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The good, the bad and the ugly
February 15, 2010 - Steve Murch
In a weekend full of highlights (and lowlights), there were some good, bad and ugly. Here are a few bad, a few good, and one ugly.
The death of Nodar Kumaritashvili during a luge practice run at Vancouver Olympics was the lowest of the lowlights. Unfortunately, the ugly was the commentary by the pundits. Many, including the Associated Press' Jim Litke, took a holy-than-thou approach. “No one should be surprised, least of all the International Olympic Committee. The Winter Games have been veering closer to the edge of sanity for the last 25 years, more than doubling the number of sports largely by adding those where the thrill is exceeded only by the risk,” Litke wrote. If the edge of sanity has been approaching for so long, why then didn't any of the national sports writers harp on this repeatedly instead of contemplating whether the Kobe/LeBron Nike commercials were the best ever. Or whether Alex Rodriguez was wrong to dump his good luck charm Kate Hudson (the point being that too many fluff columns happened instead of asking the questions). Hindsight is always 20/20, but going out on a limb is tough to do. The pundits didn't go out on a limb in the months leading up to the luge. Following Friday's tragedy, perhaps they should have focused on where we go now instead of what should have been done prior.
The bad Daytona 500. I'm not a NASCAR fan, but respect those who are. I'm sure there are I sports I like that they don't. The fiasco that was the pothole certainly fills “the bad.” However, what kind of fallout would there be if a small sinkhole suddenly appeared in the middle of the field of the Super Bowl? Apples and oranges? Well, NASCAR does call the Daytona 500 the Super Bowl of racing. And a 2 ½ hour delay because of a pothole is a big thing. I'd be willing to bet NASCAR lost a lot of fringe viewers the longer the race delayed restarting.
The NBA all-star game. Who really cares? Ban all all-star games, even baseball — which stays truest to itself. At one point the games mattered from start to finish. Then the became a way for the players to earn money for little work. If you insist on a meaningless all-star game and want a quality game, then here's an idea — winners get $50,000 and the team that loses gets NOTHING. All of these guys already make insane amounts of money, so make it interesting.
Both good and bad Men's 1,500 short track. The wild finish is what people love, but part of the reason I'm not crazy about the short track (I like the long track better) is the unspoken “trick” of teammates finding ways to eliminate or slow down opponents. You can't convince me that the third Korean wasn't gunning to cut off American Apolo Ohno when he inadvertently took out a teammate, which led to two U.S. skaters earning medals. Great finish, questionable tactics.
The good The men's moguls. Alexandre Bilodeau became the first Canadian to win a gold medal on home soil. These are the third Games in Canada — Montreal and Calgary are others — and the whole country is probably let out a collective sign of relief.
The men's Nordic combined. No American had won the event in the history of the Winter Games. Johnny Spillane's silver ended that drought. Spillane almost won the gold, but was edge out in a wild finish. Two other Americans — Todd Lodwick and Billy Demong — had a chance to earn medals and an American-born Frenchman, Jason Lamy Chappuis, won it. Great drama for something that isn't the fast event — combing ski jumping with cross country skiing.
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