to affordable birth control.“It is responsible,” she said. “It is under the supervision of a pharmacist and it has been an established, proven method of birth control that has worked for women all across this country for many, many years.”Republican Senator Tom Greene of Burlington, a retired pharmacist, said Iowa pharmacists have had six years of intense training about proper dosage levels and will recommend a women seek a doctor’s advice if there are any concerns.“It behooves all of us to make sure that young women of today have access to proper care,” Green said.First-term Senator Claire Celsi of Des Moines, a Democrat, voted for the bill, but expressed “deep reservations” about it, partly becauseshe had an adverse reaction to birth control.“No offense to Senator Greene, but pharmacists are not doctors,” Celsi said. “Pharmacists can refuse a woman birth control — did you know that? — if they’re ethically opposed to it.”First-term Republican Senator Mariannette Miller-Meeks, an eye doctor from Ottumwa who’s a former nurse and the former director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, guided the bill through the senate. She closed debate on the measure by urging her colleagues to trust women to make this decision.“I’m going to rely upon my experience with women and caring for women,” she said, “that we’re intelligent, that we’re capable and we’re knowledgeable.”The bill now goes to the Republican-led House for consideration.last_img read more

Saudi Arabia Embraces Solar Energy

first_imgThe production of solar electricity is about to get a big boost in a country sitting on some of the richest oil reserves on the planet. According to an article in The Atlantic, the Saudi Arabian government is set to get into the photovoltaics (PV) business in a big way by beginning construction of solar projects around the country and by opening a commercial-scale PV module factory of its own. Although it has since pushed back the target date, the government announced three years ago that it would have 41 gigawatts of solar capacity online by 2032, besting the output of the current No. 1 solar country in the world, Germany. It also sees an international market for the solar panels it produces as the global market for PV continues to expand.The root of the Saudi push for solar energy has nothing to do with concerns about lowering the country’s carbon footprint, the article says, and everything to do with self-preservation.With a population of just 30 million people, Saudi Arabia is the sixth largest consumer of oil in the world. The country burns about one-quarter of the oil it produces, and consumption has been rising by 7% per year, three times the rate of population growth. If the trend continues, a 2011 report predicted, domestic consumption would eat into exports in another six years, and turn the kingdom into a net importer of oil by 2038.Unless its use of oil can be trimmed, the country faces an alarming future. Great potential for solar growthOn the production side, the Saudis are planning to open a big solar panel factory near Riyadh. On the coast of the Persian Gulf, another factory will soon begin producing large quantities of polysilicon, a key raw material for PV cells, Ball reports.Saudi Arabia not only has huge oil reserves, but also some of the best solar potential on earth. Next year, two state-owned companies plan to break ground on 10 PV projects around the country.There are still many difficulties ahead, Ball says, including bureaucratic infighting that pits entrenched oil interests against the nascent renewables industry, dust and sandstorms that can blot out the sun and cut the production of electricity quickly, and a lack of public interest in conserving oil.The threat posed by unchecked consumption at home is a powerful incentive. Aramco sells oil to the Saudi Electric Company for about $4 a barrel, and with global prices now about $60 a barrel it means that the kingdom forfeits some $56 for every barrel of oil it uses at home and doesn’t send to market.More domestic oil consumption also lowers the country’s ability to keep competitors like the U.S. shale oil industry from gaining too much power.But moving to a solar future will be difficult. Skeptics think even the revised 2040 target date for the 41 GW of solar capacity is impossible.“Proving them wrong would require reshuffling an economic deck that the kingdom’s leaders have stacked for decades to favor petroleum,” Ball writes. “In that sense, Saudi Arabia’s energy challenge is a more extreme version of the one that faces the rest of the world. But if the kingdom’s leaders can find the political courage to act decisively, Saudi Arabia, of all nations, could become a model for other countries trying to shift away from oil.” Great reserves means great wasteIts huge reserves of oil make it easy for Saudi Arabia to put energy conservation on a back burner.“The government sells gasoline to consumers for about 50 cents a gallon and electricity for as little as 1 cent a kilowatt-hour, a fraction of the lowest prices in the United States,” Jeffrey Ball writes in The Atlantic. “As a result, the highways buzz with Cadillacs, Lincolns, and monster SUVs; few buildings have insulation; and people keep their home air conditioners running — often at temperatures that require sweaters — even when they go on vacation.”Air conditioning consumes about 70% of all electricity in the kingdom, much of which is produced by burning oil. Power plants are inefficient.If this trend continues, the outcome would be “cataclysmic” for the kingdom, Ball says. Oil exports underwrite the generous benefits available to Saudi citizens — not only cheap energy at home, but extensive social services (all in a country without income taxes). If oil exports decline, so does the income that pays for all of that.last_img read more

The Creative Motivation Behind Deep vs. Shallow Depth of Field

first_imgThis breakdown covers a range of creative motivations behind these two aperture settings, as well as the pros and cons of using each category.Determining the right aperture for a shot is just as important as choosing the right lens. Altering your aperture changes not only the depth of field (a.k.a. the blurry background), but it also controls the emotional tone of a shot. A higher F-stop is more fitting for wide vistas, while a lower one can create a feeling of isolation.In the following breakdown, I’ve narrowed the examples into two separate categories — shallow depth of field (F0.95 – F3.5) and deep depth of field (F4 – F16). Shallow Shots (F0.95 – F3.5)Let’s begin with a shallow depth of field (also known as a narrow depth of field). This low aperture control creates the feeling of isolation between the subject you’re capturing and the world around them because the background is blurrier. The lower the number, the more your primary subject stands out from their surroundings. Using a shallow depth of field enhances the visual style, and it creates a beautiful backdrop.Cons?Despite its dreamy quality, dialing your aperture any higher than an F2.8 creates the ongoing problem of keeping things in focus. Nailing that crisp shot can become tricky since the range of attention is so narrow.Getting Dynamic with Deep Shots (F4 – F16)I’ll openly admit that I’m a sucker for shallow depth of field shots. They’re creamy, dreamy, and, well . . . just super cinematic. That being said, there are some significant perks to filming with a higher aperture setting. First off, everything is in focus. You won’t struggle to get that razor-sharp image at an F16, because there’s no depth. This is helpful if you’re using manual focus, or shooting in nature and trying to capture a massive landscape with all its beautiful details.Cons?The most obvious con for deep depth is that there’s no depth. There’s nothing to separate your subject from the background. This can make character-driven shots look ugly, due to the distraction of the background. Another pitfall comes from your dirty sensor. That’s right! Capturing anything with an F-stop higher than an F4 brings out all the nasty specs on your sensor. Since there’s no depth of field, any piece of dust resting on your sensor or lens becomes much more present in the final frame.Interested in the tracks we used to create this video?“Blue Blood” by Aulx Studio“Success Story” by Vincent ToneLooking for more on cinematography? Check these out.Choosing Aspect Ratio: A Guide to Everything You Need to KnowWhy Filmmakers and Photographers Prefer to Use Soft LightCapturing the Cinematic Moment: Creative Uses for a Color MeterWhere to Find Vintage Lenses (and Tips on How to Use Them)4 Older Cinema Cameras That Hold Up to Today’s Standardslast_img read more

Healthy after kidney transplant, Merritt returns to worlds

first_imgEthel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ Merritt won bronze at the 2015 world championships in Beijing with his kidneys barely functioning because of a genetic disorder. He received the transplant from his sister less than a week later. Now healthy, he’s ready to see what he can do with worlds being held at the venue where he won an Olympic gold medal during the 2012 London Games.“I always felt once I was healthy, all it would take is for me to put in the work,” Merritt explained. “That’s something I’ve been lacking. I haven’t been able to put in the work in two years.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutHarris proved uncatchable as he finished in 13.24 seconds. Merritt was 0.07 seconds behind, and former University of Oregon football player Devon Allen took third.“I talked with (Merritt) when we first got here and asked him how he felt, and he said he felt really good,” Harris said. “It was great to hear that.” Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ WATCH: Firefighters rescue baby seal found in parking garage Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games View comments Tennis: McEnroe ranks Serena 700th on men’s tour The 31-year-old Merritt knew he would be able to make a strong return to the hurdles — even if others didn’t buy in.“I was told, ‘You’ll never come back to the sport with the medications you have to take that are life long,’” said Merritt, whose mom and sister were in the stands. “It was something that went in one ear and out there other.“No matter what someone may tell you, whether it’s a doctor or not, you can’t give up hope. You always have to stay positive and look at the brighter picture.”The highlights from the last day of nationals:DID YOU SEE THATADVERTISEMENT World’s 50 Best Restaurants launches new drinking and dining guide LATEST STORIEScenter_img What ‘missteps’? Cayetano to unmask people behind ‘smear campaign’ vs him, SEA Games From left, Devon Allen, Aries Merritt, and Aleec Harris run the men’s 110-meter hurdles at the U.S. Track and Field Championships, Sunday, June 25, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif. Harris won the event, Merritt finished second, and Allen finished third. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Aries Merritt will be making a return to the world championships. This time, with a working kidney.The world-record holder Merritt finished second behind Aleec Harris in the 110-meter hurdles at the U.S. track and field championships Sunday. His place — as long as it was top three — didn’t really matter. He just wanted a spot.ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. “The 200 is my baby. I love this race,” Stevens said. “It felt to go out there and execute the way I know I could.”THE COLLEGE TRYKendell Williams of the University of Georgia captured the heptathlon title and Florida’s Eric Futch won the men’s 400 hurdles.They both won at NCAA championships earlier this month. Williams’ brother, Devon, earned a spot in the decathlon earlier at nationals.QUOTABLE“It seems like everyone I grew up with 12 years ago on this circuit is no longer competing,” said pole vaulter Jenn Suhr, who won a gold medal at the London Games. Suhr finished second to Sandi Morris on Sunday.FACTS & FIGURES17-year-old Sydney McLaughlin set a world under-20 record in the 400 hurdles with a time of 53.82 . … Evan Jager (steeplechase), Ajee Wilson (800), Jarrion Lawson (long jump), Emmanuel Corvera (men’s race walk), Maria Michta-Coffey (women’s race walk), Bryan McBride (high jump), Donavan Brazier (800) also won. … Teenager Noah Lyles was one of the favorites in the 200, but didn’t race in the semifinals because of a strained right hamstring. LaShawn Merritt didn’t start, either. In the women’s 200, Allyson Felix didn’t race the final. Felix and Merritt already have automatic entries into worlds in the 400. … Clayton Murphy was dealing with hamstring issues and didn’t race in the 800 final.ON DECKWorld championships in London from Aug. 4-13. MOST READ 1 dead in Cavite blast, fire One of the biggest crowd eruptions was on Ryan Crouser’s final heave in the shot put, when he surpassed Joe Kovacs. Crouser had a mark of 74 feet, 3 3/4 inches (22.65 meters) to hold off Kovacs, who already had an automatic bye into worlds as the defending world champion.“It’s a confidence boost, showing I can come through on the last throw,” Crouser said.FAST RACEOlympic 400 hurdles gold medalist Dalilah Muhammad won the event at nationals in a fast race that saw the top three all go under 53 seconds.“That’s so amazing,” Muhammad said.CAUGHT AT THE LINEJust like in the 100, Christian Coleman took the early lead in the 200. And just like in the 100, he was caught at the last moment. Coleman was out-leaned at the finish by Ameer Webb, who finished in 20.09 seconds to win by 0.01. Elijah Hall-Thompson, who’s coached at the University of Houston by Carl Lewis, was third.“Racing at this high level you can never think you have it,” Coleman said. “He got me today.”FROM THE OUTSIDEOregon standout Deajah Stevens won the 200 from the outside lane, edging Kimberlyn Duncan and Tori Bowie. Heart Evangelista admits she’s pregnant… with chickenlast_img read more

India MPs protest against Team India’s poor performance; other sports demand attention

first_imgPASSIONS INFLAMED: The cricket protestHonourable Members of Parliament, if we may be so intemperate as to interrupt your nation building and proffer an observation. Your spirited protest after the cricket team’s miseries in South Africa has proved that India’s sporting future is secure and in caring hands.The impact of such,PASSIONS INFLAMED: The cricket protestHonourable Members of Parliament, if we may be so intemperate as to interrupt your nation building and proffer an observation. Your spirited protest after the cricket team’s miseries in South Africa has proved that India’s sporting future is secure and in caring hands.The impact of such passionate involvement was immediately felt: the nexus of the businessmen and er… politicians that runs the BCCI was humbled. The team was forced to buttress its defences (particularly around the gates of players’ homes). The fact that the coach masterminded an adjournment of Parliament means that formulating a World Cup master plan will be chicken feed. All introspection is healthy.Naturally, athletes from other disciplines now expect the MPs to be as vociferous and strident on other sporting issues where India’s pride is being muddied:Like how our men’s hockey team can have the 17 changes of coach in 12 years, and only one Asian Games gold and one Junior World Cup to show for it? Or how world-class centre half Viren Rasquinha was axed from the Asiad squad on grounds of fitness? In five fitness tests, he finished under the stipulated nine minutes in four out of five 2.4 km runs and was in the top three in the 40 m speed tests.Like how it is that after being a force in the women’s game, India is now a doping pariah in weightlifting? Banned for a year and forced to stay out of the Doha Asian Games, with the 2008 Olympics in doubt, because a $50,000 (Rs 22 lakh) fine must be paid before the team can compete again.advertisementAlso, how is it that coaches sacked after dope scandals were welcomed back, including the notorious Pal Singh Sandhu as “advisor”-this after he was “banned for life” after our first positive dope tests at an Olympics (Athens 2004). And those who have presided over escalating positive dope tests, remain in office expressing regret.Like why is it, by coach Laszlo Scuzak’s reckoning, that our shooters can only get in 70 days of training a year as opposed to their rivals’ 270 training days for want of ammunition? It is, they say, like asking a diver to pull out his best dive-into 10 cm of water.Like, why is it that 12 months after signing a Rs 270-crore-plus 10-year deal with Zee Sports, the All India Football Federation has no formal youth development programme up and running? And India’s ranking, 148 this month, is behind Grenada, Maldives and Swaziland, its under-20s unable to win a SAF Games title.MPs don’t have to go far to demand answers for our sport, just look across Parliament benchesLike how, after a six-month search, the country’s best woman pole vaulter V.S. Surekha couldn’t get the best fibre glass pole a week before the Asian Games. The import through the Government was taking too long so she paid for the Rs 30,000 pole herself. Indian vaulters use the same pole in training and in competition whereas their competitors use several.Like whether it is reasonable to spend around Rs 28 crore on an 11-minute function at the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony in Melbourne? Rs 28 crore could fund 10 hockey astro-turfs in India with enough left over to fund training sessions in the world’s best athletics facilities for four years. The loose change would buy a couple of pole vaults each for Surekha and friends.There’s enough here for Parliament to get shirty about, heads that can be demanded, prime candidates being K.P.S. Gill in hockey, Balbir Singh Bhatia in weightlifting. What’s even better the MPs don’t have to go as far as South Africa.All they have to do is look across the benches and demand answers: from Suresh Kalmadi of the Indian Olympic Association, also athletics boss, Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi and/or Praful Patel of the All India Football Federation, Vijay Kumar Malhotra in archery, the Chautala brothers, Ajay and Abhay in boxing and table tennis.Now they may not be as easy targets as the Indian cricketers, but they all deserve a cheap shot or two.last_img read more

Why Our Predictions Like Serena Williams And Novak Djokovic More Than The

Kyle Wagner: (sports editor): So FiveThirtyEight has U.S. Open predictions for the first time, and I’m sure lots of folks have questions about how they work and, more important, why they’re any good. Someone want to give us the 30-second version of how they’re made?Ben Morris (writer/researcher): For player strength and individual match win probabilities, we use our tennis Elo ratings system, tailored to a hard-court tournament like the U.S. Open.Jay Boice (computational journalist): Then we take those Elo ratings and head-to-head win probabilities along with the bracket structure and calculate the chance that each player will reach each round, who their likely opponents would be in that round, and how those opponents would affect their Elo rating. A big tree of conditional probabilities …Kyle Wagner: And that’s basically the same way that we forecast NBA and NFL seasons, yeah?Ben Morris: Pretty similar, yes. Though Elo works somewhat differently in individual sports like tennis than in league sports like the NBA.Reuben Fischer-Baum (visual journalist): One big difference: Tennis Elo doesn’t account for margin of victory, plus some other, more technical differences (NBA and NFL are simulation-based).Ben Morris: This is true, but not necessarily a limitation in my view. Trying to account for margins in tennis often leads to worse predictions. Winning actually matters! Most of the information is carried in who wins and loses, and the information beyond that isn’t super reliable.Reuben Fischer-Baum: I agree with Ben on that. In other major sports, margin of victory tracks much more nicely with quality (with some weird exceptions, like the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors, who had a surprisingly consistent margin regardless of opponent strength).Kyle Wagner: What would accounting for matchups look like?Carl Bialik (writer): One challenge is the sample size: Most players don’t play any other specific opponent all that often. I’ve wondered if you could overcome that by accounting for matchup style: building taxonomies of player types like we’ve done for NFL quarterbacks and see how certain players do against, say, tall players with big serves or small ones with great backhands and speed.Kyle Wagner: One thing we’ve seen with this projection is that our model likes Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic a lot more than the betting markets. Do you think that’s mainly because of those differences? Or is it something more basic, like the length of a tournament or the fact that Williams’s and Djokovic’s health is uncertain?Reuben Fischer-Baum: In terms of the betting markets, tennis Elo, like NBA and NFL, isn’t accounting for injuries. That could make a big difference! For reference: Betfair has Djokovic at around 36 percent right now and has Djokovic and Andy Murray more or less neck-and-neck. Fifteen Minutes In Flushing: Our U.S. Open Podcast Returns Jay Boice: A good way to judge the model is just to look at its calibration: Did players with an X percent chance of winning a match actually win X percent of the time?Reuben Fischer-Baum: Damn, we’re killing it. Next question.Ben Morris: As with all models that give win percentages, evaluating its performance is tricky. You want the predicted winners to win as often as possible, but you also want people predicted to win 70 percent of the time to win 70 percent of the time, etc.Incidentally, those goals can sometimes be at odds. What if one model predicts the correct winner 70 percent of the time, but another model predicts the correct winner only 69 percent of the time, but the 80 percent guys win 80 percent and the 50 percent guys win 50 percent, etc. Note: For simulation purposes, having the second of those is almost certainly better.Reuben Fischer-Baum: In a much blunter way, our model will sort of inevitably be judged by the performance of Djokovic and Williams at this point — not that that would be our preference!Jay Boice: You can also throw Brier score in there, Ben, and sometimes that’s also at odds with predicting winners and calibration.Ben Morris: Yeah, I mean, the odds of one of Djokovic/Williams winning and the other losing are greater than the odds of both of them winning.Kyle Wagner: Maybe we should start headlining like that.Ben Morris: Yet, if we miss one, Twitter will be all, “LOL 538.”Reuben Fischer-Baum: The lesson is to not predict stuff.CORRECTION (Aug. 31, 12:10 p.m.): An earlier version of this article gave the incorrect winner of the 2016 Wimbledon men’s singles title. It was Andy Murray, not Novak Djokovic. Reuben Fischer-Baum: This might not be an answerable question, but how far back do you have to go (for Murray and Djokovic) before matches are making negligible impacts on current Elo ratings?Ben Morris: OK, so perspective: When Andy Murray beat Djokovic at the Rome Masters in May, he gained 13.9 Elo points; that was in the final. When he beat Lucas Pouille in the semifinal, he gained 2.1 points. Elo is unimpressed by beating people you’re supposed to beat.Carl Bialik: The faster way for Murray to catch up is for Djokovic to lose more to guys like Sam Querrey, who beat him at Wimbledon.Reuben Fischer-Baum: But Murray’s behind Djokovic by like 170 points!Ben Morris: Yes.Reuben Fischer-Baum: So that means that he’d have to beat Djokovic in like 12 straight finals to pass him?Ben Morris: Djokovic lost 13 points in Rome. So like six straight finals.Reuben Fischer-Baum: Ah, right. Well a little more, because they’d gain and lose less the closer they get in Elo?Ben Morris: Yes. Quick — someone run the simulation on a Murray v. Djokovic only tournament!But there’s also some sense in that. Just because Murray beat Djokovic a bunch of times doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the better player. See, e.g., Nadal and Federer.Carl Bialik: Headline this chat: Federer Is Better Than Nadal Even Though He Always Loses To Him and people will click.Reuben Fischer-Baum: But Nadal-Federer was a surface thing, right? Or nah?Ben Morris: Nadal beat Federer more than he was supposed to on every surface.Carl Bialik: Nadal almost always beats Federer on clay but also is 9-7 against him on hard courts.Kyle Wagner: That gets into why you have a system, though. If we’re pretty sure that one player is the best in the world and another player beats the shit out of him every time they play, this should inform a prediction on what happens in their next match, no?Ben Morris: Well, that’s what we were chatting about. It would be a nice feature to add. But I suspect that there are few cases in which it would make a significant difference. Even Nadal vs. Federer — like the most famous example in all of tennis — wasn’t completely outside the realm of variance.Reuben Fischer-Baum: It certainly wouldn’t boost Murray’s chances in our interactive at the moment.Carl Bialik: Not against Djokovic or Nadal in a possible final, anyway. Murray owns most guys in his half of the draw.Kyle Wagner: OK, “should we have a thing that is better” was probably not the right question — but does the fact that we don’t have a mechanism in place that can deal with that mean we think our projections are more effective in a Player vs. The Field scenario than they are in individual matchups?Ben Morris: No. I think our model is pretty solid for individual matchups, with the caveat that occasionally one player who has dominated another player may be given too low of a chance. But I think those situations are rarer and mean less than people may think.Carl Bialik: I have a question. How will we judge how well this model did? In addition to whether or not Williams and Djokovic win, which is how everyone else will judge it (validly).Posted this Monday night: Related: Baseline Carl Bialik: I agree. The betting markets were showing Djokovic and Williams as odds-on favorites for the U.S. Open after Wimbledon. Their Elo ratings were a little higher then — they both lost early at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro — but the bigger change is that they both are struggling with injuries. Here, reporters and fans are reporting from their practices — and canceled practices. Djokovic looked rusty early in his first match, better by the end. Elo doesn’t care about any of that. It just knows he survived and advanced.Reuben Fischer-Baum: If we’re willing to say that the betting market maybe overcorrects for injury/margin/rustiness (and I’m not sure we are), Djokovic’s match on Monday night might be a good one to point to. The announcers couldn’t stop talking about how he looked rusty, and he dropped a set, but he still stomped the guy in the end. The match itself was never really in doubt.Carl Bialik: I was watching behind another writer who kept turning away from the court and to me to say how terrible Djokovic looked as he hit winners and coasted in the last two sets.And it was hilarious after the match when ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi tried to get Djokovic on court to say anything specific about his wrist and Djokovic kept changing the subject to the stadium, the crowd, Phil Collins — didn’t want to give those bettors any info to overreact to. Although I won’t be too quick to dismiss the betting markets, not when Djokovic has to win six more matches and they won’t all be against opponents as overmatched as last night’s.Ben Morris: FWIW, our model is definitely more bullish on Djokovic/Williams than I expected, even before the injury issues. I think this is largely due to the lack of strong second/third tiers that normally grind down the favorites’ chances over the course of a tournament.Jay Boice: Yeah, Elo really, really likes Williams and Djokovic. For example, Williams is about 260 Elo points better than her nearest competitor (Simona Halep) and the rest of the field. That’s kind of like filling the NBA playoffs with the Warriors and all the teams who didn’t make the playoffs last year.Reuben Fischer-Baum: Betfair has Williams at 38 percent to win it all, but Angelique Kerber, the second favorite, at just 13 percent — a much bigger gap than the betting odds in the men’s field.1Kerber is the second favorite in our model, too, even though we rate Halep higher, in part because Kerber, unlike Halep, wouldn’t have to face Williams until the final.Ben Morris: Generally, if I model something and there’s a small gap with betting markets, I might think, “Yeah, I’m doing it better.” But if there’s a big gap, I think, “There’s probably something my model is missing.”Reuben Fischer-Baum: I think injuries are a big deal! This is a pretty obvious point, but an injury in tennis means a lot more than an injury in basketball or football because … there’s just one player.Carl Bialik: Another reason to be a little surprised by the confidence of the model is that players have to win seven matches in a row. Even winning March Madness takes just six. Though favorites at majors get a lot of protection in the draw.On the other hand: Williams has won nine of the last 17 majors. Djokovic has won six of the last nine. Cherry-picked end points and all that, but more often than not lately, they’ve both won. And when they haven’t, they usually have come really close.Kyle Wagner: Is the weak second or third rung the case for just this tournament, or would it be the norm if we did predictions for every major?Carl Bialik: It’s been the norm during this current age of Williams and Djokovic — but particularly here with Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka out.Kyle Wagner: Do injuries to players like Federer or suspensions like Sharapova’s — big chunks of the competitive ecosystem — throw off a zero-sum model like Elo in an outsize way, or should the model be able to adjust for that?Jay Boice: Injuries are just so varied — it’s tough to quantify them and fit them into a model …Reuben Fischer-Baum: I don’t think players missing the tournament throws off Elo though.Ben Morris: Well, our Elo isn’t a zero-sum model. Players missing shouldn’t throw it off in any way. Nor should players retiring, etc. In the long run, the points they take off the table get picked up by new players with the more rapid adjustment to their ratings.Reuben Fischer-Baum: I have a question! So Djokovic has a much higher Elo rating than Andy Murray, which fits how you might think about their two careers, but not necessarily how you’d think about their 2016 performances. Is it possible that part of the difference with the betting markets is that Elo is less reactive?Ben Morris: Well, with or without matchup style, history between players is relevant information that at least in some circumstances can be predictively useful. That is definitely something that could be incorporated, even if the effect is small. But more is possible.Reuben, I think you can definitely say that part of the difference is likely that betting markets ARE more reactive than our Elo to recent performances, especially for players with long careers like these two. A very different question, however, is whether that’s right. Our Elo adjusts slowly for grizzled veterans for a reason — because it works.Carl Bialik: I agree. But also I think markets can make too much of streaks and titles. Murray won 22 in a row recently, but none of those came against Djokovic or Nadal, the two guys we think are the best men besides Murray in the draw. A win over Djokovic is the best way for Murray to gain Elo points and catch up. But he’s lost 13 of the last 15 to him.Ben Morris: Over the course of a long career, players have hot streaks and cold streaks, and when those come later in a player’s career, they mean less. The function we use to update ratings after matches reflects that, and makes better predictions overall as a result. Or put another way, if Murray’s hot year really reflects a huge jump in his ability, that would be the exception to the historical rule. We’re forecasting every match of the 2016 men’s and women’s U.S. Open tournaments. See our predictions here » As FiveThirtyEight’s staff watched U.S. Open results come in Monday and change the probabilities in our forecast — our first ever for a tennis tournament — we started asking ourselves some questions. Such as: Why did we think Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic looked dominant in our model when betting markets weren’t nearly as confident in the favorites? Since we were chatting about it anyway, we decided to have a chat worth publishing. (All numbers are as of when we talked on Tuesday afternoon, after Djokovic’s first match but before Williams’s.) It’s below, lightly edited. Check out our U.S. Open predictions. read more