England overreacts to a player smoking, vol. 12 hundred billion: Raheem Sterling’s Snapchat shisha session

Everybody hates Raheem, or so we are lead to believe by the English press. Just as we had turned the heat down on the conversations about Raheem Sterling declining Liverpool’s latest 100,000-pound-per-week contract offer to a reasonable simmer, Raheem The Dream has gone and found himself at the center of another, even dumber controversy.


This weekend, the soon-to-be stinkingly rich attacker was spotted on Snapchat taking pulls from a shisha — which may or may not be different than a hookah — surely destroying his lungs and giving him the fitness of a 73-year-old man. Or Steven Gerrard.

Let’s take a look at the once-promising careers that have been ruined by the ravages of smoking:

Heartbreakingly tragic, isn’t it? Nothing ever came from any one these bright youngsters – lights snuffed out like so many butts in a dive bar. I will concede that Ashley Cole has always been awful and smoking is as good of an explanation as any as to why.

Being upset with Raheem Sterling for smoking this weekend without knowing how frequently he does it is pretty stupid. What’s even worse, is that I would suspect that most fans, at least those without “You’ll Never Walk Alone” tattoos, understand this. Maybe I have too much faith in humanity, but I refuse to accept that fans are as up-in-arms about this as British papers, tabloids and websites would want you to believe.

However, according to the Centers for Disease Control, smoking shisha/hookah pipes, while often delicious and a great way to enhance the experience of good liquor (allegedly), is even “worse” for Sterling than smoking cigarettes.

  • Because of the way a hookah is used, smokers may absorb more of the toxic substances also found in cigarette smoke than cigarette smokers do.
    • An hour-long hookah smoking session involves 200 puffs, while smoking an average cigarette involves 20 puffs.
    • The amount of smoke inhaled during a typical hookah session is about 90,000 milliliters (ml), compared with 500–600 ml inhaled when smoking a cigarette.4

It’s possible that I’m misinterpreting these numbers, but what I glean from this hookah versus cigarettes report is that Raheem Sterling is expending 10 times the effort of these cigarette-huffing soccer greats, and getting about 180 times the result. He should be applauded for this kind of efficiency. We love this sort of statistical analysis nowadays, don’t we?

Sterling has studied the modern history of the game and knows that smoke inhalation is the surest way to reach legendary or even Berbatovian status. He’s stepped up his game and reached back to centuries old technology to be the best player he can be. If fans are still calling for his head, it’s because they don’t really know what it takes to be a professional.


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