Saturday, 14 May 2011

The Tony Soprano Paradox

Five years after he left our screens, Tony's presence is still being felt in the world of sports.
Forget salary caps, concussion rules, lockouts, PEDs and heavy workloads during rep footy season - the single greatest factor influencing your team's results every weekend is the Tony Soprano Paradox. 
Doesn't it seem astonishing that after countless acts of murder, assault, extortion, torture, illegal gambling, drug trafficking and money laundering, the only thing the feds ever arrested Tony for was giving his ailing mother a stolen airline ticket? For whatever reason, the authorities just couldn't punish him for anything. Well, the same applies to sports; some teams can proverbially 'get away with murder'.

For a team or individual to benefit from the Tony Soprano Paradox, they must exhibit the following characteristics:
  1. They must be unanimously loathed by everyone other than their own fans. Was there a single Sopranos character who at one point during the seven years didn't hate Tony's guts? Even his own mother and uncle conspired to have him clipped!
  2. They must possess a great amount of money and power, obtained through slightly shady means. While sports team officials may not carry money-filled duffel bags and collect payments like this, whether we like it or not the mere thought of a powerful and cashed-up team is intimidating.
  3. They must be inexplicably popular with attractive women. There is no way the balding, 300lb, two-chinned Tony is landing Irina, Gloria, Valentina and Christopher's stunning Vegas mistress without some supernatural forces at play.
With these elements in mind, let's look at a detailed case study of the Tony Soprano Paradox influencing one of the most popular sporting leagues in the world:

Case Study - Chelsea F.C
If we examine Chelsea's last two English Premier League games, it appears Carlo Ancelotti's men have been even luckier than a peyote-fueled Tony at the roulette table. At White Hart Lane three weeks ago, both goals Chelsea "scored" were riddled with controversy; the first is likely to challenge Frank Lampard's disallowed goal against Germany at the 2010 World Cup as Exhibit A in the argument for goal line technology reviews. Forty four minutes later, Salomon Kalou kicked the winner from a position so offside that it could have been flagged by Stevey Wonder. Wearing a blindfold. In a blizzard. At Old Trafford a week later, referee Howard Webb refused to send-off an already warned Branislav Ivanovic after at least two clear-cut professional fouls, and must have been preening in his Escalade with a cuban cigar while Lampard handled Antonio Valencia's cross in the penalty box. Are these examples just innocent evidence of Chelsea experiencing a very, very fortunate run at the roulette table, or is the spirit of Tony Soprano living on in West London? Let's look at the criteria:

Criteria #1: Stamford Bridge is a fortress for away teams thanks to Chelsea's passionate fans, but to others there is arguably no sports team in the world with more philanderers, divers and generally unlikeable characters. Think John Terry, Ashley Cole, Lampard, Didier Drogba, John Obi Mikel, Nicolas Anelka, Fernando Torres and Ivanovic; in other words, Russell Hantz is more popular with a Survivor jury than this lot is with the general public.

(We're one from one, let's move on to Criteria 2)

Criteria #2: Owned by the entertaining Russian oil tycoon Roman Abramovich, who has been allegedly involved in various wrongdoings such as blackmail and loan-fraud.

(I'd rather throw a drink at Ron Artest than get on Abramovich's bad side. Two from two.)

Criteria #3: Some examples of female Chelsea fans include Sienna Miller, Tara Reid, Danni Minogue, Geri Halliwell and, once-upon-a-time the lovely Cheryl Cole.

As long as we're talking Tara Reid circa 1999, thats a perfect three from three! So rest easy, EPL fans - once the Tony Soprano Paradox takes effect, you are essentially like one of the women the big guy sets his eye on... powerless.

Other Examples of the Tony Soprano Paradox
Here are a few more cases of the Tony Soprano Paradox around the world:
  • The 2010-11 Miami Heat: Hated after The Decision (in which Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh may have illegally conspired to play on the same team way back in 2008) and Welcome Party, yet somehow were awarded 38 free throws to Boston's 20 in Game 5. In fact, Wade and Bosh alone shot more free throws than Boston's entire team!
  • The Sydney Roosters: Silver-tails of the NRL, and never get punished for their numerous off-field indiscretions in recent times like other clubs are. Why was Todd Carney de-registered by the NRL when he was playing for Canberra, yet on his fourth 'last warning' at the Roosters, the NRL did nothing?
  • The Indian Cricket Team: Have all the power and influence in world cricket, and as the farcical 2008 tour of Australia showed, rival cricket boards will weaken at the knees like a Rolling Stones groupie to comply with their every demand.
  • The St George Illawarra Dragons: Is there a more powerful figure in rugby league at the moment than Wayne Bennett?
  • FC Barcelona: Jose Mourinho even perfectly described the Tony Soprano Paradox in his now infamous post Champions League press-conference.
So next time you want to bag the referees/umpires over a poor performance against your team, check to see if the opposition display the three characteristics of the Tony Soprano Paradox. Then all you can do is just sit back like Bobby Bacala and think 'Quasimodo predicted all of this'.


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