Saturday, August 30, 2008
The 80,000-plus crowd that gathered for Barack Obama's Democratic nomination acceptance speech in Denver's Invesco Field on Thursday evening were thrilled about the event. The excitement in and around the stadium was inspiring and a tribute to the unity the candidate can invoke.
However, much of the contingent that supported Obama were somewhat disappointed that the DNC-promised Denver Broncos game to be held immediately after the speech was never played.
"I love Obama. I think he is exactly what this country needs. But you can't promise a Broncos game and not come through. That's not right," said Dave Mullen, 45, a Broncos fan from nearby Boulder, CO.
Obama did not mention the game during his speech but some supporters felt he did. "I could've sworn that he mentioned the Broncos. If he didn't say Broncos he definitely mentioned Elway," said Sally Frimton, 39, another Broncos fan from Sunny Spring, CO.
Obama denies promising a game and called the football fans of the Mile High city some of the most passionate and loyal in the country. He went on to say that coming to the stadium that night led some Broncos fans to convince themselves there was a game.
"I can understand," Obama said, "you[fans] are coming to a football stadium in a great football city and out of sheer habit you[fans] think there is a game. But really there was never a promise."
One diehard Broncos fan agreed. "We love our team here, but honestly there was no game promised. They wanted to believe there was. However, I will say that Obama should have mentioned coach Mike Shanahan somewhere in the speech," said fan Karen Stapleton, of Denver.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
For some sports, four years of training may be barley enough time to prepare a team or individual for an Olympics. Training methods are tested and retested and then tested again. Teams search for that slight advantage that could mean the difference between a gold and silver medal. Here is a look at some countries', in some cases extreme, training methods:
North Korea: The men's volleyball team was forced to play with a bowling ball to fine tune their serves.
Russia: The men's and women's pole vault teams practiced twice a week without a mat.
England: The track team ran on the opposite side of the track.
Australia: Worked very hard.
Japan: Tried to prepare everyday.
Jamaica: Also tried to prepare everyday.
France: Practiced everyday and trained hard.
Friday, August 22, 2008
The Dukes of Hazard admitted yesterday to leading the fight against the Russians after the invasion of Georgia earlier this month. In a surprise move, the Dukes joined forces with the law of of Hazard County, their longtime nemesis.
Uncle Jesse and JD Hogg shook hands and agreed to "rid the county of those Duke boys...I mean, Russians."
"It's amazing what can happen when you put a rag in the end of moonshine bottle, light it, and toss it at a tank," said Luke Duke. "Nowhere is there stronger moonshine than Hazard County. Nowhere!"
The Dukes were also able to take out two Russian Migs by jumping the the General Lee off a dirt-mound ramp and clipping the wings of the low-flying fighter jets. Meanwhile, Cooter climbed under several Russian tanks and drained the engine oil rendering the massive rolling weapons useless.
Factoring in Uncle Jesse's shotgun, Daisy's daisy dukes, and Rosco's dog flash, the Russians were clearly overmatched and never reached the intended target of Atlanta.
"A ga ga gggh," said a giddy Rosco.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Badminton is one of the most popular sports in China often called the second national sport behind ping pong or table tennis. Matches can see attendance soar over 25,000 with millions more taking play in by television.
However, in 2003 China almost lost badminton forever. This is the year when the country of 1.3 billion experienced a severe outbreak of avian influenza or bird flu.
As many may know badminton uses a birdie instead of a ball to hit back and forth between double or single players. In China the birdie is a small live bird that is restrained with rubber bands and then capped with a small, usually red "helmet."After the match the bird is tagged and released because no bird can ever be used twice for badminton.
The most popular bird to use in badminton are barn swallows, called zeng swallows in China. These small birds were very difficult to be found in 2003.
"They[zeng swallows] were all dieing. And with them the sport of badminton. The nation was in a crisis and we had to do something," said Ging Huan, president of the PROB(People's Republic of Badminton, through an interpreter.
Bird flu ravaged China's bird population to where the country's national team began using old, dented ping pong balls.
"It just wasn't the same as a birdie. They're much lighter. And the national ping pong team was always laughing at us," explained Hing Zen, a player on the badminton national team.
To save the sport the government called for "collection and protection" of the zeng swallows by the the general public. Citizens were expected to capture the birds and house them until a government official could collect them.
"It was very inspiring. The country pulled together to save badminton and that is why it still exists as a sport in China today," said Huan. "Oh...and we saved a buncha birds in the process."
Monday, August 18, 2008
Michael Phelps accomplished the unimaginable on Saturday night by winning his eighth gold medal in eight attempts. He has become one of the most recognizable and successful Olympic athletes of all time. NBC has made the swimmer the centerpiece of their coverage. However, he is not the only Phelps that NBC is interested in.
The network was inundated with email and phone calls applauding the coverage of Mrs. Phelps cheering and embracing her son from the stands inside the Water Cube. So much so that NBC has decided to give Mrs. Phelps her own reality TV show.
The show, Medaling Mom, will debut on NBC this fall on Thursday nights at 8:30pm ET. Mrs. Phelps will be shown attending swim meets all over the country, at all levels, where she will sit in the stands and critique and confront cheering mothers of the swimmers.
"I think it's a great opportunity. I will basically get into the mothers' business and tell them how they are doing as 'swim moms,'" said mother Phelps.
One stipulation in the contract states that she will not be filmed at her son's meets. "I will not be filmed trying to pass judgment on other parents at my son's meets. I won't stoop that low," said mother Phelps.
However, the contract does call for Mrs Phelps to wear a giant foam finger to all meets. She must also wear one of Michael's eight gold medals to every meet she attends. And at least once during a meet, must point at the gold medal with the giant finger.
Michael appeared happy for his mother and didn't think she was stealing attention. "I think it's great. I was just happy they changed the original format of the show."
Phelps is referring to the idea producers first pitched to his mother. It called for her to travel the country attending meets and working a stand where fans would take a blindfolded taste test of Coke and Pepsi.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Garry Montorsi's dream of competing in the Beijing Games as a coxswain for the Canadian men's heavy weight eight rowing team came to an end yesterday morning.
The Olympic Governing Body (OGB) ruled that the device Montorsi uses to speak, because of years of heavy smoking, gives him an unfair advantage over other coxswains competing in the games.
"It's not fair to the other athletes here in Beijing," said Yuri Fetisov, an OGB official. "With the device, his voice is very crisp and clear and somewhat louder."
Some coxswains agreed with the OGB decision. "During practice yesterday I heard Montorsi yelling 'stroke, stroke.' It was just so damn clear and understandable," said Australia's men's heavy weight eight coxswain Clinton Thomas.
Montorsi, 22,was born with a rare smoking problem. "I smoked from the time I was 6 or 7. It was just a problem I was born with," said Montorsi. "I had a doctor's note to smoke in class and on the playground. But never really learned to smoke in the pool."
So intense is his habit that he often smoked on board the scull while shouting signals, using his electrical voice box, for the rowers when he first began in the sport. Montorsi attempted to hold the cigarette out to the side so secondhand smoke would not drift into the rower's faces.
"He had a device to help him speak but on the top of it was a hole to place a cigarette. So he could talk and smoke," said Hal Garren, his coach at Winnipeg State University in Manitoba, Canada.
Because of the heavy smoking, Montorsi lost his voice around the age of 12 and became a coxswain at the age of of 15. He admitted that it was difficult in the beginning, but later he learned to accept his new voice device.
"In middle school [my friends and I] would go to the supermarket and I would yell,'Clean up in aisle four.' Minutes later store employees would arrive at a clean aisle. We would all crack up. At baseball games I would yell, 'And now batting...'" said a smiling Montorsi.
The OGB realizes this was a difficult decision and has offered Montorsi and his family a ten-day all-expense-paid vacation to Hong Kong and Nanjing.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Record-setting men's US swimmer Michael Phelps has decided to swim the remainder of his Olympic races while wearing sneakers. This is a decision made by Phelps and not by the International Olympic Committee.
"I just want to see if I can still set records in sneakers," said a smiling Phelps. "It might level the playing field somewhat."
In the past the IOC(International Olympic Committe) has limited dominant athletes in some way to create more parity and closer competition to increase television audiences.
For example the IOC forced Mark Spitz to don a mustache during the 1972 Olympics in Mexico in an attempt to slow the gold medalist down. Swimmers are known to shave their entire body for better aerodynamics. However, the mustache(It later became known as the Speedstache) wasn't able to level the field.
"Phelps is so good that we didn't think that anything would hinder his march to history," said IOC president, Carl Kyle.
Phelps vehemently denied that his recent endorsement deal with Nike required him to swim at least two Olympic races in the athletic company's sneakers.
When asked what brand of sneakers he would be wearing Phelps gave a smile and asked,"Does it really matter?"
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Friday, August 8, 2008
The Chinese government confirmed that superstar basketball player Yao Ming will carry movie star Jackie Chan during the opening ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics. Ming will also carry the Chinese flag, an honor usually awarded to a country's most recognizable athlete. Before being bestowed this honor Ming was planning to carry a flag with a print of Jackie Chan.
"I will now carry the real Jackie and my country's flag, what an honor," said Ming, center for the Houston Rockets.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
The Chinese have spent almost $47 billion in preparation for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The spending is a record for the athletic event and has been used to construct and improve athletic facilities, mass transit systems including subways, new highways, hotels and a general citywide clean up.
However, almost none of the $47 billion has been earmarked for security. The city and country feel existing safeguards are sufficient for the games.
"We have this giant wall and an entire army of clay warriors. We really didn't think spending money on more security was justifiable," said Yang Juang, an Olympic security adviser.
Juang is referring to the Great Wall of China which is less than 50 miles north of Beijing. The wall stretches for more than 4,000 miles and would be very difficult for any terrorist to negotiate if coming from the north on foot.
The statue warriors mentioned by Juang are stationed in Xi'an which is nearly 600 miles to the southwest of the capital. Officials hope the Terracotta Warriors, as they are called, will deter terrorist activity simply with their intimidating posture and stare.
"If terrorists or harm-doers were able to make it past the Wall, highly unlikely, then the warriors would be waiting for them in Xi'an and could make it to the Capital in less than a week. They are made of the toughest terracotta on the planet and terracotta can scare the meanest person," said Juang.
Monday, August 4, 2008
On Saturday afternoon near 86th and the bay in Sea Isle City, NJ Coast Guard officials attempted to direct a stray dolphin toward the Townsend's inlet and back into the Atlantic Ocean. The Coast Guard was unsure how long the dolphin had been in the bay, but the mammal was attracting a large crowd both on land and on the water.
Speed boats, kayaks, sailboats, jet skis and other water craft gathered near the dolphin to get a better glimpse. However, boaters did not have to do much as the very social "fish" visited many of the vessels up close to say hello and put a Sea World-type show on for some.
"It was amazing! He came up next to our boat and popped his head out and he let everyone on board pet him," said Sarah Hillsdale, visiting from Cherry Hill, NJ.
The dolphin would then dive under the bay water for several minutes and surface next to another watercraft to start the show all over again.
There was one boat that the dolphin did not include on its visits: the Coast Guard speed boat.
"It was very noticeable. Just basically ignored the orange boat. Maybe it's scared of orange or something," reasoned Jeff Ilgalsciss, owner of the boat "Made of the Fist."
Through out the ordeal the Coast Guard was announcing, via loud speaker, to the boat crowd not to touch the dolphin and not to chase it further from the inlet.
Timmy McKitt, 11, aboard the "Waves and Daves," admitted to trying to stick a Dorito in the mammal's blow hole. "I didn't mean to do it. Even if I meant it I thought it would be able to chew it with its blow hole teeth. Plus it was cool ranch, anyway."
"We were just very frustrated that the dolphin was ignoring us. It was making us look so bad. It wouldn't come over to us to say 'hello' and that was considered a threat to the coast," said General Bradley Sorono.
The Coast Guard has its own color code for terror level: orange for orange-level terror, red for red-level terror, and magenta for magenta-level terror.
Though the three crew members could not agree on a threat level each felt "the porpoise had a purpose." It was at this point that the dolphin was shot...with a telephoto lens so its image could be added to the organization's "Threat Website."
Friday, August 1, 2008
Olympic officials in Beijing, the site of this year's summer games, have hired former U.S. swimmer Mark Spitz to assist in its Anti-spitting campaign. The nine-time gold medal winner (1968 and 1972 games) is set to arrive in China on August 3 and has already taken part in marketing photos and ads.
With hordes of tourists and fans descending on China's capital for the two week event, government officials have been asking citizens to stop, or at least reduce, spitting--a common Chinese habit.
"We hired Mark to come in here and do a series of lectures on spitting and why it's not such a great habit. It just makes sense," said Jun Shan, Beijing's Olympic Committee vice president. "Given his last name he must be an expert."
Chinese officials fear that westerners visiting the city could be turned off by locals spitting and line cutting.
"I've never lectured before in my life, so I have a hunch that they hired me solely for my last name," said Spitz, who agreed that spitting can be a nasty habit. "For fifty grand and a free trip to Beijing I'll go around telling people that spitting is bad."
Posters and billboards are already strewn throughout the city picturing Spitz, arms folded, frowning at a blemish on the sidewalk. Another ad shows Spitz with a ready-to-spit Yao Ming and the swimmer's bobble finger moving back and forth to indicate unacceptable behavior.
Though resident's are curbing the habit, ten lucky Beijingers will be chosen to extinguish the Olympic flame, at the end of the games, by spitting.