"SEXY football" is back!
A decade-and-a-half since Ruud Gullit combined soccer and shagging for linguistic effect, German club Hannover 96 have moved things along a bit.
Coach Mirko Slomka wants his players to fill out a survey explaining all their sexual desires. The theory being that if he knows what they're into in the sack, he can better coach them on the field.
Says Slomka: "With this test, I know how I can best reach each player."
Whether "reach" is some sort of teutonic euphemism for groping is unclear. But to be fair, the coach has himself completed the 128-question survey and says the players are free to see his responses.
It seems a very ambitious project - these are Germans after all, will 128 questions on their sexual preferences be enough?
Rooting for Hannover II
In the psychological test, players have to rate their response to the following statements: "I am what you could call sexually unrestrained"; "I want any sex I can get" or "I have a lot of erotic fantasies".
Seventh in the Bundesliga, Hannover 69 - sorry - Hannover 96, say the players participation is strictly voluntary.
Still, the club's motivation consultant Peter Boltersdorf has high hopes for the survey. "Each player needs different conditions to perform at his best over a long period." (Cough, cough...)
"Every player should have the feeling that his individuality is being considered."
Backhand compliment I
Darren writes to ask what is the split between ATP Tour players using one and two-handed backhands.
We're glad you ask, Darren.
Of those profiled in the ATP Tour 2012 Media Guide, 94 hit with two hands on the backhand side, just 38 with one.
Backhand compliment II
The difference is even more stark on the women's side, with just seven players profiled using one hand as opposed to 104 using the two-fisted technique.
Cannot be serious I
The Heineken Open has a total prize pool of $500,000 (measured in Pacific pesos), with the winner taking away $91,000. Which is barely enough to buy a decent round of tapas and a good bottle of rioja on Las Ramblas in these cash-strapped times.
The ASB Classic delivers an even less lucrative payday - $276,000 for the total pool with $46,500 of that going to winner Zheng Jie.
But don't go throwing coins to the impoverished darlings of world tennis anytime soon. Word of the Global Financial Thingymajig is yet to reach Melbourne, where the most lucrative tennis tournament in history kicks off on Monday.
Singles winners at the Australian Open walk away with $2,975,000 each. The total prize pool is $32,500,000.
Cannot be serious II
So are the players creaming it? Not entirely. The big names are still taking out far less than they generate. Nick Harris on the excellent Sporting Intelligence website points out that the total prize funds at Grand Slams (where the rewards are richest) are around 12 to 13 per cent of tournament revenue. At last year's Wimbledon, for instance, the total prize fund was $28 million, with the tournament's earnings estimated at around $230 million. So Rafa's not the only one with a big cheque.
Cannot be serious III
Other athletes do better.
In the NFL, the helmet-wearers take home 48 per cent of revenues, while NBA basketballers recently got knocked down from 57 per cent to 50 per cent.
For the benchmark of payday barminess, it's perhaps no surprise that the name Mario Balotelli appears on the payroll. At Manchester City, the wages are 106.25 per cent of revenue, meaning their entire operation brings in $240 million, while the players take home $255 million.
Mates, we're in the wrong businesses.
They said it:
"Roberto Martinez could be the greatest coach in the world at Wigan, but he's not going to win the league."
- Spurs manager Harry Redknapp on the importance of cash in running top soccer sides.
"I like to start off in the morning with a urine test - testing the nutritional value of breakfast, that kind of thing."
- West Ham gaffer 'Big' Sam Allardyce starts the day by taking the piss.
"It is the situation that existed many years ago with Paul Gascoigne. We have seen the good stuff today [in the 3-2 defeat of City]. There is no problem with the boy's temperament at all. It is just off the field he is going to be spotlighted all the time."
- Sir Alex Ferguson compares Manchester United's biggest asset to Gazza. Is that really wise, Sir Al?
"I can never win with English journalists: If I buy a Fiat Uno, I read articles saying I am the type of guy who should be buying a Ferrari. If I choose the Ferrari, they write that I should keep my feet on the ground and buy a Fiat. If I laugh, I am not a serious person. If I don't laugh, I am a rich sulk who can't be motivated to do the most beautiful job in the world."
- Manchester City's Mario Balotelli, SuperShorts Man of the Year for 2011, on the trials and tribulations of being well-known, athletic and a little bit certifiable.
"Nobody is worried about what happened in the past. We are just focusing on the future and the present."
- Pakistan cricket manager Misbah-ul-Haq says there will be no spot-fixing during their series against England.
"What Cristiano [Ronaldo] should do is learn from Lionel Messi, and leave out this cocky attitude. He is the one who creates all the problems, every weekend, and should be penalised ... "
- Veteran Uruguayan striker Walter Pandiani reckons Ronaldo might be a bit full of himself.