THE COUCH SLOUCH

Burning questions about how hot it will be at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

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In November 2022 – just a scant three years from now – comes the next World Cup, in Qatar. This will set up one of the extraordinary, epic collisions in recorded human history:

The global game meets global warming.

(I know what you're thinking: Why can't I write about Baker Mayfield shaving his handlebar mustache or LeBron James' triple-double frenzy, or at least preview which nations are favored to win the World Cup? You want that stuff, go subscribe to The Athletic or marry Skip Bayless.)

(Do the words "existential threat" mean anything to you? I have been inspired by the 16-year-old Swede, Greta Thunberg; it's time to get up, get out and shout about something other than College Football Playoff rankings.)

Qatar is hot, baby. And getting hotter.

Temperatures in its capital city, Doha, have risen five degrees since 1962. Earlier this decade, during what can only be described as a particularly unforgiving heat wave, they recorded an all-time high reading of 122.7 degrees.

The average high temperature is Qatar in June and July – when the World Cup is typically played – is 108 degrees; the average low is in the mid 80s.

So, why oh why, we might wonder, would FIFA, soccer's international governing body, grant the World Cup to you-could-cook-an-egg-on-that-soccer-pitch Qatar?

Oh, I know, I know, I know!

$$$$$.

(That's the worldwide symbol for "lots of cash changing hands illicitly.")

Speaking of which, let's take a moment to celebrate FIFA, the IOC and the NCAA, the Mount Rushmore of autocratic, predatory, dystopian sporting warlords. For those of you new to the pillage-and-plunder game of monolithic athletic officialdom, IOC is short for International Olympic Committee, NCAA is short for National Collegiate Athletic Association and FIFA is short for Corrupt to the Core.

Anyway, upon further consideration, FIFA decided to push the 2022 World Cup back five months, to the milder climes of November and December.

It's still no picnic made in the shade then.

Several weeks ago, Doha hosted the world track and field championships. The start time of the women's marathon was moved to midnight, but with temperatures still near 90 degrees, 28 of the 68 runners failed to finish. First-aid responders literally outnumbered the competitors.

So when watching the 2022 World Cup, please note: They're not flopping, they're collapsing.

The next World Cup slogan is "Expect Amazing."

It should be: "Expect Amazingly Non-Ambulatory Athletes."

To combat the heat, Qatar is taking an unusual tack – it is air-conditioning the outdoors. Besides forced air cooling the playing fields, there will be vents under each stadium seat to comfort fans.

Now, I'm no rocket scientist – heck, I am barely a sports journalist – but while air conditioning relieves us from increasing heat, it is one of the causes of warming the planet, no? Qatar, by the way, is the largest per-capita emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, three times as much as the United States and almost six times as much as Stephen A. Smith.

If FIFA had any conscience – I realize this is a fantastical notion – it would tie the 2015 Paris Agreement to World Cup qualifying. If you are not part of that climate accord, you cannot participate in the World Cup. Now, that would be a game changer. Sure, current U.S. officials might not care much about climate change or the future of the planet, but they definitely would not want to miss on a chance to kick some Ukrainian butt on the soccer pitch.

You think I'm kidding here? We often make a big deal about sports making a difference and leading the way to societal change. Well, what better spot to be a leader than saving the Earth?

More realistically, Couch Slouch has two easy solutions to alleviate World Cup health dangers:

1. Play the games with a running a clock.

2. Reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, replace fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy, change what we eat and buy, consume less and waste less, travel smarter.

What, they already have a running clock? Dang. I guess we better do the other thing!

Ask The Slouch

Q. You seem to question student-athletes' rights to earn. Didn't you make money in college as a sportswriter? (M.J. Hunter; Naperville, Ill.)

A. I was a student-journalist at Maryland and got paid for my work in the campus newspaper – $6 for news articles, $4 for sports articles. This, in fact, jeopardized my amateur journalist status, but I chose to take the quick cash and dash my Fourth Estate Olympic dreams.

Q. If you put half the effort towards your column as your readers do when posing their thought-provoking questions, how much improvement would you see in your writing? (Jack Drury; Cumberland, Md.)

A. Uh, dunno.

Q. Politics is a blood sport in Washington, D.C. Keeping with this theme, will the impeachment hearings be commentated by Joe Buck? (Vince Banes; Silver Spring, Md.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!


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The deadline is right around the corner. Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

There is a huge day coming in early November. And no, not the election; the NFL trade deadline. The Texans could be 1-6 by then, and should be sellers at the deadline. But with no GM in place other than Jack Easterby, who signed off on the ridiculous DeAndre Hopkins trade, it's unlikely anything will happen, and if it does, we can assume the Texans get the wrong end of it.

But if they were to field offers, here's who they could move to recoup lost draft stock:

THE BIG NAMES UNLIKELY TO MOVE

1) J.J. Watt: It seems unlikely the Texans would move Watt, a Houston sports icon. But they would also be doing him a favor by sending him to a contender. Most teams that would want Watt are near the cap, though, and taking on Watt's salary would be problematic. But he would have value to a top team and if the Texans were willing to move him, he would bring the best return.

2) Whitney Mercilus: Overpaid and underproductive, getting out from under his deal would be a win for the Texans. Teams covet pass rushers, and Mercilus has a reputation for that, even if it is undeserved. The Texans would take a warm bucket of spit for him.

3) Zach Cunningham: Another player the Texans would love to dump just to get out from under his horrible contract. He has been terrible this year, but in a better system he might help a team. Unlikely to happen, but maybe there's a sucker out there.

4) Bradley Roby: Productive corners are always valuable, and Roby could be of great help to a team. It might be better to keep him around, but a nice offer should not be ignored.

5) Will Fuller: This would be the best player to move. Fuller is in a contract year and is playing well, but he will break again soon, and getting him moved before that would make sense. It would also make sense before they give him a big contract for one year of production. Would be a rental for a team, but any team needing a wideout might bite.

SMALLER NAMES THAT COULD MORE LIKELY BE MOVED

1) The other receivers: Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb have value, but Cobb's contract makes that unlikely. Cooks could be moved as a rental and a team could easily drop him next year. Kenny Stills might have some value for a team as well.

2) Zach Fulton/Senio Kelemete/Nick Martin: Several teams are desperate with offensive line injuries. While none of these players are above average, they could be key pieces for teams who have had bulk injuries on the line. While not the sexiest names, they could have some value, and the Texans could move on from one and not really miss a beat.

While moves are unlikely, if the Texans could get some draft picks back, it would give the new GM some instant capital to work with. Most of these guys could be replaced with cheaper, better options. It's unlikely anything happens, but the Texans would have options.

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