Only Rich Countries Should Host the World Cup

World Cup

The World Cup is the greatest sporting event in the world. Every four years, each earthling makes the small migration to the nearest television to watch the newest crop of soccer stars square off against each other. It is terrific because everyone decides to care about this epic tournament and that level of unity is usually reserved for World Wars. It is conversation common ground for the entire planet.

The dazzling speed, improvised collaboration, and burning passion of soccer players reaches new heights every four years. There may be more super-clubs in the LigaBBVA or the Barclays Premier League, but the World Cup offers each nation at least a puncher’s chance to compete. Each match is important because even less storied nations can tap into some upset magic on the world’s biggest stage.

It’s an unpredictable drama. In the last cup, who could forget Spain’s surprise early exit, James Rodriguez’s rocket to stardom, or Germany’s systematic dismantling of BrazilThe World Cup combines sublime talent, classic moments, and all the world’s cultures to create this perfect sporting extravaganza. It’s the best.  

However, the one problem with the World Cup is that it is tremendously expensive. The last World Cup cost Brazil a tidy 14 billion dollars to build the necessary stadiums and infrastructure to host the event. That’s roughly the entire GDP of Cambodia.

For a country like Brazil with such a high level of civil unrest, poverty, and corruption, it seems that 14 billion dollars could have been better spent on social services, hospitals, and schools instead of a month-long event. There should not be multibillion dollar stadiums within walking distance of slums.

Even worse, these newly crafted stadiums are now almost entirely useless as there are few other occasions that need to house such crowds of people. Although Brazil did a wonderful job of hosting the Cup, the thought of billions wasted on useless stadiums while millions suffer is enough to make anyone a bit uncomfortable.

The World Cup is unquestionably wonderful, but it should not mortgage the future of its host nation. Brazil as wonderful as it is, was not fit to host that last World Cup. It should not have forced its people to choose between the game they love, and their own livelihood.

FIFA recently removed hosting responsibilities from Qatar for the 2022 Cup after nauseating reports surfaced. First, hosting priveleges were essentially bought by Qatari billionaire Mohamed bin Hammam’s well-placed bribes to FIFA officials. Additionally, the stadiums were being built like the Egyptians built the Pyramids, with slave labor and plenty of death. It’s the type of situation we like to imagine no longer exists.

Not to mention, that all this atrociousness was for a World Cup in a sweltering desert country that would have no use for the massive stadiums after the epic tournament as the total population of Qatar is only 2 million or roughly the same as New Mexico. It was a short-sighted, highly suspicious place to host the Cup, but not particularly surprising as FIFA has proved itself more corrupt than Boss Tweed.

FIFA officials obviously need to be less nefarious, but also choose countries that make sense to host the Cup. The World Cup should only be hosted in nations that can absorb the tremendous impact of the event. We need to put it in countries that have proved they are capable of hosting matches of this scale like England, America, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, or any other nation with at least some existing infrastructure to handle the Cup.

As much pride as hosting the World Cup can bring to a nation, it is not fair to put that responsibility on a country that has to sabotage itself to host it.

In 2018, Russia hosts the World Cup and should do fine as their massive GDP can absorb the cost of the tournament and their legendarily large population can find some use for the stadiums after the final whistle is blown. FIFA should choose a similarly situated nation for 2022.

The World Cup is humanity’s greatest party, but even the best party can be ruined by the wrong host.

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The Implications of Russell Westbrook At Fashion Week

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Russell Westbrook is the NBA’s unofficial delegate to Fashion Week in New York City. The velociraptor point guard has been attending shows and hobnobbing with designers all week. Westbrook attended the style extravaganza in the past, but now he stands among the fashion elite as a peer instead of a fan.

In the last year, the flamboyant point guard has released a collection with Barney’s that includes his extensive array of glasses frames as well as articles like a 1,750 dollar leather shirt, shoes, luggage. His collection samples the unconventional, intricate patterns of elephant skin, tight cuts, and black contrasting with bold colors, giving an undeniable hipness to his style.

Westbrook’s foray into fashion is a departure from the off-the-court creative ventures of NBA players in the past. Usually when ballers fancy themselves as artists, they choose Hip-Hop as their medium. But as Kobe, Steve Francis, and Chris Webber have reminded us, that rarely works out. Shaq is the only moderate success and he needed not only his rarely paralleled worldwide fame, but also help from RZA, Ice Cube, and Biggie to produce one platinum and one gold album.

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Russell’s designing follows O’Neal’s most successful Hip-Hop attempts (Shaq had unpopular follow-ups) in that he has sought advice from big names in fashion. Here he is with Tim Coppens scrutinizing Coppen’s most recent additions to his collection. Here he is posing with Phillip Lim at a show. Here he is with Alejandro Ingelmo studying footwear. While these names are unknown to folks perusing the sales rack, these men are prolific modern designers. The fact they are spending time with Westbrook implies both sides take each other seriously. 

Westbrook’s designing offers an interesting glimpse into what he may do for post-career prosperity. Most NBA players either lose their cash investing in their uncle Richie’s “can’t miss” business proposals, or cultivate mini-empires like Magic Johnson with his vast L.A. Real Estate holdings.

Westbrook’s designs could one day become a successful fashion line. His brand would parallel Michael Jordan’s self-entitled megabrand, but considering the fashion taste of the GOAT, Jordan appears to outsource designing and rely on his name-recognition to move product. Westbrook using his own creativity to generate looks not just for the court, but for all aspects of life, would be unprecedented. It is just the sort of bold and fascinating choice a young, rich, and famous man can make.

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C’mon Mike

There is really no comparison.

Killing it.

Westbrook would have likely never become a fashion name if not for a slightly racist dress code policy passed by former NBA commissioner David Stern that banned the Hip-Hop style of the NBA of the early 2000s. After the artist formerly known as Ron Artest orchestrated the Malice in the Palace, the league sought to change its developing “thug” image by requiring “business casual” pregame attire. The dress code is a decade old and Russell Westbrook has become the Allen Iverson of this shift from gilded gaudiness to top-flight designer fashion.

NBA players are in a unique position become fashion icons. They are paid millions to play an internationally popular sport that does not hide their faces and personalities underneath helmets and hats. Their unique combination of fame, wealth, and visibility often makes their style the topic of national conversation. With the considerable attention paid to their attire, NBA players influence fashion just by existing, Westbrook is merely taking an active role in shaping the culture. 

Westbrook’s fashion confronts stereotypes about his identity as a black male. He has reappropriated classic articles of white nerdy fashion like high button-ups, bow ties, and glasses into his modern black fashion. Westbrook has made it unclear if he is dressing “white,” or if the adolescent fans emulating his style are dressing “black.” In an ironic twist, the dress code has not made black players “whiter,” but instead made white style “blacker.”

With his fondness for tight cuts, jumpsuits, and capris, Westbrook also takes on masculine norms of fashion. Obviously, straight men typically do not dress like Westbrook, but it’s near impossible to find a less feminine body than the intense, hyper-muscular all-star point guard. The dress code was misguided, but it has killed the “criminal” image of NBA players and made them cultural shifters. 

Westbrook’s atypical style not only puts him at the cutting edge of fashion, but also bridges the gap between two of the most stark divisions in American society. His presence at Fashion Week is not just an NBA player rubbing elbows with high society, it is a beginning step to blur the lines between black and white, and gay and straight.