With nothing going on in college basketball yesterday, other mainstream sports grabbed center stage.

In professional hockey the NHL's Winnipeg Jets outlasted the Vancouver Canucks in a riveting contest that made me think about a former Canadian work colleague I once knew back in the late 1990s. While driving through Fort Worth, Texas headed to a meeting, I asked him once what's the best and worst thing about an American. The best thing, he said, is Americans are very proud people. I was flattered even though I heard once or twice that pride can be an insidious thing. The worst thing, he said, is that Americans don't know where anything is.

This got me reflecting. I felt equipped to challenge his assertion. I know for sure that at least three of the seven Canadian provinces are Montreal, Toronto and Edmonton. I admit I struggle to remember the other four. Take that, Canadians. Ok, my Canadian work pal may have a point about geography in the broad sense. But on a more parochial level I'm as adept as the next dude at knowing where things are.

For instance, I know where two Dunkin' Donuts are on my drive to work. Like all other 300 million plus Americans, I run on Dunkin'. I know where the Dick's Sporting Goods nearest to my house is located. There I buy 100 baseballs every two weeks for my son to practice hitting within the batting cages. We lose about 70 per week in the shrubbery in our backyard or sometimes we're just too lazy to pick them up after sweating it up in the cages. We always need more. I practically live at Dick's, which is adjacent to Home Depot where I never go. I know where the local strips malls are that include the 7 Elevens. There I get fireballs and grape Slush Puppies.

So while on a grand scale, my Canadian pal may have a point. But technically I contend he exaggerated.

But enough about hockey because nobody cares about it.

What Americans do jazz about is Australian Rules Football. Yesterday some muscle-infested beasts took to some pitch near Sydney and beat the living DNA out of each other for four furious hours. They clawed on each other, spit goo, drooled, and shoved each other around like hungry elephants. They did their favorite thing of all incessantly, had a scrum-they love scrums. Then some small guy drop-kicked the watermelon-shaped ball from 20 yards out through the uprights for a victory. There were no fans. Afterward, both teams headed to the pub and guzzled multiple pints of ale. Crocodile Dundee penned autographs on their arms besides their tattoos of Australian reptiles.

In lady's college softball yesterday, a town ordinance was put into effect and is likely to spark a national trend. The University of Alabama and University of Georgia girls were squealing so loud for so long that the locals claimed they were being subjected to excessive noise pollution. Both team coaches complained that their girls were just being boisterous and supportive teammates. The local mayor said the girls needed to tone it down.

In international soccer circles, nothing happened except the usual guys faking injuries to induce referees to call penalties on the other team. The Global Soccer Federation issued a statement supporting the faking. "Just like fighting in hockey, faking injuries is good for the game. It puts people in the seats, which makes us more money. And making more money is the only thing that matters in this world including Europe."

The NCAA college swimming championships were held last week in some pool. The usual suspects dominated-Auburn, University of California, and University Georgia. Rowdy Gaines called the event from the broadcast booth. He spent quite a bit of time psychoanalyzing himself especially how he got his name. "As a kid I used to jump up and down in my bed at night. I couldn't stop. And I would yell stuff. My parents told me to stop being so rowdy. That's how I got my name Rowdy. My real name is Claude."

Asked to comment on the fact that American Olympic swimming star, Ryan Lochte, has been active outside of the pool since last summer's Olympics doing Leno "Late Night," The Bachelor, and various other silly gigs, Gaines said: "Ryan has come to realize he will never be as great as Michael Phelps so is striving to out-do him in non-swimming endeavors. So far he's making solid progress."

Also yesterday the world's strongest man competition had its usual bevy of quirky events such as tossing log cabins over mountain ranges and lifting three Humvees while singing "Edelweis" minus Christopher Plumber and the Von Trapp Family Singers. "I hate that song but love lifting Humvees," said Bruno Machorump. "But that machismo doesn't fit with the song they make us sing. Somebody needs to rethink the event. It's absurd."



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