A GRIP ON SPORTS
I just have one question. If the participants are wearing makeup, are they participating in a sport? Read on.
• There was some fun television to watch last night, from a couple of Simpsons' episodes I had yet to see to a guilty pleasure football movie in which Mark Wahlberg is invincible. But none of that mattered. The Olympics were on. Pardon me, Olympic women's gymnastics were on. Yep, the U.S. women were competing. And Kim had command of the hotel television. Now don't get me wrong. Ever since I was a boy I've felt gymnastics was the epitome of sports, in that the competitors had to be, pound-for-pound, the strongest, most coordinated, most explosive people in athletics. But that was then. This is now and female gymnastics has turned into “Dancing With the Stars,” except the performers on “Dancing With the Stars” wear less makeup and do fewer fake hugs. It baffles me why this has to be the case. What these young women do physically speaks for itself. They are athletes in the truest sense of the word. But because of the way the sport is presented, the importance of how they look, how they act, how they play to the crowd and judges, it makes it harder to appreciate how they explode off the floor, the way they can balance themselves on a beam the width of a candy bar, their ability to fly through the air, twisting, turning, tumbling and then landing like Spiderman. Now that's worth watching. Not the post-routine air-hugs (Kim tells me they can't really touch because they might ruin their makeup) or the shots of each competitor anxiously waiting for their score (something they can't control by then). Sorry, the made-for-TV aspect of the sport turns me off. … But, wait, there's more. You are hosting an Olympics. You are trying to find the best in your sport from around the world. You pick the best 24 competitors to determine the all-around champion. But not really. You only allow two athletes from each country. So maybe your score was fourth-best in the qualifying competition, but you're not headed to the final because two of the three ahead of you came from your country. Too bad. You've heard the NCAA analogies; there is no need to repeat them. All I'll say is the powers-that-be in this sport aren't interested in picking a true champion. All they are interested in is making sure the most countries are represented, ensuring the widest-ranging television audience they can and attracting the most viewers from around the world. It's about the show, not the competition. And that's too bad.
• Washington State: There are more than a few bobbleheads in my house. Ichiro, Ken Griffey Jr., Ronny Turiaf, Homer Simpson. But I don't believe I have one of a coach. That may change in October. Mike Leach will be immortalized as a bobblehead. Enough said. … Jeff Tuel is Ted Miller's No. 25 in the ESPN.com writer's list of top 25 players in the Pac-12 this season. … Arizona is happy Matt Scott decided to redshirt last season. … The kicking game is the focus of these Oregon and Oregon State previews. … ASU has some areas of strength.
• Indians: After finishing last in the first half of the Northwest League season, Spokane is now tied for first in its division in the second half. Jess Brown has the particulars after the Indians shutout Yakima for the second consecutive day, this time 3-0.
• Shock: The Arizona Rattlers will take a playoff win no matter how ugly it is.
• Preps: Not all that good a day for local teams in the state American Legion baseball tournaments, though one team won.
• Mariners: I'm not sure if any Mariner fans own brooms or would have thought to bring them to Safeco on Sunday, but they could have waved them as the M's swept a four-game series for the first time since 2001, winning Sunday 7-6. OK, it was only the Royals (sorry Brett), but it was a sweep. And, yes, with Felix on the mound, the M's made it harder than it needed to be, but it was a sweep. And, yes, the M's youngsters played big roles in the weekend and that may not continue, but it was a sweep.
• Seahawks: The Hawks' defensive secondary knows it needs to keep improving, Sidney Rice knows he needs to get healthy and Golden Tate needs to step up. But it's training camp and all things are possible. … By the way, I'm in Flagstaff right now en route to a tour of the Grand Canyon and there are a bunch of Cardinals around. Not the birds, but the football team. It's training camp at a secluded college town, just like what used to happen in Cheney with the Hawks. Miss those days.
• I'll tell you, thunderstorms are impressive wherever you are, whether it's on the Palouse or in the middle of Kansas. But until you've experienced the true majesty of a storm more than a mile high in the mountains, you haven't seen power of those beasts. We saw enough yesterday for our fill. Hopefully, they'll hit somewhere else today and let us have peace. Until later …