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West Fargo Hockey Association aiming high

Amateur sports clubs the world over, as we know, spend a fair chunk of their time trying to come up with ideas to raise funds to keep them going.

Usually it’s a sponsored this, that or t’other, occasionally it’s something rather unique and ingenious, like climbing Carrauntoohil backwards. (That may not have happened yet, but it should, soon).

But quite often it’s a raffle.

The key here, need it be said, is the quality of the prizes.

Well, it’s down the raffle route The West Fargo (Ice) Hockey Association have opted to go, president Cal Helgeson explaining that “with our 20 per cent increase in association members this year, we have a big need for ice”.

Rinks, that is.

The 4,000 tickets for the raffle, which takes place on March 15th, cost $40 each – if you’re interested, they’re available from Scheels on 45th street in Fargo.

What’s on offer?

Well, just the 200 guns. Real ones, like.

Among them, snappily titled products like the Savage Axis Package, the Benelli Super Black Eagle, the Winchester SXP Pump, the Marlin Auto Loader, the Remington Versa Max and the CVA Muzzleloader.

Awkward timimg

“The timing is a little awkward,” conceded West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern, whose city approved the fundraiser, when he spoke to the Huffington Post.

“I think that’s a fair statement to say, given the discussion going on around the country.”

The rules are simple enough. For example “to obtain any firearm the winner must be 18 years old”.

Incidentally, you have to be 21 to purchase or consume alcohol in North Dakota, so at least any under-21-year-old Savage-Axis-Package winners will be stone cold sober when they go out of an evening.

Tickets have been selling well – “THANK YOU AMERICA!!! Thank you for the outstanding nationwide support!!!,” as the association’s website declares – largely because many of the state’s gun stores have been running out of supplies, the natives concerned possible new gun laws, in response to recent shootings, will make them harder to purchase soon enough.

“More difficult ones [to get] are on here, we have secured all of our guns,” Helgeson boasted, “we have a full list.”

Included on that list are three Rock River AR-15 assault weapons which, according to the Huffington Post, “are similar to the Bushmaster AR-15 used in the Sandy Hook attack that killed 20 children”.

Youngest recruits

Children roughly the same age as the youngest recruits to The West Fargo Hockey Association.

When the Founding Fathers came up with that “right to bear arms” Second Amendment, you have to wonder if they had a West Fargo Hockey Association raffle in mind.

Remember that line from the wondrous police chief Marge Gunderson in the film Fargo?

“Oh, I just think I’m gonna barf.”

Golf driving Phelps to Rio

He already has roughly a gazillion Olympic gold medals to his name, but now Michael Phelps is targeting another in Rio – in golf. Well, maybe not, but the retired swimmer is taking the sport rather seriously, signing a deal with Ping to supply his clubs, working with coach Hank Haney for a series on the Golf Channel and competing alongside Bubba Watson in the fantastically Soprano-esque named Waste Management Phoenix Open pro-am this week. “You can’t put limits on anything,” he said. “There’s so much I could do.”

And neither will another of our sporting megastars, Katie Taylor, be troubled about the prospect of meeting a potentially tricky opponent in Rio, now that Australia’s Lauryn Eagle is considering doing a little sport-swapping too.

The newly crowned Australian lightweight champion switched in 2008 to boxing from water-skiing, another sport in which she was a national champion. She admitted, though, after beating Nadine Brown in Sydney, that she’s almost had her fill of boxing, and was considering a new Olympic direction. “I said to myself to put in 100 per cent in this fight and then get out of the sport. It’s not ideal for females. I’m looking at possibly playing rugby sevens [which will debut in Rio] because they are looking for a team. So, who knows,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Murphy feels snookered over Olympic rejection

There are plenty of – largely aggrieved – sports that aren’t included in the Olympics, among them baseball, karate, roller sports, softball, sports climbing, squash, wakeboard and everyone’s favourite, Wushu. But all of them, at least, will be considered for inclusion in the 2020 Games when the IOC meets for a chat in Rio in 2016 – others, like cricket, darts and hurling, are no closer to being considered.

And neither is snooker. And former world champion Shaun Murphy isn’t happy about it, venting on the subject earlier this week. “It’s a total joke we are not in it. I am trying not to be too offensive, but the horses win medals in the dressage? They do all the work.” What you wouldn’t give to see, say, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jimmy White wandering around an Olympic village in their tracksuits.

Taco Bell's anti-veggies spot joins roll call of off-colour TV ads pulled in Super Bowl season

Ads before, during and after the Super Bowl can often generate as much discussion as the game itself, generally good news for companies that pay out quite a few bucks for the honour of promoting their goods during America’s most razzamatazzy sporting event.

For this Sunday’s Super Bowl, 30 second ads cost just under $4 million, double the charge of 10 years ago.

As is often the case, though, the companies whose ads get rejected, for assorted reasons, receive almost as much attention.

Already, Taco Bell, the fast-food Tex-Mex restaurant chain, had to pull an effort aired during the college football Championship, deemed to be offensive to, well, vegetable eaters.

Over footage of a fella bringing tasty veg snacks to a football-on-TV- party, the voice said: “Veggies on game day is like punting at fourth and one. It’s a cop-out, and secretly, people kind of hate you for it.”

Still, slightly less controversial than two of the ads rejected in 2011. One featured aborted fetuses, from anti-choice nutjob Randall Terry, while another promoted JesusHatesObama.com. Jesus wept.

Whistle blower ruins a good bet

There aren’t too many who would sniff at winnings of £17,055.80 from a fairly wild and wacky £3 FA Cup accumulator, but when it might have been considerably more, if not for the toot of a whistle, it’d be hard not to ponder what might have been and then remove your hair strand by strand.

The anonymous British gambler in question appeared to have mislaid the plot when he backed:

Holders Chelsea to draw 2-2 draw with Brentford (18-1); Oldham to beat Liverpool 3-2 (80-1); St Mirren to beat Celtic 3-2 (50-1) and . . .

Leeds to beat Spurs 3-1.

First three predictions? Spookily, spot on.

The last one?

Remember what happened?

Leeds were 2-1 up in injury time, Spurs goalkeeper Brad Friedel charged up field to help the equaliser-seeking efforts, but the ball fell to Leeds’ Rodolph Austin whose shot from the half-way line trickled towards goal.

In a slow-motion kind of way. Finally, it crossed the line.

But, by then, the referee had blown his whistle.

Game over.

Leeds just the 2, Spurs 1.

If he’d waited another second or two? The punter in question would have won . . . £506,562.


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