The Closing ceremonies are over, the flame at the Bird's Nest is extinguished, and the sports world is back to its summer doldrums again. Or not. If there's one thing about sports, it's that the sports world is just as crazy as the real world, if not more so. Here are a few of the strange sports stories that have emerged just in the short time since the Olympics ended:
- LPGA will require tour participants to speak English by 2009, or face suspension.
Sometimes sports have gone over-board with political correctness (see some of the NCAA mascot decisions). But that doesn't mean that commissioners have to swing back the other way.
Apparently, the LPGA will suspend any player that doesn't speak a minimum level of English, starting in 2009. I understand that doing interviews isn't rocket science. It like multiple choice: if you win you say "These ladies are amazing, but today I just stayed within myself and I got the win." If you lose you say "I did my best but _____ was just better today." And so on.
On the other hand, giving tests on oral comprehension is going a bit far. I don't know for sure, but I'm fairly confident that Josh Childress' Greek is not wonderful. Sure he can brush up, but what if he transposed a verb ending in a press conference and was suspended until he underwent tutoring?
Yes, the LPGA pays (mostly Korean) foreigners to play in the U.S. But they're paid to play golf. What if Yao had been forced to drop his translator if he was to be drafted? (see picture: "You want to force me to speak English before I'm ready?"). Besides, who really cares about press conferences? Only ESPN News does.
And if some little girl wants to grow up to be like a golfer she sees on TV, what message does this send? That you have to speak English to be worthy of emulation?
This rule sets a bad precedent for other sports (although I doubt other commissioners would even consider this). However, Sammy Sosa, who apparently forgets English whenever he hears the words "steroids" or "cork," might need some brush-up tutoring after all.
- Some Chinese newspapers take offense at London mayor's demeanor at the Closing Ceremonies.
Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, was quite a (controversial) character in Britain. Now, he has some Chinese riled up as well. As many people noticed at the Closing Ceremonies, Johnson was sloppily-dressed compared to the Chinese officials and Jacques Rogge. This was taken as a sign of disrespect for the Games, and as an extension, the Chinese in general. Judging from some photos of his mayoral campaign, they're probably lucky he bothered combing his hair.
- Nine-year-old banned from Youth Baseball League for throwing too hard.
Young children should be protected from serious injury, especially to the head. But this is not the reason that the supposedly rational adults gave for banning the player and breaking up his team. No, the reason was that he was too good. There's not much more to say, except that the Hawai'ian team that won the Little League World Series didn't shrink from some of the best competition they can face at their age. They actually competed, and guess what? They won.
- Judge will soon rule in Cal Athletic Center case (for the 937th time).
The clock is still ticking. Since the UC Board of Regents approved the facility in December of 2006, there have been numerous lawsuits, injunctions, appeals, and all sorts of stuff that makes lawyers money. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of dollars are being wasted, visiting fans (as well as locals) are frightened by the crazy tree sitters (although there are only four fanatics left at this point). Recruits may be un-nerved as well: Stanford is easily out-recruiting Cal early (although Tedford got his choice QB as usual).
Once the facility is started, recruits will come, and Tedford supporters won't feel the need to beg him to stay. But before that can happen, two hurdles remain: a local judgement, and a State court ruling on the appeal. The Berkeley community is no stranger to, well, strange things, but very rarely does a public fight like this develop over a privately-funded athletic facility.