Premier League complications, Korean Top Flight's Return.
I type with fingers that are sluggish, lagging a little behind my brain. Just Wednesday doing me in again. I have thought a lot this week about a Japanese concept I have been trying to grapple with. “Gaman 我慢.” A Zen term which roughly means, "enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity.” In a way, we are all proponents of Gaman right now. Attempting to summon deep reservoirs of "perseverance" and "patience.” To be ok with the concept of “doing our best” in the face of chaos, uncertainty, humbling self-doubt and suffering. In the old world, I can imagine the concept had a darkside, causing people to stay in jobs, relationships and situations that were bad for them. But in this new reality in which we have reached the American cheese nachos stage of self-isolation, I wish black belt levels of Gaman upon all of you.
Quick note: A lot of you have asked for banjo updates. Am working away, learning off random YouTube videos. Initial impressions. It is way harder than Steve Martin makes it look. Having your fingers do so many different things at once is not the Bennett way. I might end up being the Dejan Lovren of Banjo.
2. Today is an Epic Men In Blazers Day: Becky Sauerbrunn Wednesday Budweiser Happy Hour on Instagram Live at 6:30 p.m. ET!!! Please join us and spread the word to your football-loving friends. Becky is the American Hero we need to spend time with right now. Follow us on Insta @meninblazers and come and have a beer with us.
Before that, we tape with Chelsea hype-man, GFOP, from your Cleveland Cavaliers, Larry Nance Jr. We are also taping an interview with a genuine long time hero of mine whose lyrics I have oft quoted. I just got the Tingling even typing that. Stay tuned for more…
One final note: All of Stefan Frei’slimited-edition prints of his Rog portrait sold out in 24 hours. No, I did not get a single one of them. But each one raised money to supply food banks and support small businesses in Seattle, a city I adore, so we could not be more grateful to all of you for your passion, love and generosity. Those of you who did buy the print, I can’t wait to see photos of it besmirching your homes. Huge love to Stefan, too. A gent who I really adore because his passion for America matches mine. We are two gents born abroad who never take it for granted we were able to become citizens here.
3. To the Football:A group of doctors have expressed concern over the risks inherent in bringing football back by writing a letter to the Premier League raising 100 questions about the protocols designed to guarantee a safe return to training and action. The questions which include such specifics like “How long does the virus live on goalkeeper gloves? Do we need guidance on goalkeeper gloves related to cleaning/wiping? Should we advise goalkeepers to use medical gloves under goalkeeper gloves?” also contain the truly terrifying and morally complex: “As doctors, how can we ‘approve’ guidelines that still carry risk of death?”
The collective effect was to cause a panic in the heart of football. They will be discussed at the next Premier League Zoom Zoom meet, which has been pushed until Monday to ensure it follows the government’s next set of big decisions on Sunday. The big issue continues to be that of Neutral Venues. Relegation battling-Aston Villa CEO Christian Purlsow articulates his team’s resistance to the idea. “'Two-thirds of our wins this season came at home. We have six left. Giving up that advantage is a massive decision and I certainly wouldn't agree to it unless the circumstances are right. My duty is to my club.”
b. A look at how Covid has shattered the transfer marketplace. KPMG have calculated the pandemic has wiped $11 billion, or 25 percent in total, off player value. This piece looks at both star-by-star basis (Lionel Messi was $217m, Sale price now a cut-price $157m! Hello Interrr Miamiiii!) and club-by-club, and predicts that, whereas clubs used to drop $100 million on one transfer, they will now value shop for youth and expect to bring in four or five transfers for that combined amount.
c. Spanish club Eibar have become the first team to publicly speak out against La Liga’s planned return to training this week (with matches slated for June). The Basque club’s players - who are two points above the relegation zone - issued a statement saying, “We are worried about starting an activity in which we will not be able to complete the first recommendation of all experts which is physical distance. It worries us that by doing what we like most, we could get infected and infect our family and friends and even contribute to a new wave of the pandemic – with the terrible consequences that would have for the whole population.”
Bundesliga will be back May 15. A product of the nation’s effective battle against COVID-19 with the daily infection rate remaining below 1,000 for the fifth day running. Here is a close look at the details of its return, including a one-week player quarantine.
In other great news, South Korea’sK-League starts on Friday. The nation has been a gold standard globally for how to tackle coronavirus. Its football league will now benefit and be in the world’s spotlight. Games will be closed-door but there is a plan for masked fans to return later in the season with temperatures taken before they enter the stadium. There will be no shaking of hands. Excessive spitting or blowing of the nose is prohibited, as is player conversation. Welcome back, football. 축구를 환영합니다
4. More Football. Lovely Football.
i. Australia and Chelsea star, GFOP Sam Kerr talks about how the backlog of competitions piling up in the women’s game is going to change players’ lives: “Next year’s Olympics, then Asian Cup, then World Cup, then Olympics again. So the next off-year for the Matildas is five years away now when it was only one year. There’s no room for injury now, which is stressful, there’s no room for time off, there’s no room for girls in our team getting pregnant now – because that’s a thing in women’s football.”
vi. I love the Tragically Hip and this song is giving me strength right now.
6.Come for the Football, Stick Around for Birder’s Corner.
I have been heartened and shocked by the response to my newfound ornithological passions. Who knew there was such a crossover between Premier League football fans and birders? Two passions that appear equally off the deep end. Thanks to all who have emailed me photographs of the bluebirds, orioles, yellow throated warblers and more they have spotted from their windows or on their daily walks.
This thread by GFOP @ddoyle76 is the Premier League jersey-to-bird convertor you did not know you needed. Worth looking at for the nuanced Newcastle selection alone. I also want to thank Scott Arnold, GFOP, Liverpool fan and a mobile engineer at the National Audubon Society who asked us to promote his wonderful organization’s Birding App. Consider it done. And thanks to JT Torres, who recommended the Banjo-based band, Birds of Chicago. If they were Everton fans, that duo would be all my passions colliding.
I will close by noting that National Nurses Week begins today and ends May 12, which marks the birthday of Florence Nightingale, a British reformer and the founder of modern nursing. There are so many days that now clutter our calendar for public relations purposes (National No Beard Day, October 18), but in this pandemic world of lockdown, in which essential workers have become the front line in a battle they did not sign up for, we cannot express sufficient gratitude, not honor them loudly enough. Big love to every nurse, doctor, medical worker, and essential worker. We long for the day we can do a live show just to honor you. Until then, we will leave you with the medical wisdom of the Ramones:
“20, 20, 20, 4, hours to go I wanna be sedated Nothing to do, nowhere to go, oh I wanna be sedated”