With the Olympic Games coming to a close, I have only one question to ask (and it's the same one I've been asking for two weeks): Does anybody know what channel judo is on?
Actually, I don't care. But my 10-year-old daughter (a purple belt and rising fast) wants to see a nice knife hand to the throat, so every day we channel surf through MSNBC, CNBC, USA, Telemundo and Bravo on the way to Animal Planet.
Barring a TiVo miracle or Steven Seagal showing up at my house, we'll never see the butt-kicking for which we've been searching. Right about now, I'd settle for a scissor kick upside Jimmy Roberts' head. I got your judo right here, NBC.
As you might have guessed by now, I have something of a love-hate relationship with the Olympics. I loved the high-tech opening ceremony, especially the guy walking on the cube suspended in the air. But honestly, a real man walks the cube without a safety wire.
I also love watching the sprints – the pure power and explosiveness of Justin Gatlin, the graceful stride and promise of young Allyson Felix.
I love Rulon Gardner, the big lug who scored one of the biggest upsets in Greco-Roman wrestling history four years ago (defeating the legend Alexander Karelin). And in just as big of a shock, Gardner lost in Athens, settling for bronze with dignity and class.
Dignity and class would seem to be two words unfamiliar to Svetlana Khorkina, the Russian gymnast still griping about the judges days after being beaten by American Carly Patterson. Khorkina told the Russian media she knew she was going to get robbed before the competition began. "They just set me up and fleeced me," said the diva.
Help me here Svetlana. I'm thinking of a word and it rhymes with "witch."
There were great stories, and some tragic ones. When you train four years for one moment, the tension and pressure can become overwhelming.
So just imagine poor Irina Shevchenko of Russia. She bolted from the starting blocks in the women's 100-meter hurdles and was blind-sided by the woman in the next lane, Perdita Felicien. Felicien crashed on her first hurdle and took Shevchenko down with her.
How cruel is that? Shevchenko can't even say she gave it her best shot and lost. Thanks for coming to Athens – hope you enjoyed the baklava.
Where were the gymnastics judges when Shevchenko needed them? If ever there was a situation that required a redo, this was it. But each sport has its own rules, so sorry Irina – no review for you.
The gymnastics judges have established themselves as a complete joke. Aren't these the same guys who handed out dual golds in figure skating at the Salt Lake Games? Whenever you seek justice by going to the video tape, you're in trouble. Haven't these people ever watched an NFL game?
Granted, there are some instances when video review would have been a good thing. Like the Indians selling Manhattan for $24 in trinkets in 1626.
Fast forward to 1975. Actor McLean Stevenson leaves "M*A*S*H" in a contract dispute. The show goes on to become one of the longest running and most celebrated sitcoms in history. Stevenson goes on to host "Hello Larry." Oops. Bad call.
Mistakes and bad judgments happen all the time. But once a competition is over, it's over! It's a final. Goodnight everybody. See you in Beijing in 2008. By then, maybe I'll find some judo.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has a new reality television show debuting this fall on ABC. It's called "The Benefactor" and the billionaire will give away a million bucks to some lucky sap. Cuban already gave handsomely to charity this week, agreeing to a reported seven-year, $73-million contract in a sign-and-trade deal for center Erick Dampier.
I know the Mavericks are desperate for size and muscle, but it's strange that Cuban did not want to ante up to keep the heart and soul of the Mavs, Steve Nash (now a Phoenix Sun). But he's willing to overpay Dampier, whose been plagued by injuries and had one good season in an eight-year career.
A unique case
Mike Williams will probably make a fortune as a great NFL receiver some day, but for now, he's a man without a team. The NFL won't let him in and the NCAA slammed the door on his possible return to USC this week.
Unless he wants to become a member of the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League, all Williams can do is sit and wait until next year's draft.
Williams and Maurice Clarett challenged the NFL's rules which state you can't go pro unless you've been out of high school for at least three years. The players won the first battle, but the NFL won the war.
Williams' crime is that he hired an agent and stopped going to school while he was working out for the draft. He has since severed ties with the agent and went to summer school to regain his academic eligibility. USC says he's eligible, but the NCAA says no.
You can argue that Williams knew the gamble he was taking, got greedy and got burned. But his are unique circumstances. Pathetically, the NCAA doesn't do unique. It's an organization that pretends to support student-athletes but treats those it purports to protect like convicts in a penitentiary.
Nightmare statistic of the week: San Francisco Giants pitcher Wayne Franklin gave up seven runs in the first inning Tuesday night in a 9-1 loss to Florida. Franklin faced 10 batters and threw 50 pitches, leaving the game after recording only two outs. Had Franklin kept that pace for the entire game, he would have thrown 675 pitches that night.
If you believe in omens, you can forget about watching NHL games anytime soon. With a lockout between players and owners looming, Air Canada lost the Stanley Cup for a few hours, removing it from a flight between Vancouver and Fort St. John because the cup was too heavy.
Not to worry, Lord Stanley's chalice was found safe and sound, which is more than we can say about the upcoming season.
- Svetlana Khorkina
- Irina Shevchenko