Lights Out for Hamburg Handball Team

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Hamburg SV leaves German Handball Bundesliga because of Concourse and License Revocation. Legal Action expected.

HAMBURG- There is an old saying that describes the mentality of the European sports leagues: “Money makes the world go round.” If there is no money to operate a team, the team folds. Teams go up and down the elevator model, where promotion to higher tiered leagues and demotion lower tiered leagues are not only based on the performance of the players, but also the financial health of the club. If one puts the American basketball team the Philadelphia 76ers in the equation, that team would have folded by now. The fortunate part is in case of hard times like the basketball team is going through, the league steps in to take ownership, reshape the club and look for a new owner to replace the one ousted for the inability to operate the team properly, especially in financial terms.

For the German professional handball team, Hamburger SV, the management is probably wishing that the American model was in place right now. The HSV has shut down operations this evening after receiving word on Wednesday that the team has lost its license to compete in the Premere League for the rest of the season. Furthermore, they will not be allowed to apply for the first or second tiers of the Bundesliga, thus putting them in the local league. The reason behind this was a snowball effect which has been in the making for well over a year. It started with a deficit, followed by the withdrawl of the main sponsor Andreas Rudolph, who had promised to invest 2.5 million Euros ($3.3 million) into the team, according to information from German public radio station NDR. The team was unable to come up with 2 million Euros at the end of the first half of the season. As a consequence, HSV filed for bankruptcy in December due to not enough liquidity to finance the remaining games of the season and the players. The German Handball Bundesliga revoked its license on Wednesday as a consequence, and the reaction was enormous. While almost all of the players have left the team, the revocation and as a result, the decision to shut down the Premere League team today will have negative repercussions on the league, as many teams hosting HSV in the second half of the season will have to recall the tickets, resulting in massive losses. Some of the teams, including Berlin, Minden and even Flensburg are considering legal actions against the now defunct team, demanding compensation for damages.

Hamburg’s demise is not the first in German or even American sports. Its exit from the top league is the first in handball since 1990. Yet its fall from grace is the first in German sports since the soccer teams of Kickers Offenbach and Dynamo Dresden. Offenbach was delegated to the regional league from the 3rd tier of the Bundesliga after the 2013/14 season for insufficient funding to continue in the upcoming season. Yet the last fall from the top came in 1995, when the German Soccer Federation denied the request of Dynamo Dresden to play in the 1st and 2nd league, thus forcing the eastern Saxony team to play in the regional league. That team is currently in first place in the 3rd League and is knocking on the door to its return to the 2nd League for the first time since 2014. On the American front, most of the teams folding due to financial issues came in the women’s basketball league, WNBA. The last casualty was the Sacramento Monarchs in California, where despite winning the WNBA championship in 2005, the team disbanded in 2009.

However, like this team as well as the Cleveland Browns in American football (which went on hiatus from 1996-99), handball in Hamburg will eventually return to national stage. While the Premere League team, which won the Bundesliga championship in 2011 and the Champions League in 2013, is officially disbanded, despite its current 4th place finish, HSV’s junior team is making its way to the third tier in the handball food chain with its lead in the state league standings. Because the HSV sports organization will not be affected by the sudden destruction of the Premere League handball  team, the junior team will have a chance to fill in the footsteps of the fallen dinosaur. If successful and if management can build a fan base and good sponsorship from companies in the free city, chances are that handball will return to national stage before 2020. It is highly unlikely that despite the potential legal actions, HSV will disappear and not return, like it happened to Saxony Leipzig in 2012. It would be too cruel to the city of nearly 2 million that has a popular Bundesliga soccer team. It will just be a few years before handball returns to national stage, and with that, a bigger fan base that will stay loyal until the very end. Just ask the fans of the Cleveland Browns, let alone the people in Sacramento, who are working to bring back the Monarchs to women’s basketball. 🙂

 

For more on the latest with HSV, please follow NDR whose link is here.

 

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Year of the Beer Day 17: Pilsner Urquelle

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Author’s Note: While the Urquelle was tasted on 17 January, 2016, the article is a bit late to allow the readers to complete the Guessing Quiz, which you can see here. This article will feature the answers to the history of the Pilsner.

The pilsner. While beer has been popular since 9500 BC, according to record, the pilsner beer is one of the youngest brands that has existed. First brewed in the mid-1800s, the pilsner was first crafted in response to the need for a beer that is filtered and has a clear color. Prior to that, the beer was top-fermented, creating a dark color but also poor quality. That changed in 1842, when the first batch was introduced. Since then, the pilsner has become one of the most popular beer brands in the world, where almost every brewery has crafted a pilsner. This includes those in Germany, some of which will be tasted in the series.

A week ago I introduced a Guessing Quiz on the origin of the pilsner, and in particular, this beer: The Pilsner Urquelle. I feel before introducing my taste-testing article on the beer that the answers should be given to provide the reader with a little history on it. So without further ado, let’s have a look at the answers and some facts:

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  1. Pilsner beer originated from the town of Pilsen. True or False?   ANS: TRUE. The town of Pilsen first introduced the pilsner to the public on 5 October, 1842.
  2. It was located in Germany in the state of Schlesia. True or False?  ANS:  FALSE.  Pilsen is located in the Czech Republic in what used to be called Bohemia. Prior to 1918, Bohemia was part of the Austro-Hungarian (Habsburg) Empire. The only time it was part of Germany was when Adolf Hitler completed the conquest of Czechoslovakia in 1938. Germany held that region until 1945.  Otherwise it has been under Czech Rule ever since, counting the Velvet Divorce in 1993.
  3. The beer that made the pilsner famous no longer exists. True or False?  ANS: FALSE. Since its introduction in 1842, the Urquelle has been brewing and selling beer to much of Europe. This despite the fact that it is now owned by SAB Miller.
  4. The inventor of the pilsner originated from Saxony. True or False?  ANS: FALSE.  Josef Groll, a Bavarian from Vilshofen, was commissioned to improve the quality of the beer in 1840. Little did he realized that he invented the pilsner two years later.
  5. Michelob beer in the USA has a pilsner brand.  True or False?  ANS: FALSE. Even though many American beers, like Coors, Pabst and Grain Belt craft pilsners (or similar), Michelob produces only lagers, ales and draft beers.
  6. ….and so does Radeberger in Germany.  True or False?  ANS: TRUE, and I have that on my beer to taste list- so, later…. 😉
  7. What is the most important ingredients of a pilsner?  ANS: the hops. When first produced in 1842, the Saaz hops was used for flavor and aromatic purposes. It is still used for the Urquelle today. As the water is hard, most German beers in the northern half use citrus-hops in larger quantities than those in the southern half, where the water is soft. Most hops are either herbal or citrus like, which creates a bitter taste.
  8. What constitutes an Ur-Pils? What is the difference between that and the original pilsner?  Ur means original, and while there is no information on the real difference between the Ur-Pils and the Pils, one can speculate that the Ur-Pils is brewed traditionally, which means top-fermentation and in open barrels, thus leaving it unpasturized and unfiltered, whereas pilsners are fermented in tanks and filtered, giving a clear appearance when pouring it.
  9. What is understood as an Öko-bier (organic beer)? ANS: An organic (or bio) beer is produced using grain and barley that are untreated and not sprayed with pesticides, and the beer is crafted using ingredients that are natural.

More information on the pilsner will come as the beers are being drunk and tasted.

But looking at the Pilsner Urquelle, one can see that the beer still has its charactristic pilsner taste and appearance. The Ur-quelle has its original appearance of it being unfiltered and unpasturized, presenting a cloudy, amber color. Its head is great, carbonization is lively and the body has a medium appearance. Part of it has to do with the soft water that is common and being used to this day for crafting purposes. Both the aroma and flavor have a strong intensity, whose balance is between good and sharp. The main ingredients are grain and nut malt as well as herbal and some citrus hops. The beer had a great freshness and upon drinking it, one can tell that the craftsmanship is great, thus receiving high ratings on the part of the author.

Grade: 1,3/ A: The Pilsner Urquelle still keeps brewing its pilsner, and it should do that, as the beer has set an example for other beers to follow, and sometimes experiment, What used to be unfiltered beer with poor quality that had to be dumped, the Pilsner Urquelle has remained the focal point and basis for a typical pilsner (or in this case, ur-pils) that a person should try while in Germany. While the Urquelle is difficult to find in stores in Germany, it is worth looking for while in Germany. And once you taste it, you have Josef Groll to thank! 🙂 <3

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In School in Germany: How to Live in Co-existence

The other day, as I was heading to lunch, I happened to find a rather interesting flyer on one of the tables in the cafeteria. Apart from the organization’s purpose of recruiting new people, the question was quite simple. Have a look:

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In the time where many people from these groups are looked down upon because of their appearance, profession, socio-economic and cultural background, intelligence, psychological forthcomings, nationality and personality, we really need to ask ourselves how we are treating them: specifically, how our actions and words have hurt the other one, how we interact towards them, how much knowledge we have on the person and his/her background, how we can solve conflicts of interest and find compromises to bring ourselves to the middle,….

and lastly, how we can find a peaceful co-existence? What does the other one want and what do we want? How can we find the middle and get along, at least?

Therefore, I would like to ask you to think about the following questions and ask yourself:

  1. How do you usually interact with someone you have never met before?
  2. What efforts do you undertake to get to know the person?
  3. Would you learn about the person’s background and culture?
  4. Were you ever in a conflict with that person and how did you solve it?
  5. Did you ever break off ties with the person and if so why?  Do you regret it?
  6. Have you worked in organizations and/or with groups of people of similar features as the person you encountered?
  7. If the person or another person of a similar background would be in trouble, would you provide help or look away?

Even better is when you choose one group and an experience you had with a person(s) from that group and share that with your partner in class. This way you can exchangvarious be your thoughts and ideas, as well as come up with solutions to the probelems you experienced. Through this form of communication and exchange, you can sometimes find that your actions towards a person of a different culture may be be responded differently and cause potential misunderstanding. But when talking about it with someone or joining a club one will get a wider perspective and henceforth will eliminate some of the barriers that had existed before. In many cases, when interacting with a person from a different culture or with a different background, by offering your hand in help and peace in exchange with that of the other makes a big difference when it comes to clearing any misunderstandings that had occurred before.

To close, there is one quote to keep in mind and that is this: How can we deal with people of various backgrounds?  We can be as ignorant as Donald Trump, who chooses to follow Adolf Hitler in his quest to cleanse the US of all Muslims, while getting the weak and ignorant to follow him. Or we can go our own way and be like Hans Küng, who believed that the best solution to all cultural conflict is dialog and openness. While politics is all about running a system dependent on money, this system is run by the people. And it is we  the people, who  have a say in how we run our lives and befriend those who want to befriend us.

 

 

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Genre of the Week: Do It Anyway by Robert Griffith III

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Photo by Robert Klemko

This Genre of the Week starts off with two ironic comments: Respect is earned through hard word, however there are times when your efforts are fruitless, and the best solution to win happiness is to move to greener pastures. Sometimes when people commit errors, people disregard it, saying “Shit happens. You’ll do better next time.” While others, obsessed with perfection, discard the person for one small mistake because he/she is not perfect.

In the case of Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffith III, he fell into the category of the latter on both counts. Once the darling of the football organization when drafted in 2012 due to his athleticism and speed (as seen in the video example below), he is now on his way out of the organization, heading to another one- or even a different future. After a severe knee injury at the end of the 2012 season, he struggled under pressure from the players, coaching staff and the fans, being scrutiinized for one small error after another, until he was benched for all of the 2015/16 season. After Washington’s playoff loss to Green Bay, RGIII packed up his belongings and headed out the door- for the last time. However, he left this note, a poem based on one written by Kent W. Keith entitled The Paradoxical Commandments, showing humbleness and encouragement to his teammates. It’s opposite of bitterness, which many people react to, and more like leaving a mark at an organization that no longer has no place for him. If this is a way of saying good-bye, it is one of class, and one for others to follow when they feel down and have the need to move on.

And for that, this is the Genre of the Week with one comment to RGIII: Good luck in your future endeavors. You’ll find a perfect home to prosper as a player and develop further as a man of morals. It can only go uphill from there……

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New Ulm, Minnesota

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What constitutes a German town in the United States? What architectural features should it have, in order for the town to be “German”? How much of the German language should the town possess? Does the town have to be settled by German immigrants in order for it to be typically German, or does it take one or more persons from a non-German country to take a German name and adopt it? How does heritage play a role in creating a community- what German festivals exists or used to exist in a community? And can a German town survive the changes occuring inside American society by keeping its identity or must the town shed its culture in order to integrate into the melting pot that is predominantly British, Irish, Italian and eastern European (at least in the regions of the Midwest and east of the Mississippi River)?

In my visit to the German villages in Minnesota, I learned that despite the establishments of villages named after German towns, like the usual likes of Hamburg, Cologne, New Munich and Fulda, there is not much German heritage left, for they even disappeared before 1920 because of either the campaign to eliminate German-American culture thanks to American involvement in World War I, the poor logistical locations- many of them didn’t even have a railroad line or had one that had existed for only a short period- or there were either a few German settlers who left for better job possibilities, only for the village to be taken over by settlers of other origins. One can see this with the typical American street and architectural settings, especially in the business district, as seen with New Germany for example:

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While most towns are built on street grids, what is expected from a German community in America is architecture and artistry created by local people either originating from Germany or whose first generation were immigrants. They should have cultural events that are typical of their German heritage, and lastly, there should be traces of German language and literature in schools, at public events and even at home. Even having German classes in school classifies as an example of efforts being undertaken to keep the German heritage in the community. 🙂

And this is why we are looking at the city of New Ulm in the southern part of Minnesota. A little history to go along with the city of 13,300 inhabitants that also is the county seat of Brown County (County is the same as Landkreis, which makes county seat the Kreisstadt in German):

In 1851, a treaty at Traverse des Sioux was signed between the Sioux Indians and the white settlers, allowing the lands south and west of the Minnesota River to be given to the white settlers, and the native Americans were given plots of land north of the Minnesota to live. Three years later, a group of scouts from the Chicago Land Society explored and claimed the region where the Minnesota and Cottonwood Rivers met, and considered the area home. These were German settlers, consisting of Alois Palmer, Frank Massopust, Frederick Beinhorn, Athanesius Henle and Christian Ludwig Meyer. On October 7th, 1854, the name New Ulm was given to the land. The name was decided upon because many settlers who (later) followed the scouts to the region were from the cities of Ulm and Neu-Ulm in Baden Wurttemberg and Bavaria, respectively. Among the numbers of settlers coming to New Ulm were members of the liberal political group, the Turner Society, who were banished from Europe after the Revolution of 1848. By 1860, over 600 people had settled in New Ulm- almost all of them along the area north of the Cottonwood River and west of the Minnesota River.

TO READ MORE ON NEW ULM, CLICK HERE! A QUIZ ON NEW ULM CAN BE FOUND HERE AND THE ANSWERS HERE! 

 

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Author’s note: The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles released two articles on the bridges of New Ulm and Ulm. Click on the names and have a look at their history. Both of them are candidates of the 2015 Ammann Awards, which are being voted on now.