Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Some Brief Thoughts on the Swimsuit Issue, Being a Dictator, Tobacco Road and the NFL

* I'm not saying the SI Swimsuit issue is ready for the scrap heap, but when I'm wondering if they picked the cover model because she is Cristiano Ronaldo's girlfriend and not the other way around, cracks are appearing in the facade.

* Sticking with that theme, when I'm looking at the bodypainting and thinking the artists have done some fantastically detailed and intricate work, it's time to find some less-accomplished artists.

* If I am an authoritarian ruler pretty much anywhere in the world right now, I've got my advance scouts checking out various destinations. Back home I have suitcases packed, my Swiss banker on speed dial and pilots at the ready. Uncomfortable times.

* Stan Musial and Bill Russell were both awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom yesterday. (Here is the complete list of the 15 recipients.) They are two of their generation's greatest sporting figures. Though they are incredibly different, you will have trouble finding two men who are equally and more universally respected.

* The NFL's television ratings took another quantum leap this year. Football now so completely dominates the American sporting landscape that we should no longer refer to "the big four sports" with some kind of sporting equality. It is football above all others. With fewer and fewer kids participating for a variety of reasons and the effect of head injuries becoming better understood, it really is becoming our culture's gladiatorial spectacle.

* With the college basketball season more meaningless than ever, it still amazes me that media outlets spend hours debating who is ranked #1 in the polls.

* Is every kid in the south now playing soccer? The south is still the go to spot for the best high school football players, but it isn't producing great basketball talent. What are those kids playing?

* The ACC and SEC just flat out stink in hoops. Woe Tobacco Road...

* Lance Armstrong retired again. Officially. I still would put it at even money that Lance goes down in one of these drug investigations. So much smoke. I just don't believe that many people are carrying an unsubstantiated vendetta against the guy. But cycling does have a good, clean track record, so there's that. Waaaaaaait a second...

* The Daytona 500 is this weekend. NASCAR's golden era is over. I think we are going to look back back at 1995-2005 and wonder what the fascination was. But in Europe they still watch Formula 1 which is basically a grid race to the first turn and then 60 laps of cars running in a line with one pit stop, so who knows.

* The Pirates announced today that Joel Hanrahan will open the season as their closer. Surprisingly this story is not yet overshadowing the Pujols negotiations.

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