About 20 years ago it started. Oscar Schmidt scored at will for Brazil in the 1986 Pan American Games and beat the United States in Basketball. Then, in 1988, John Thompson put together a team of college players and headed to Seoul. The results were a bronze medal. And it happened. The media agreed almost across the board that it needed to happen. We needed pro athletes in the Olympic Games. No longer could these other countries beat our amateurs, while we knew all along our professionals would dominate the world.
So, the leagues listened. First, basketball signed up. Then Hockey. I think Tennis, Soccer, and a few other sports are doing it, too, but I don’t know the history well enough on those. All I know is it seemed like a great idea at first, as the 1992 Dream Team took over Barcelona and we all agreed that the right choice has been made.
But, now, I realize what happened. We ruined the Olympics. By 2006, the thrill and newness of the professional athletes being at the games has been replaced by the collective yawn of athletes, media, fans, and anyone else that used to enjoy the innocent charm of the amateur athletes competing for patriotic pride.
Now, it looks like a vacation for the families of the richest athletes. A chance for little Johnny to see Italy. Meanwhile, the cohesion does not exist, the chemistry does not exist, and the charm of the games are completely forgotten.
Perhaps I say this because the USA put together “their very best” and managed to win 1 game in 6 tries. Perhaps, if they and Canada were preparing for the Semi-finals for the tournament I would be singing a different tune, but I doubt it. I ignored the Olympic basketball team in 2004, and now I wonder how we got here.
We made this decision because we wanted to win. We were tired of playing other countries’ pros with our college kids. And I am not saying I have the solutions here, but I am convinced that the unanimous media was unanimously wrong. Pro athletes should not be in the Olympics. They are too rich to care, too busy to put in the time to build a proper squad, and too old to compete for a medal.
I find myself wondering how we can get back to 1984 now. The pros have every platform in sports. Let’s leave the Olympics to the amateurs. And if we can get every country to do so, we may have a meaningful tournament again.
By the way, the media unanimously agrees that we need a college football playoff.
USA gets beat by Finland (who any Stars fan cheers for now), But Mike Modano had plenty to say …He was benched in the 3rd period…
"Maybe you need to get some new blood in there to kind of run things a little differently," said Modano. "I've been with USA Hockey a long time, and it's probably time to see some change."
If the U.S. program were in chaos, this might be understandable. But the men's Olympic team won a silver medal in Salt Lake City, the women's program has been excellent, and the U.S. junior program is thriving.
Instead, mostly, it seems this is about how well the players' needs are met, in terms of travel and family accommodations for the Olympics.
"Basically we're on (our) own as far as arrangements _ hotels, flights, tickets," he said. "That's something you don't ever have to think about. It should be taken care of so we don't have to worry about it."
That grinding sound you hear is made by the teeth of bobsledders and cross-country skiers and other athletes whose families make financial sacrifices to come to the Olympics, or need outside help to do it, much as those athletes struggle or need help to pursue their sport.
Be that as it may, Modano feels USA Hockey needs to be "more of a well-oiled machine.
"It's frustrating," he said. "You put a lot into it, and we've come a long way and you want things to run smooth behind the scenes. Part of goes back to families being over here. It's more of a distraction for a lot of guys playing the game.
Modano questioned Laviolette's decision to call a first-period time out, saying there was a need for "a little composure, a little less panic and (to) just play the game." And he made it clear he wasn't happy about sitting out most of the third period.
"Well, we're down and looking for goals and looking for offense," said Laviolette. "And to be honest, it wasn't about Mike Modano. It's never been about any one player on the team. It was about trying to get the players on the ice that were going. The third period was clearly our best period."
And so, at the end, the U.S. team leaves squabbling.
In case you weren't sure, this looks really, really bad for Modano. He may be exactly right, in fact, I was hearing that the entire organization was a joke before the games started, but you can't say it in the lockerroom moments after you get benched and Finland eliminates you.
Meanwhile, since misery loves company, we all had to love Russia 2, Canada 0 …
Despite a lineup of NHL stars, Canada had trouble scoring in Turin, particularly at Esposizione, the secondary Olympic arena where it was shut out 2-0 by Switzerland and 2-0 by Finland in preliminary round play, and then again by Russia.
Canada scored 15 goals in three games at the main arena, Palasport Olympico.
Russia outshot Canada 33-26 overall.
It was Canada's first Olympic meeting with the Russians since losing the 1992 gold medal game at Albertville, France, in 1992. Despite the lack of goals, it was a rousing, physical game.
The Russians, knowing Martin Brodeur tweaked a lingering knee injury in a 3-2 win over the Czech Republic on Tuesday, crashed the crease more than once, but the veteran goaltender held his ground and produced his best game of the tournament.
Sparky Anderson to be honored in Fort Worth …
Cats to retire Anderson's No. 1
The Cats have announced the organization will retire Sparky Anderson’s No. 1 Cats jersey during a pre-game ceremony before the Fort Worth-Pensacola game, Saturday, June 17 at LaGrave Field.
This marks the fourth jersey retired in the history of the Cats. Bobby Bragan’s No. 10 jersey was the first to be retired in 2003. The team retired Duke Snider’s No. 4 jersey in 2004 while Maury Wills’ No. 6 jersey was retired last season.
So, Did Babe Ruth replace George “Papa Bear” Halas in RF? …
Although Halas played only 12 games with the Yankees - six in the outfield - the myth persists that he was Babe Ruth's predecessor as Yankee rightfielder. Ruth actually replaced Sammy Vick in 1920. Soon after Halas's demotion that season, he helped establish the National Football League. For over 60 years, he operated the Chicago Bears, playing end through 1929, and coaching through 1968. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
76ers announce guns for tickets …Love that city…
This cannot be for real German Child takes on his computer ….
Dexter Coakley not done with Rams …
After veteran linebacker Dexter Coakley suffered season-ending leg and ankle injuries Dec. 4 against Washington, there was some speculation that he might retire.
But Coakley plans to return for his 10th NFL season in 2006, and his second with the Rams.
"He was one of the first guys to come in and meet me when I was on the job," Linehan said. "He wanted to know how he fit into the scheme of things, and was very positive.
"I really like those veterans that have a good attitude. I was very encouraged with where his mind was, and where he felt that he was health-wise."
I saw this article this evening and thought it might be blog worthy for Thursday. It seems odd that coming off a national championship and about to be going in to the NFL that you wouldnt want to spend cash on a car or house, but an International House of Pancakes. Maybe its just me.
Jason in Austin.
Longhorn’s Huff wants an IHOP …
Since the draft is quickly approaching, I've been thinking about what I'll buy with my first professional paycheck. A lot of people are probably expecting me to say that I'd buy a big house, and that's partly true. But it's not what you think. The first house I buy will be the one with the blue roof on it that says "IHOP." It has been a dream of mine to own my own International House of Pancakes, and someday I will. Just last week I ate there five or six times, and about every time I got the same thing, pancakes and shrimp. It's a cool feeling to know that someday I'll get to eat at my IHOP whenever I want.
What a Night at Stamford Bridge! Barcelona 2, Chelsea 1 ...
Chelsea are on the verge of extinction in the competition, having not only been beaten but also conceding two away goals, with Samuel Eto'o winning the game by heading home Rafael Marquez's cross in the 79th minute.
The greatest damage of all, however, had been done by Asier del Horno, who was sent off for a crass challenge on Lionel Messi in the first-half. A bold Chelsea went on to take the lead through a Thiago Motta own goal before John Terry inadvertently sent the ball into his own net, but it was the sins of a Spanish left-back that changed the match and, probably, his club's season.
Here is some USA Hockey E-mail:
Our U.S. Hockey team should be embarrassed by their performance (1-4-1). They should go back to a college allstars team that practices for several months or more (if possible) and a couple pros mixed in for good measure. Your thoughts? Also, where was Guerin for this final game against Finland (Dallas Stars lite), and did Modano even play...what gives?
I caught the assessment of the U.S. Olympic hockey team just a bit ago on my way back from lunch.
I agree. I long for the days when we used our kids against the world. I don’t know, but if I’m gonna get beat by Russia or the Fins or whomever, I’d much rather see a bunch of kids whose whole life revolves around that one game at that one time … opposed to a bunch of guys who played hard at the time, but what the hell … I’ll just go over here and count my money and to back to my NHL contract.
Point BreakBack Mountain …Does it ever get old?