But there are hotels all over sprawling Johannesburg. The city itself needs to be navigable; soccer fans don’t just move back and forth along pre-set axes like foosball dolls. Any tourist would be impressed with the Rea Vaya, but with months to go to kickoff, it took us eight additional taxi rides to get where a tourist might reasonably want to go. And anticipating the patterns of public transport use has never been Johannesburg’s strongest suit: Transport to and from the stadiums was the biggest black mark on last June’s trial-run Confederations Cup. I have visions of German spectators, brimming with I-told-you-sos, smugly blogging the beating of their minibus-taxi drivers next June.
I sent this article to about ten different friends and relatives. The transportation situation at the World Cup next summer could turn into a massive fiasco, although I'm hopeful that South Africa will respond with the world's attention fixed upon it. The one positive coming from the article is the fact that Jo'burg is getting a new public transportation system for the World Cup, which would be a rare instance of a major international tournament leaving a useful legacy in terms of infrastructure. I think about this point every time I drive to a Braves game and mutter to myself that MARTA doesn't go to the Ted.
2. S.L. Price's piece in Sports Illustrated about Urban Meyer. I couldn't put the piece down, if for no other reason than it was a reminder of how much of an outlier Meyer is, not unlike most people who are at the apex of a very competitive profession. A few random thoughts:
- I wonder how many dads in the State of Florida will decide that it is a good idea to make their sons run home eight miles for striking out in a baseball game.
- The story of Meyer failing as a minor league baseball player was reminiscent to me of the similar tale about Billy Beane in Moneyball. I could see how both of them were inspired to success in sports by their failings as athletes. (I wouldn't be shocked if there is a similar story floating around in the ether about Jose Mourinho.)
- Price did a good job of confronting the criticism of Meyer for his players' run-ins with the law. At the end of the piece, I felt a little bit more sympathetic towards Meyer's position. The endorsement from Marty Johnson's father was definitely meaningful. On the other hand, the influence of his wife, who has psychological training, reminded me of Tom Osborne, who also had a background in psychology and ultimately ended up with a roster full of miscreants? Is the story that Osborne and Meyer use psychological expertise to justify keeping very talented players on their rosters for selfish reasons? Do they have good intentions, but their players take advantage of a caring approach? Are their players' misdeeds covered excessively because their teams are so good? I'm just thinking out loud here. Maybe I should just say that when I read the Shelley Meyer passages, I thought "Tom Osborne."
- My first thought when I read the following quote by Meyer was "and this is when Urban Meyer goes from great coach to merely good: "You know what? I used to really stress about what people thought. But I don't care anymore. I've won. I've done it. I'm in a different place." Then Meyer was hospitalized after the loss to Alabama and I was reminded that maybe he is still the competitive guy who headbutted his players when he coached wide receivers at Notre Dame.