TELANDER: This Big Dance was made for dunces
BY RICK TELANDER firstname.lastname@example.org March 23, 2013 12:56AM
Florida Gulf Coast, a 15 seed, knocked off No. 2 Georgetown in the NCAA tournament, and boy, did it makes some folks look dumb. | Michael Perez~AP
Updated: April 25, 2013 6:49AM
Brackets are evil.
If anybody has a perfect NCAA tournament bracket right now, after the full first round of the men’s Big Dance, then they are fools. No sane person could pick Harvard over New Mexico or Florida Gulf Coast over Georgetown.
If you picked both of those teams, you are an idiot. Even if you’re right.
◆ ADVANCED MATH: Harvard beat New Mexico in the NCAAs. Northwestern has never been to the NCAAs. Northwestern is more elite, more effete than Harvard.
◆ I SAW THE NAME Northwestern State in a bracket. I wondered, like Alice with the Mad Hatter, if ‘‘State’’ were a puff of smoke from the Caterpillar.
I woke up.
◆ FAMED GOLFER TIGER Woods and star skier Lindsey Vonn are an item. I know Woods is on the rebound after his wildman, oats-sowing spree and subsequent divorce from blond former model Elin Nordegren.
But here’s what’s weird. If you look at certain photos of the equally blond Vonn and fit-beyond-belief Nordegren, it’s likely they are the same person.
◆ THE MIAMI HEAT NOW truly scares me.
Maybe the team’s winning streak (25 as I write this) will be over soon. But the streak isn’t important. The Heat’s dominance is.
LeBron James is so good that the Jordan comparison makes sense. He even has a star Pippen-esque sidekick, Dwyane Wade. The pair have averaged a combined 50 points during the streak, and Wade is shooting 52 percent from the field.
Other Heat players have gone nuts, too. Shane Battier is making over 50 percent of his three-pointers during the streak. And midseason signee Chris ‘‘Birdman’’ Andersen, a 6-10 eggbeater with more tattoos than a San Quentin lifer, has helped on defense.
The Heat still can’t rebound. And it isn’t very physical. But none of that seems to matter.
Remember when we said it was unfair that former Cavalier James could ‘‘take his talents’’ to Miami and rig the game with stars like Wade and Chris Bosh? Well, it happened.
And it’s hard not to tip your cap to King James and his gaming of a system so mightily tilted toward the owners and non-playing fat cats.
◆ DOPING IN SPORT, MY friends, has not ended. In fact, based on the facts dripping out of so-called ‘‘wellness centers,’’ it seems pretty clear that Major League Baseball players, for one, are juicing almost at a late-1990s rate.
We know about the nasty doping culture of bike racing — thank you very much, Lance Armstrong — and Olympic athletes are being nailed for cheating long after their medals were won, based on urine samples stored for years and the development of better tracing machinery.
It’s not certain how any of this will end. But one thing’s for sure: Doping punishment generally doesn’t fit the crime. Consider that steroid user and suspended journeyman outfielder Melky Cabrera served his 50 games last season, then quickly signed a two-year, $16 million deal with the Blue Jays, by far the biggest of his career.
Dope on, I guess.
◆ THINK ONLY PUNCHES and head-butts and dirty play matter in elite sport? Think gestures are irrelevant? Think Nazi Germany of 70 years ago has been forgotten?
Ponder this: AEK Athens midfielder Giorgos Katidis has been banned for life from any Greek national team for scoring the winning goal against rival Veria and making the Nazi salute in celebration. All the 20-year-old did was extend his right arm stiffly at a 45-degree angle, palm straight.
Done. Katidis pleaded for mercy, claiming he was ignorant of the salute’s meaning. No matter. Done.
Some things can’t be forgotten. Even if they’ve never been learned.
◆ FOOTBALL IS IN A FIGHT for its existence. I think you know this. The great American game is at odds with the development and care of the most precious thing a human has — the brain.
‘‘Heads up’’ rules, defenseless man rules, limited practice blocking and tackling rules — all that is nice. But the essence of football is contact. And if cumulative sub-concussive hits cause brain damage — which they do — then something far more than rule-tweaking and neurologists on the sideline is needed.
Here’s what Hall of Fame lineman Ron Mix wrote recently of the battering he took in college: ‘‘I was a great student in high school and got a very high score on my entrance exam when I went to USC on a football scholarship . . . I was in the highest 1 percent. But I knew when I left ’SC, I was no longer a 1-percenter. I absolutely knew it. I remember distinctly thinking, ‘Man, you don’t think quick enough anymore; your cognitive skills just aren’t any good.’ ’’
◆ I LIKE TO LEAVE YOU happy — my nature, I guess — so here’s nice news about salmon. The yummy fish, it has just been determined, migrate from the sea to spawning rivers via a sixth sense: perception of the global magnetic field.
Here’s the North Pole; here’s the South Pole; here’s your map. Researchers recently discovered that rainbow trout have tiny crystals of magnetite in them, the same mineral used in compass needles. Salmon likely have these crystals, too.
How cool is that?