Category Archives: Sport

Serena Williams and Jehovah’s Witnesses

Serena is a joy to watch. Her passion and determination together with her execution on court make her one of the greatest atheletes sport has ever seen. 22 Grand slams, and decades of competitive tennis. Remarkable, and the achievement should be belittled by no one. 

When Serena Williams thanks Jehovah for winning a grand slam, I cannot help but be reminded how as a child elders banned us from competitive sports. Chess was banned as too violent by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Tennis took away time preparing for the end of the world. The spiritual must come first. 

Above Serena mentions the “many, many hours on the court working for my one moment.” This is what the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach children regarding taking up a sport.

How much you play. The Bible says: “Make sure of the more important things.”—Philippians 1:10.

You need to set your priorities; spiritual things should come first. Most games can last several hours, whether you are playing or just watching. “I used to have conflicts with my mom over how much time I spent watching games on TV when that time could have been better spent,” says a young woman named Daria.

To emphasise that several hours playing, let alone watching, a sport is spirtually unhealthy, they use this analogy:

Putting too much emphasis on sports is like putting too much salt on your food

I remember we had one social outing as a congregation (at my mother’s urging). One kid had brought an American football. An elder insisted we could play throw but we should not form teams. Competition was not to be tolerated.  

This was the only social outing we had as a congregation in the about six years we studied with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Our social company was to be enjoyed in a new paradise earth – till then it was study the bible together and save as many people as possible before the end of this world. The apocalypse was coming, maybe tomorrow, so prepare for it. Pick up the bible, put down that racket. You could not waste several hours.

The homeschooling experience and isolation caused by Jehovah’s Witnesses insistence that children outside the faith are “bad associations that spoil useful habits” robs a childhood. Being told Satan uses other people to tempt you to leave the faith means you never switch off, Jehovah must be with you at all times. 

Even now what I write would be dismissed as that of an apostate trying to stop people seeing the light which Jehovah’s Witnesses want to share. One that should be dimmed by their failed prophesising that the people who saw the events of 1914 would be alive to see the end of the world. Apparently this does not make them false prophets that the bible warns about; it’s just more light they have now to share! They say it with a straight face while they ban children from reading books and playing games. 

Leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses two things helped me find a social group, giving a sense of personal fulfilment having binged on spiritual food for so long. Becoming chess captain having gone back to school and playing LTA tennis club tournaments as a junior. 

Serena Williams is not just exceptional. Her experience studying with the Jehovah’s Witnesses is an exception. Children need to be encouraged to play sports, not told that they risk undermining their salvation and perishing forever in the coming apocalypse if they do anything but read and learn about the bible.

This is child abuse – and it needs to be called out as such without the collusion of society that tolerates the social isolation of children because of religion. 

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

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England’s Sexist Tweet On Women’s World Cup Performance

The England Squad for the World Cup, ranked 6th in the world, came third. It is the best result by a football squad since 1966. The Lionesses have done us proud. The backstory for many of them have been inspirational. Fara Williams, who was homeless for six years, but still pursued her goal to be a professional footballer. Katie Chapman who was dropped by the FA because she wanted time off to look after her children, but did not let them stop her. Casey Stoney as captain coming out as gay. Among the ranks: lawyers, business owners – professionals on the field of play and off.

The official England twitter account did not reflect that at all when they prepared to go back home.

Embedded image permalink

A patronising, sexist and undermining tweet or a reflection that after fifty days intensive coaching, training and playing they would be reunited with loved ones?  Twitter has been full of derision mostly reacting to the tweet as the former, and the tweet was deleted. However, I wanted to focus on one exchange which caught my eye.


Ricky Block (name a giveaway for a troll account) was called out for their language and views:



Achievements are to be celebrated, heroes are to be congratulated, loud mouth bullies taken down. No doubt the team will enjoy spending more time with their loved ones now the tournament is over. Just take care how you tweet these things, without being patronising at best, sexist at worst.

Perhaps one day we will win the world cup.

Maybe when we do, it will matter that it is England – not whether it was the men or the women.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

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Cricket For A Dysfunctional Kid


Our previous junior school headmaster had just retired to tend sheep on Welsh hills. With his retirement went some memories, like his consternation when I set him up to play chess against a spectrum computer and his revenge game against me.

That memory as a child was stronger then when he called me over during break time to see my mother who had been inexplicably missing for a few weeks. I asked how my disabled brother was, and why she was not at home with me and Dad. Her tears and sobs are the only answer I remember. Not realising by law my headmaster had said she could not take me away earlier but he wanted to give her a chance to see me.

Divorce would soon answer my question and reunite me with my brother and mother. The headmaster kept a distant eye before he moved on to another flock to watch. The only child with divorced parents and a disabled brother stuck out even more now.

I wanted something else to be remembered for – a brief moment of glory.

New Batting Order


The only significant sporting prowess I had was playing poker dice. Called to the outgoing headmasters study one final time we assured we were not gambling. The idea to do so was now put in our heads – what had just been fun became a serious racket involving sweets, football stickers and whatever else kids valued with no currency in the materialistic world beyond the playground.

The new headmaster was determined to make his mark on us young ruffians early – and he started with forming a cricket team. The only state junior school cricket team in Hampshire.

Straight to the library I thumbed quickly through Geoffrey Boycott’s book which in each corner showed you how to play a different batting stroke as a moving image as you flicked the pages quickly down – genius idea. None of us played cricket – there was a level playing field to be had and I wanted an inside edge.

I tried out but did not make the final twelve (that will be explained). Dejected I remember during PE seeing the team practise on a lower playground while we played football on a higher one – where no glory was to be had as bigger menacing boys dominated and a win for me was not being injured in a no referee game. My job was to retrieve the ball whacked down the hill miles down to the lower playground. Sums up my abilities and instinct for survival.

Retrieving such a ball that day, one of the cricket team came over. One of their number was ill and the lads, most of whom I had turned into degenerate gamblers, had persuaded the headmaster to include me.

That vote of confidence did something, and after only two weeks of any of us playing cricket we had our first game on that lower playing ground. Each batting pair had three overs and rather than being out you had six runs deducted from the teams score – hence 12 players. My father came to see my first game, his first visit since the divorce.

To the crease as last pair I realised no one was behind the wicket keeper – plus the bowls were to my eyes slow. So much so on each ball I moved to the side and twisted smacking the ball directly behind. Once they started putting three people behind the field opened up for me and my batting partner Justine (only girl playing that day) to score. We were not the highest, but the tactic worked for us to score more.

However, the experience of the other side soon showed with less wild hits, and controlled stroke play. It came to the last over, the last ball.

The pressure got to the batsman and he scuffed the ball into the higher reaches of space where the gods themselves decided it should be sent from an almighty height hurtling down towards little me.

Watching a cricket ball that looks like a full stop in the sky coming towards you when you are eight – the potential pain is nothing compared to the ignominy if you miss it. Yet I met my first moment of transcendence in my life. I knew I was going to catch that ball.

Which must have concerned my team mates – because I only had one eye. From birth my left eye had been partially closed. Looking into the sky it would completely close and tear up.

I kept my eye on the ball as I walked backwards, slow steps to keep my balance. There was no doubt in my mind I might have lacked the perception to catch this ball, that my team mates would blame me for losing our first game, that the parents would forbid their children socialising with such a dysfunctional kid.

Head raised to heaven, both wrists in front of my mouth the cricket ball became a red beach ball as it crashed into my hands. It stayed there. I heard cheers and saw blurred shapes rushing towards me.

For my right eye had joined in with my left for a different reason to cry as reality rushed back into my consciousness all at once.


Like Tom Holland in his Financial Times article on cricket and practising with Alistair Cook I have had youngsters take me out for a duck; at family get togethers.

That does not matter – because for one brief moment of glory I was one with the cricketing gods. And for us incompetents those moments matter more than all the trophies in the world.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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My Huffington Post Blog

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OJ behind bars

Finally OJ Simpson ends up behind bars for up to 15 years. The former Buffalo Bills player was, with others, attempting an armed robber to take property associated with his football career. From, in his own words, “friends”.

Judge Glass refused bail; no doubt the car chase so many years ago uppermost in his mind. The man, forced to pay compensation for a double homicide he was aquited of in court, has finally had justice served as he cried for mercy while not taking responsibility for his actions.

Small beer for the Goldman and Brown family that a person’s sporting past finally leads them to a crime they can be held to account.

The ghosts of the past though may rest a little easier, 13 years to the day he walked free from their murder.

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Paralympics shambles

David Wear when the Gold Medal was his

David Wear when the Gold Medal was his

First off, I do not watch the Paralympics and was bloody annoyed that the BBC were showing it and not Andy Murray in the US Open final. Instead I had to  listen to it on Radio 5.

I still want the British Team to do well, and for the games to be conducted fairly. However, two contests that Brits won medals in have had to be rerun due to administrative errors. Weir for example won Gold, but another competitor was allocated the wrong lane and the race has to be done again.

Through no fault of your own you win Gold, and then it is taken away. I only hope he can recover to win it again.


He did win it (again!). Way to go Dave!

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Federer just too good for Murray in US Open Final

Federer celebrates

Federer celebrates

6-2 7-5 6-2, in just under two hours Roger Federer won his first Grand Slam of the year, and is now one away from equalling Pete Sampras’ total haul of 14. He does become the first person to have won two Grand Slams five years running. Quite simply Murray was outplayed by a contender for the best tennis player in the history of the game; though he did fight back to prevent a white wash in the third set.

“It definitely feels great,” said Federer afterwards. “This is a very special moment in my career.

“I had a couple of tough Grand Slams this year, finishing in semi-finals and two finals, one epic at Wimbledon.

“So to take this one home is incredible. It means the world to me.”

I had a great tournament but I came up against, in my opinion, the best player ever to play the game today
Andy Murray

He added: “I’m not going to stop at 13 – that would be terrible! I congratulate Andy – he’s done great these last two weeks. I’m sure we’re going to see a lot more of him in the future.”

Murray – the best days are yet to come.

Quotes from BBC report here.


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Andy Murray – in the US Open Final

Murray roars into the final

Once again Brits perform better away from Wimbledon, as Andy Murray defeats the world No. 1 Rafael Nadal in four sets, 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-4 to get to the US Open Final. Greg Rusedski managed to get to the US Open Final in 1997 (yes Canadians I know we tempted him away from you to play for us) before being defeated by Pat Rafter. Murray has also equalled Tim Henman’s highest ranking of World Number 4.

The excitment though is that Murray has beaten the best player in the world in a Grand Slam – something neither of the brits before managed. However, there is the rather small matter of beating Roger Federer – who no doubt will take his last chance of winning a slam this year with all the force that the greatest player in the game entails.

Match fitness seems to have been the edge in the semis, and if Murray can use that to his advantage and not be overawed he has a chance. The rain, which has played it’s part, has meant the game being played 10pm BST today.

[EDIT: Final can be found here]

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