Thursday, February 23, 2006

How We Screwed Up The Olympics

Sometimes the media agrees almost unanimously. Whenever this happens, run..don’t walk, the other direction as fast as you can. Because they are likely wrong.

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 By 2006, the thrill and newness of the professional athletes being at the games has been replaced by the collective yawn of athletes, media, fans, and anyone else that used to enjoy the innocent charm of the amateur athletes competing for patriotic pride.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:

Hey Bob,

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?


Mike said...

Hey Sturm - I'm traveling in the UK at present, and had the opportunity to visit a pub in Chelsea and watch the match last night. We were covertly supporting Barcelona (which was the obvious smart thing to do). There were plenty of unhappy folk in attendance, especially after the Chelsea player was sent off with a red card. It was a great second half and reading the UK media this morning, they are beside themselves.

Anyway, agree it was a great game, and the only thing that would have been better would have been to be in the stadium instead of right down the street from it.

Stay har... (oops, wrong deal).


Big Daddy said...

Careful, Mike, mr. t is liable to bust in here and severely reprimand us all for soccer talk....

Anyway, definitely a bit of schadenfreude watching Chelsea implode like that. I guess "The Special One" isn't so special after all. God, how I hate Mourinho with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns. This loss couldn't have happened to a bigger jackass, and I wait patiently for Abramovich to grow tired of his toy, sell off the club, and watch them pull a Leeds as they sink into red-ink and, God willing, the 2nd Division.

It's even more hilarious that he bitched about the sending off after the match, especially when Robben stuck a backflip into a pike to get Reina sent off in the match against 'pool.

See ya', Chelsea. It's gonna; be rough seeing your North London neighbors advance to the quarters while you're sitting at home.

AttnyDan said...

I've resigned myself to the fact that Bob likes Soccer, this is Bob's blog, Soccer will be all over his blog sometimes, ergo, Bob is gay. I just fight through it like those pop up ads on those websites my wife wouldn't like me to be surfing. Mr. T needs to chill I think.

At least he isn't whipping us with Match play updates from Golf this week. Wait a minute, I'm playing fantasy golf this year. Bob, where are the updates!!!

Modano = kinda being a sore loser?

rentz said...

i completely agree with everything said in todays blog about us olympic hockey.
in both hockey and basketball the novelty of pro's in the games has worn off, and i was never exactly in favor of it to begin with.
to me the olympic should be for amatures, not millionaires.
with that said, i dont blame modano for his statements, infact i agree with them.
us hockey should be an oiled machine, with travel plans well thought out, etc.
it just seemed like there was no communication on that team. i really think everyone would be better off if we had a team that played together for a few years training.

Big Daddy said...

I think Modano just made some comments in the heat of the moment, and I'd be willing to bet he'd like to take them back seeing as how they do make it appear he's a whiny little bitch.

Any chance we can get Morrow to become a US citizen for 2010? At least we know he'd put up an A+ effort every night.

Seriously, though, the US is going to be in even more trouble come 2010. Who the hell is going to score for this team? I can't think of one young US born player in the NHL with some scoring touch.

vslicebornborn said...


I am a FBI agent! and I sure wish I could quit you.

Big Daddy said...

BTW, Bob, no follow up on the "Cleveland Wig Out"???

Luis M said...

hockey, olympics, soccer. i just skipped those sections of bobby's blog. i was expecting some NBA trade deadline talk...well maybe i can get some stirred...

two trades the Mavs should consider.
1. Damp & Daniels to NY for Penny Hardaway's expiring contract. this would get rid of Damp's contract. Damp has been solid off the bench of late, good that should help his trade value if he has any. its a bad contract. it hurts giving up Daniels, but thats the price we have to pay. Penny doesnt even have to show up here, we just want his contract. Biggest problem is Diop and DJ would be our center rotation and i think its obvious that DJ is not ready. If its true that Isiah Thomas is trying to stack assets to make a run at KG this summer, then this might interest him.
2. Damp & Daniels to Memphis for Lorezn Wright and Brian Cardinal.
The Griz had interest in Damp when he was a free agent. Again hurts giving up Daniels, but we get Wright who is a free agent after this season. In Cardinal we get another white stiff to put in the center rotation and he still owed 24 mil over the next 4 seasons, a little less then Daniels in the same timeframe.

Neither trade is exciting and doesnt help the Mavs much this season, Wright could help at the center position, but what these trades do is save the Mavs $10-15 million this off-season. Which makes resigning Terry, Van Horn and even DJ a little easier.

Welp see me later!

cracker1743 said...

Bob, you had me on the media/Olympics thing right up until the college football playoffs comparison. It still seems like a no-brainer to me. But then, I find soccer to be quite dull, so what do I know?

Anonymous said...

Another unforseen consequence of Brokeback Mountain. This is not a bit, not a joke and actually, a very funny story about the way certain words are translated into other languages.

Chris said...

Bobs blog w\soccer talk = jumping shark?


Modano is dead on right about all of it. I don't see it as being whiny. Just calling a turd a turd. I really hoped that the NHL players would not be apart of Vancouver 2010, if it were any other city outside of North America, there is no way that the NHL would join in.

Sturminator said...

2 things:

1) soccer constitutes less than 10% of today's blog.

2) Penny has been traded already.

Luis M said...

welp see me later...

Mr. T said...

Tatu rocks! Kevin Smith, Gordan Jago, Beto, Kevin Powers, and Doc Lawson are sooo good. The Dallas Sidekicks are awesome! I hope they beat the Chicago Sting and the K.C. Comets this weekend at Reunion Arena.

Goooo Soccer!
Let's see if that get's the Sturminator out of his SPORTZ hole.

Diego used his hand.

vslicebornborn said...

Trade Scenario:

Dampier for Michael Jordon and the the elephant man's bones. Maybe throw in a 2nd round pick.

What is that you say Jordan has been retired? I really need to pay more attention to the tickers.

Anonymous said...

soccer talk is greatness....

Jay Clendenin said...

AttnyDan, can you give me a job when I graduate from law school? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Modano is lucky that he's white and that no one gives a shit about hockey. Can you imagine the media and fan backlash if someone like KG or McGrady made the same comments after the men's basketball team didn't even medal?

Anonymous said...

Trading Damp and Daniels makes sense money wise. However, Damp is really needed on the roster this season. Diop is doing fine at starting. He brings the defense above the rim that no one on this team really can do consistently. However, we have a two-headed monster at center. Damp is way overpaid, but the Mavs need him for rebounding and he's a better scorer than Diop. If you're going to go for it all this year, the Mavs have no choice but to hang on to Damp. As for Daniels, he is not earning that 5 year 37 mil contract. If trading hims means they can nail down Josh Howard long term, then do it.


rajajiv said...

To Anon at 11:39:

I totally disagree that if KG or McGrady had done it that there would have been a fan backlash. If KG or McGrady, two guys who are gentlemen and great ambassadors to the sport, had said the same things, nothing would have happened. If AI or Rasheed Wallace said those things, all bets are off. I still believe it has less to do with color and more to do with historical performance off the field of play. I think that if Jeremy Roenick had said the same things (and been on the team), he would have been grilled. Of course, this is hockey, so being "grilled" means that the three US hockey writers including Bob would have gotten upset. That's about it...

Bill Howard said...

Does everyone forget how painful it was to watch our amateur hockey teams in the Olympics in the late 1980s/early 1990s? I'll root for USA regardless of if they're made of pro or amateur players, but we had no shot at a gold or silver medal before pros came in.

I think most of the Team USA players gave it their all. They just weren't good enough. We just have to accept that USA hockey in general has fallen behind six of the other seven teams in the elimination round. Modano is right that USA Hockey needs reorganization. Why is it that Sweden or Russia or Finland can come together just as quickly as the USA and they gel after a game or two? USA Hockey is the problem, not the issue of having pro players in the Olympics. I'm sure fans in Sweden, Finland, Russia and the Czech Republic aren't crying about that issue.

Brandon at GSR said...

"Can you imagine the media and fan backlash if someone like KG or McGrady made the same comments after the men's basketball team didn't even medal?"

The U.S. Olympic basketball team would not have had to endure booking their own travel arrangements to get to the Olympics. Therefore, your analogy doesn't quite fit.

As far as I'm concerned, Modano's only real crime here is that he aired Team USA's dirty laundry publically. Personally, I think he should have kept these issues behind closed doors.

That having been said, I doubt he's going to lose sleep because asshats like John Banks and Barry Horn are taking pot shots at him and some reporter in Torino got exactly what he wanted by baiting Modano into this kind of answer while also ignoring some of Modano's other quotes about how Team USA played both yesterday and during the tournament.

Oh, what am I saying? We all know the media doesn't stoop to such levels!!

Luis M said...

Brandon...GSR Andrade??

disco, i want the Mavs to win it all this year, but i want them to win the next and the next and the next year. if there is an opportunity to move his contract now then i say go for it. will his contract hurt cuban's pocket book enough that he will let a jason terry or/and van horn walk away? how is more vital to the mavs success, terry or damp? cuban showed us in the Nash deal that he will let a player walk away to save dollars...

sturminater said...

dear guys,

i've decided its finally time to stop living a lie. i have never admitted this to anyone but i am a gay male. i will be leaving my wife this weekend so if any of you single guys want to hook up let me know. hey now!


Big Daddy said...

So i guess all the "small of the back tatoo" talk was just a cunning ruse, secretly preparing for the "coming out party".

So when is Dan leaving his wife, and will BDH officiate the commitment ceremony???


What a difference one letter makes.