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Hope Solo and Punishment That Does Not Fit the ‘Crime’

August 24th, 2016 · No Comments · Football, Olympics, Rio Olympics, soccer, World Cup

After the U.S. women’s national soccer team lost a Rio 2016 shootout to Sweden, a game that ended 1-1 in regulation, goalkeeper Hope Solo was not in a diplomatic mood. She rarely is after losing, God bless her.

The Swedes got an early lead, then sat back and absorbed pressure, and when they conceded the tying goal they did not seem particularly interested in winning the game, apparently content to take their chances in the lottery that is “penalty kicks”. And they won the lottery.

Solo said the Swedes had played “like a bunch of cowards”.

Which may not have been Miss Manners levels of sweetness and light, but was at the least a fair comment. Solo called it as she saw it, as she so often does.

The U.S. Soccer Federation, however, has treated the “coward” talk with the same sort of blunt condemnation of a failed drug test, today announcing a six-month suspension for the colorful ‘keeper.

Which is a bunch of bull. (Or is that phrase poor sportsmanship, too, U.S. women’s style?)

What is astonishing is how key U.S. women’s players (past and present) seemed to be calling for some sort of punishment, though not even Julie Foudy (now a talking head who seems to disapprove of Solo’s truthy-ness) or Rio 2016 teammate Megan Rapinoe may have anticipated the draconian punishment handed down by federation president Sunil Gulati.

This is ridiculous.

Let’s recap.

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By the Sea, By the Beautiful Sea …

August 23rd, 2016 · No Comments · France, tourism, Travel

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So, it’s warm in the Languedoc … let’s give the Mediterranean a try. It’s what all tourists from the northern regions of France do, in July and August, when they decamp to the southern half of the country.

We can consider that a hearty recommendation, no?

Well, we could. But that would not keep the nearest beach, so spectacular and empty in the winter and spring … from being a horrible decision, in late August.

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The Olympics and a Chance to ‘Get Inspired’

August 22nd, 2016 · No Comments · Olympics, Rio Olympics

The BBC’s coverage of Rio 2016 came with nightly references to a particular area of the network’s website:

The “get inspired” feature.

If you watched the Olympics and decided you would like to emulate Team Great Britain’s athletes … the BBC has advice on how to get started.

I was thinking about how silly it is that the British public should be encouraged to be the next Mo Farah (or, in the States, the next Simone Biles) … when I recalled that an American Olympic champion inspired me when I was a teen.

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Today’s List: Ten Thoughts on Rio 2016

August 21st, 2016 · No Comments · Lists, Olympics, Rio Olympics

The Rio 2016 Summer Olympics wrapped up today. The final few medals handed out, the typical Closing Ceremonies chaos the great migration to the airport in the morning …

Here are 10 topics about these Games, the future Games, and the people involved in it all.

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Track and Field, Sleep Deprivation and Rio 2016

August 20th, 2016 · No Comments · Olympics, Rio Olympics

What will I stay up all night to watch on TV?

Not much.

Not the NFL. Not the NBA. Not even Major League Baseball.

The World Cup? Maybe the Super Bowl.

The Summer Olympics?

As it turns out … absolutely … if the track meet is going on.

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U.S. Track Relay Teams and that Slippery Baton

August 19th, 2016 · 1 Comment · Beijing Olympics, Olympics, Rio Olympics

Apparently, USA Track and Field doesn’t care that it cannot come up with sprint-relay teams who can get a baton around a track.

Any time the U.S. has a quartet of sprinters — male or female — running in a major event, American fans who have been paying attention know they may soon need to cover their eyes.

(Eight years ago, at Beijing 2008, I saw both the men’s and women’s sprint relay team fail to complete the three handoffs, throwing away medals in the process, and driving me to distraction.)

And here we are, eight years later, and apparently no one in USAT&F seems to notice the embarrassing mess that is its relay teams.

Because the men screwed it up tonight, and had to give up what appeared to have been a bronze-medal finish … coming one day after the women dropped the baton in qualifying.

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Oh, Wait: The U.S. Men Are in Bigger Trouble

August 19th, 2016 · No Comments · Basketball, NBA, Olympics, Rio Olympics

I was critical of the U.S. women’s basketball team yesterday. It underwhelmed me in a semifinal victory over France.

Then I saw the men play Spain tonight …

And they were just as ragged as were the women … while playing significantly more competent opposition. Which means they are in a much more dangerous situation.

A Spain team led by 36-year-old Pau Gasol (23 points) lost by only six, 82-76, to a team including Kevin Durant, Boogie Cousins, Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson. Oh, and Carmelo Anthony, zero championships, who apparently considers this team his — which would explain a lot.

Next up? The gold-medal game against Serbia — the team the Yanks beat by all of three points in pool play. The Serbia that was shooting, at the buzzer, to send their game with the U.S. into overtime.

Have a look at the box; it was a close-run thing.

Anyway, be warned:

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U.S. Women’s Basketball Team: Ripe for an Upset

August 18th, 2016 · No Comments · Basketball, Olympics, Rio Olympics

I have seen more than a little women’s basketball.

I covered WNBA games. I traveled to Arizona to sit down with Diana Taurasi of the Phoenix Mercury. I reported on women’s college basketball games and more than a few girls prep basketball games.

I covered the U.S. women’s team in an Olympics or three.

But over the past half dozen years, without planning to do so, I pretty much checked out on women’s hoops. Much of that was about working in the UAE, where the women’s game hardly exists.

So, for a change of pace, I watched the U.S. women defeat France in the women’s semifinals at Rio 2016 tonight, their 48th consecutive victory in Olympic play.

I was not impressed.

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Today’s List: Nice Stuff about the Olympics

August 17th, 2016 · No Comments · Olympics

We’re all Olympics critics, aren’t we? Well, many of us. And sometimes we feel like we’re just crabbing about something or other all the time and maybe we should do something about it.

So, today, nothing but kind thoughts. Really. None of this is satire. This is just niceness for the sake of changing up things.

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Forty Years, and the Rise and Fall of American Newspapers

August 16th, 2016 · 1 Comment · Newspapers, Sports Journalism

Forty years ago today I walked into a newsroom for the first time as a full-time professional journalist.

That was a very long time ago, and even longer in the context of print journalism’s modern era — where the only certainty has been change.

Looking back, we can see at least three significant eras in newspapers over that 40 years, which is a lot, given that the industry had not changed radically over the previous 75 years.

The three eras my contemporaries and I worked through:

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