Sports Women

Homage to Zenyatta

Zenyatta. Tall. Graceful. Dignified.

Today at 6:45 p.m. EST, the Breeder’s Cup will be run at Churchill Downs in Kentucky. Zenyattawill run in this race; the only mare in a sea of testosterone-filled male racehorses, and she is bigger physically than all of them. This will be her twentieth race , and she has won all nineteen of the races she ran prior to this one. This is also her last race. Normally I would write about her tomorrow after her history is permanently penned, but I want to make sure that all the women in the country watch her today and thank her for the gifts she gives us.

She was purchased for a mere $60,000 when she was one year old, four and a half years ago. She had a skin condition which made her not so pretty, hence her low purchase price. She didn’t run in the Kentucky Derby, her trainer says, because “she matured late and wasn’t ready yet.” I get that. I am just getting ready to run my races now, and I’m fifty-seven.

She is very quiet and gentle off the track. She plays with kids, never moves unless necessary (I so get that), and she doesn’t have the thoroughbred angst most racehorses have, both on and off the track. She drinks a Guinness every day, and no other beer interests her.

Then she hits the track. She does a prancing dance that is really beautiful to watch, and I’m confident Alvin Ailey would do something like it if he were still alive. I love watching it. She comes out of the gate slowly—really slowly—and is always last for the first part of the race. Then she turns it on. She lowers her whole body and takes off, seemingly loving the passing of her competition, rather than just getting to the finish line first. She is ruthless, and has nineteen times run each race the same way, and won. Nineteen in a row. From behind.

I love Zenyatta. I love her grace. My favorite word is grace, and she has it. I love that she isn’t afraid to compete against the boys but doesn’t always need to show her toughness. She can bring it when she needs to and be the ‘lady’ when she wants to.

I have always struggled with the feminine question of when to be the girl and when to let out the competitive spirit that takes no prisoners. Not to kill the competition, but simply to beat it. She has mastered it, and I think of her often in business and in my personal life. She is my personal heroine. Oprah put her in Oprah magazine’s list of the most powerful women in the world. Good choice, Ms. O.

Today is her last race. I’m sure they will breed her. Her jockey, Mike Smith, who has ridden her in all her races, says she still has never put it all out there—she hasn’t needed to. He says she will do it today. He also said there is no male worthy of her. I like that too. I hope you will all watch her. I hope you will all thank her for the gifts she has given me, and I’m sure many other women.

Good luck today, Zenyatta. Win girlfriend. And thank you so very much.


Nike’s Tiger Ad

Are you kidding me?

Nike stayed with Tiger Woods through this mess and released their ad yesterday at the beginning of the Masters. The ad is a picture of Tiger just looking into the camera (black and white video) and a voice over by his father (apparently his real voice) saying he likes to deal with things inquisitively and his questions are, “How do you feel?” “What did you learn?” “How will you deal moving forward?”

So, you take the dead man’s voice (this is worse than my blog Tuesday about the Dead Man’s Recipes), and you have him speaking from heaven and that’s the ad? That’s the Nike’s answer to this mess? Tiger’s answer? I wonder what his mother thinks.

Nike’s mission statement is “to bring innovation and inspiration to every athlete in the world”. Alrighty then. I did not find this inspiring, but it was innovative. Yep, it was. Innovation means ahead of the times. (Don’t argue with me. I looked it up.) This ad is ahead of the times. No one has brought a dead man back from the grave to save his son’s dying reputation. It was a bold move.

So, I’m not sure what I really think about the ad, although please inform my child that if I should die and she should do something awful, please do not bring my voice back to speak to her if she should happen to need an ad-way back to fortune and fame. Let me rest in peace.

Here is what Tiger needs to do. Tiger needs to show up, do his best this week, and leave it all alone. Strange that we don’t hear from him for months, he then shows up to play in the Masters and hasn’t stopped talking since. Keep your mouth shut, Mr. Woods, and do your job which is what we should be looking at anyway. I’m so over this. And, really isn’t it about your score on Sunday anyway?

And, Nike? Change agencies. But I’m not sure about that.


Lindsey Vonn’s First Gold

So after all the hype (not that I’m challenging her injury at all) about the bruise, Ms. Lindsey won her first gold at the Olympics yesterday. Good for you Lindsey. You go girl.

Now, let’s talk. Here are the facts.

She announced long before the race (days) that she might not be able to compete.

She refused to get an x-ray to see if her leg was fractured. She said it was because she didn’t really want to know.

We heard daily for one week about the injury and so did her competition. We even heard about the cheesecloth remedy.

Then she blew the entire field out of the water by more than a half second (which in football terms would be like winning 100-10).

“What is your point, Christine?” I hear you ask.

Well, I’m not sure, but what happened to not wearing your weakness on your shirtsleeve in public? How many athletes are in pain or in physical trouble when they are competing and we don’t know? “There is no complaining in Olympic sport.”

My ex and I used to play a lot of tennis; mixed doubles. He was a racquet thrower. Ok, maybe he didn’t throw his racquet a lot but I remember one time he missed a shot and yelled, “Did you see that bird!?” I looked up at the roof of the indoor court we were playing in, and I said, “Why no, dearest love, I did not see that bird.” Anyway, once we were playing on opposite sides with a very prominent banking personage and his wife. My ex yelled something or other, and my partner turned to me and said. “I am surprised he does that, I would never want my competition to see that I was upset at missing a shot. It gives them such an advantage.”

He was right of course, and I try to remember that lesson – not just in sports which I really no longer do – but in life.  Don’t give that co-worker the knowledge that they upset you, and so on.

The problem with all the hype about Lindsey is that it really took away from her success yesterday in my humble, I have no right to even have an opinion about Lindsey Vonn, opinion. Now, especially because she never got an x-ray, people are questioning whether she was injured or not. And, her exposure of a weakness so openly becomes a tactic rather than a simple statement of reality.

At any rate, you go Lindsey Vonn! Congrats on the gold. I hope you continue this successful quest for skiing greatness, you deserve it. And, just for the record, I’m not interested in hearing about the leg anymore. Sorry.


Christine Goes to Watch Hockey

Last night I went to my first hockey game. I didn’t really want to go, but someone I work with who can tell me I have to do things sort of roped me in. I found myself grudgingly at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and LA Live (fabulous place!!!!) for dinner and then the game.

I’d like to introduce the new me. My name is Christine, and I love hockey. I mean I love hockey.

I thought it would be violent and repetitive and full of sloppy men with beer bellies (no judgement, I swear) screaming with paint on their faces. It wasn’t any of those things. It was like ballet but better. The fluidity of the way they were on the ice; the gymnastic prowess of the goalie. I’m hooked. It’s fast, and it’s exciting, and I now have a national team I can follow with hope they will move to the finals or whatever the end of the hockey road is called each season.

A Canadian who was with us said of one of the players on the way home, “he is a good skater and handles the stick well.” I can see there are things to learn about how to refer to things in hockey. Like every sport, there is a language that goes with the sport. I’m going to work on it over the weekend.

Apparently it was one of the most exciting games ever. It went into overtime where one player from each team skates in and shoots to score. In the end, after ten – yes ten! – tries, my team, the Los Angeles Kings lost to the Canadian-some-city-or-other Oilers (Oilers? Why would they name a team Oilers? I looked it up. An oiler is someone who keeps machinery lubricated. I don’t think we want to go there) with a stunning shot into our goal.

The timing of the guys one on one quest against the goalie was awesome. The moment when they shoot. The way they have to wait until just the right moment of release. It was so beautiful.

I’m a convert.

My name is Christine, and I’m a hockey fan. Who’da thunk? I always thought those people are silly. But now, my personal team, the Los Angeles Kings, are going to be a part of my day to day routine. I will follow them in the news. I will buy one of their shirts. I will watch the games on TV. I might even pick a player – not sure yet – to covet and find out when his birthday is and send him a card. My life has changed. I have joined the ranks of Americans who have a sports team that I call mine.

Yikes. Could it be? I’m a fan! Wonders never cease.


Biggest Loser Goes to the Olympics

Who knew there was an Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs? I love the Olympics. I do. I love the competition, learning about the athletes from all over the world. I love women’s figure skating and the memories of watching it with my now grown up daughter.

I was watching the Biggest Loser last night. Don’t laugh. It’s a great show. Really great. Anyway, they went to the training center in Colorado to train with the Olympians. But I was sad. I didn’t know there was an Olympian training village. While I recognize that US Olympic athletes no longer train in their backyards rising from training obscurity to the height of the three-tiered stand with a gold medal around their neck, it never occurred to me they train in an old Air Force Base at the expense of those of us who donated money to the Olympic Committee.

Do you think Kenya has an Olympic Center like ours? I will not feel quite as good about our gold medals now that I know there is a leg up that big being an American athlete. As I said, I’m not stupid, and I did realize we have assistance, but if I’d known how much assistance, I might have trained harder when I was a swimmer in the sixth grade. Ok, that’s a lie. My skin was wrinkly and dry when I swam, and the Lake Erie Pepsi Cola Swim Team never really singled me out as a winner the way they did Buzzy Haggerty, my friend who joined the same time I did. I never really loved swimming back and forth, back and forth, and back and forth. So I respect those that do it over and over and over and over again. Actually, that’s a lie too. I sometimes think they must be stupid. Michael Phelps? He swims eight hours a day, eats a lot (that’s cool but not exactly intellectually stimulating), sleeps and apparently goes to the bathroom. But if he’s honest he probably pees in the pool. Let’s get real.

I was talking to my Uncle yesterday, who is a sailor – a commodore actually at his yacht club of old, and he was saying that Jessica’s quest as the youngest person around the world is tainted by the fact that she’s not really doing it herself. She has people behind the scenes calling the shots, deciding her course, plotting the weather, and she is really just along for the ride. Not the same as days gone by without GPS systems. Well, he’s right of course, and it reminds me of the Olympics and our leg up that means we are really graduate athletes competing with sixth graders in some cases who don’t have the same base line from which they begin.

Ok, I’m not a Debbie Downer right? I will still watch, but I’m going to root for Jamaica’s Bob Sledding Team with a new knowledge that they probably came further than our guys.

Let the games begin.

Movies & TV Sports

Following the Superbowl

What follows the Super Bowl? How does TV help you off the football adrenaline rush of the biggest game of the year?

Lassie? Who would have thought? Weren’t little kids like me asleep by then? Did the guys watching the bowl stay tuned for Timmy and Lassie? Interesting.

In 1969, it was the GE College Bowl. In the 70’s it was sometimes 60 Minutes. Then it heads downhill. I am embarrassed by this last decade of strong shows that followed the Super Bowl. Come on guys… The office, Survivor (did I ever mention I applied to Survivor once?) Our taste in television has digressed for sure!

At any rate, take a walk down Memory Lane below and see what you remember. Thanks Wikipedia for the info.

Date Super Bowl Network Program Episode Actual start time
(p.m. ET)
U.S. viewers
January 15, 1967 Super Bowl I CBS
Lassie[citation needed]
Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color[citation needed]
“Lassie’s Litter Bit” (Lassie)
January 14, 1968 Super Bowl II CBS Local programming, then
Lassie[citation needed]
“The Foundling”
January 12, 1969 Super Bowl III NBC The G.E. College Bowl[citation needed]
January 11, 1970 Super Bowl IV CBS Lassie[citation needed] “The Road Back”
January 17, 1971 Super Bowl V NBC Bing Crosby Pro-Am Golf Tournament[citation needed]
January 16, 1972 Super Bowl VI CBS 60 Minutes[citation needed]
January 14, 1973 Super Bowl VII NBC Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom[citation needed]
January 13, 1974 Super Bowl VIII CBS Local programming, then
The New Perry Mason[citation needed]
“The Case of the Tortured Titan”
January 12, 1975 Super Bowl IX NBC NBC Nightly News[citation needed]
January 18, 1976 Super Bowl X CBS Phoenix Open Golf Tournament[citation needed]
January 9, 1977 Super Bowl XI NBC The Wonderful World of Disney[citation needed] Raid on Entebbe
January 15, 1978 Super Bowl XII CBS All in the Family[citation needed] “Archie and the Super Bowl”
January 21, 1979 Super Bowl XIII NBC Brothers and Sisters[citation needed] “Pilot”
January 20, 1980 Super Bowl XIV CBS 60 Minutes[citation needed]
January 25, 1981 Super Bowl XV NBC CHiPs[citation needed] “11-99: Officer Needs Help” (originally aired January 18, 1981)
January 24, 1982 Super Bowl XVI CBS Archie Bunker’s Place[citation needed] “The Night Visitor” (originally aired January 17, 1982)
January 30, 1983 Super Bowl XVII NBC The A-Team[1] Mexican Slayride” (two-hour pilot)
January 22, 1984 Super Bowl XVIII CBS Airwolf[1] Shadow of the Hawke” (two-hour pilot)
January 20, 1985 Super Bowl XIX ABC MacGruder and Loud[1] Unknown
January 26, 1986 Super Bowl XX NBC The Last Precinct[1] “Pilot”
January 25, 1987 Super Bowl XXI CBS Hard Copy[1] “Pilot”
January 31, 1988 Super Bowl XXII ABC The Wonder Years[1] “Pilot”
January 22, 1989 Super Bowl XXIII NBC Brotherhood of the Rose Television movie (part 1; two hours)
January 28, 1990 Super Bowl XXIV CBS Grand Slam[1] “He Works Hard for the Money” (Pilot)
January 27, 1991 Super Bowl XXV ABC Davis Rules[1] “A Man for All Reasons” (Pilot)
January 26, 1992 Super Bowl XXVI CBS 60 Minutes
48 Hours
60 Minutes was an abbreviated 13-minute edition and was apparently a last-minute addition to the schedule, consisting of an interview of Bill and Hillary Clinton addressing the Gennifer Flowers affair.[2][3]
The length (i.e., 47 or 60 minutes) of the edition of 48 Hours which followed is not clear.
January 31, 1993 Super Bowl XXVII NBC Homicide: Life on the Street Gone for Goode” (Pilot)
January 30, 1994 Super Bowl XXVIII NBC The Good Life “Paul Dates a Buddhist” (first episode aired)[4]
January 29, 1995 Super Bowl XXIX ABC Extreme “Pilot” 20
January 28, 1996 Super Bowl XXX NBC Friends The One After the Superbowl” (Parts 1 and 2) 10:13 52
January 26, 1997 Super Bowl XXXI Fox The X-Files Leonard Betts 29
January 25, 1998 Super Bowl XXXII NBC 3rd Rock from the Sun 36! 24! 36! Dick” (Parts 1 and 2) 33
January 31, 1999 Super Bowl XXXIII Fox The Simpsons
Family Guy
Sunday, Cruddy Sunday
Death Has a Shadow” (Pilot)
January 30, 2000 Super Bowl XXXIV ABC The Practice New Evidence 23
January 28, 2001 Super Bowl XXXV CBS Survivor: The Australian Outback “Stranded” (season premiere)[5] 10:16 45
February 3, 2002 Super Bowl XXXVI Fox Malcolm in the Middle Company Picnic” (Parts 1 and 2) Approx. 10:50 21
January 26, 2003 Super Bowl XXXVII ABC Alias Phase One 11:00 17.4[6]
February 1, 2004 Super Bowl XXXVIII CBS Survivor: All-Stars “They’re Back!” (season premiere)[5] 33
February 6, 2005 Super Bowl XXXIX Fox The Simpsons
American Dad!
Homer and Ned’s Hail Mary Pass
February 5, 2006 Super Bowl XL ABC Grey’s Anatomy It’s the End of the World Approx. 10:20 38
February 4, 2007 Super Bowl XLI CBS Criminal Minds The Big Game Approx. 10:30 26
February 3, 2008 Super Bowl XLII Fox House[7] Frozen Approx. 10:40 29[8]
February 1, 2009 Super Bowl XLIII NBC The Office[9] Stress Relief” (one-hour episode) 10:43 22[10]
February 7, 2010 Super Bowl XLIV CBS Undercover Boss[11]

Super Bowl Sunday

This is that weekend that comes every year when that football game that everyone watches comes on TV. The best part is that the movie theaters are empty and if you want to drive somewhere, it’s the perfect day to worry not about traffic. The Super Bowl is the most widely viewed television show during the year.

I have to be honest. I don’t get it. Granted, last year’s half time performance by The Boss was spectacular, but you can turn that on half way through and see it as a show unto itself. It’s not like it has anything to do with football. And, the ads? A week of press leading up to some stupid beer ad really makes me smile. Fools.

And, while I’m on a roll, what’s with the word Super Bowl? Bowl? A bowl is a round object that holds things. It has nothing to do with football, and it just irks me in some subliminal way. Call things what they are. Football Finals. Football Madness. But bowl? Whatever.

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m all for tradition. I love making Christmas cookies for the holidays, and I love that I eat turkey only once a year at Thanksgiving, and even the groundhog tradition makes me smile and tells me that another year has passed. But let’s get a grip here. Putting two boxes in a tiger’s cage; each one with the team uniform for the two teams playing in the Super Bowl and watching to see which one the tiger tears apart to predict the loser is a bit much, right? Not convinced? They do the same thing with orangutans and team helmets to see which one he puts on to predict the winner.

I thought last year’s Super Bowl could have been sort of cool because I’m a mother and the two quarterbacks were brothers, and I kept thinking about how proud their mom must have been. I also wondered which one she was rooting for. Trust me, she likes one better than the other. I just know it. But they didn’t interview her, or even show her much, so I lost interest. She was in a lose lose situation for sure.

To be honest, I don’t even know who is playing this year. Because I am from NYC, I would have liked it if the Jets made it, but alas, they did not, so I seriously do not know. My brain can’t remember as much as it used to, and these days I have to be very discriminatory when choosing what I will remember and what is irrelevant to world peace or the greater good of those I love, so the Super Bowl teams doesn’t make it through the ‘what to file’ list.

I don’t feel this way about the World Seriers, although I did do a blog about American Idol being as important and loved as the World Series which was highly criticised by those around me. Maybe the fact there is a song (take me out to the ball game) from my childhood that makes me smile, or the fact that a good hot dog now and then is one of life’s great moments, that has something to do with it. As far as I know, there is no food association with football, and for sure no song. They ought to re-think that. It’s a great marketing opportunity. Maybe Buffalo Beef Jerkies or something? And, “let me freeze my ass off at the stadium” could be the song.

Either way, I will tape the game on Sunday and most likely roll through it to find the half time show and the commercials. If I have offended you, please accept my apologies.


Jessica Watson: Around the World Alone on a Boat

Have you heard about Jessica Watson? She’s sixteen and going around the world on a sail boat by herself. The scariest thing I did when I was sixteen was letting Rick Kaufman climb in my bedroom window in the middle of the night to make out. It was really fun. For me, it was funner than taking eight months away from friends and sailing around the world alone. But different strokes for different folks.

There is much controversy about her doing this. It seems on her way to the start of the trip she hit another boat – a large 20,000 ton cargo ship. It broke her mast in two. She didn’t have all her equipment that sends out alarms if you are near another ship turned on. She was asleep below and was very, very lucky. I must say that if I had been asleep below I would have turned on every single tool I had to let me know if anyone was approaching. And, I would have had loudspeakers tolling out the news that I was near at decibels not even on the radar screen, so to speak. But that’s just me.

So, there has been much ado about whether she is qualified, too young, or endangering her life or the life of others. I am of two minds on this front.

When you watch the videos of her on her website, she seems either low key and not concerned or on Valium the way I am when I fly. She’s a cutie patootie, and I’m sure that’s why she seems to have such strong sponsors. She appears in control and very competent. But who the hell knows?

The rules are simple. She has to do the trip with no help from ships or people. She is not allowed to come into port and disembark, and if she does, she is not allowed to say she completed the trip solo. She will be the youngest person to have done it if she completes the trip, and her goal includes doing it faster than the person who presently holds the record and did it when he was seventeen.

“What about school?” I hear you ask. Dunno. Perhaps this is the best schooling she can have. Judging from her spelling and grammar, it wasn’t a strong suit for her anyway.

The thing I keep thinking about is her footing. I have sailed a lot with my aunt and uncle and have been on their boats for days and nights at a time; like maybe five at the most. When you step on land having not been on it for a few days, your footing is very strange. Imagine eight months? Not so much.

Adventure in this new world we live in usually comes through online scary games. Real adventure is hard to come by. Real physical challenges to do what no one before you has done are worth something for sure. I think if my daughter wanted to do what Jessica is doing, I would have supported her doing it. I might have had a shadow boat follow her a mile away, which surely would have changed the tenor of the entire adventure, but a Mom’s gotta do what a Mom’s gotta do.

You go Jessica. I bid you blue skies and swells just scary enough to make sure the critics can say you were challenged and won. I will continue to watch your progress. And, Rick Kaufman, for those of you wondering, ended up going to Alaska and living in the wild by himself like the Una-bomber. So, climbing in my bedroom window when we were sixteen was the beginning of his risk taking for sure. I myself never did another scary thing.


Tiger and the Woods Again

When we last left the Tiger through the Woods post from last week, he was accused of having an indiscretion, and I mentioned the forest for the trees and that we need to leave this man and his family in peace while they figure out their problems. I vowed to stay away from reading the fray and to rise above the smut.

Look, I don’t respect those who project one thing and live another. I try these days to live a more authentic life than that, and those who go that direction tend to make me want to do the same thing. So, I try and stay away from them.

That said, let’s talk about Tiger and his real accomplishments. Tiger did not cure cancer. He didn’t even give away a significant portion of his money to cure cancer. He is very good at taking a long stick and hitting a ball into a hole in the shortest number of strokes possible. Now it turns out he does the same thing in his personal life. How’s that working for you Tiger? And, while I get it takes a certain talent to play golf, it doesn’t make you worthy of weeks of press headlines. I’m sure there is a hero in Iraq who deserves more headlines than Tiger.

They keep asking if Tiger will recover from this? Huh? Will America recover? We took yet another illusion of a human being and made it a reality. We bought stupid cars from a bankrupt company because he said to. I understand buying a golf club because he said to; the man knows what clubs work and what clubs don’t. But drinks? And cars? And running shoes? The lesson here is to us, not to Tiger. Stop offering our sports stars up as anything other than what they are – good at their sport.

How many need fall before we get that what a person does in their public life belongs to us and what they do in their private life does not. Let’s look back. There was Kobe Bryant. There was Michael Phelps. And, so on. It’s shame on us yet again. I have never bought anything because someone famous told me to.

May I add that I’m glad she apparently is leaving him. I  assume she will head back to Norway, or Denmark or wherever she comes from and try to regroup for her life to move somewhere forward. You go girl, and do not allow yourself to be a victim. It’s so debilitating.

Relationships Sports

Tiger in the Woods

Get it, Tiger in the Woods? Really it’s not about Tiger in the woods, as much as its about not seeing the forest for the trees.

Listen up. We have a fabulous opportunity here. We can rise above our lowlife selves and let the media and the world know that what Tiger does in the woods of his house is not our business. If he rammed a golf cart into the clubhouse at the U.S. Open after being chased by Jack Nicklaus because he moved his ball an eighteenth of an inch on the eighteenth green one stroke shy of losing to Jack just as dusk was setting in so it went unnoticed, then we would be entitled to be a part of his drama. But this situation, one that no one expected from the likes of the man who can focus better than a computer chip, has left those of us who expected he had the same championship personal life as he had in his professional life reeling.

So, let’s reel on down the highway, out of his space and let him and his wife figure out their future without us.

That said, can we discuss the word assumption? There is that stupid saying, “to assume is to make an ass out of you and me.” Whatever.

I hate that I assumed he had it all together because he wins on the golf course. I hate that I can never watch him again with the same awe that his life is better than mine; that the parenting that seemed to be the strong suit of his parents and something that I yearned to have as my own, must have had some sort of flaw. I hate that the lovely hugs with wife and children when he wins might just be for show, and mostly I hate that maybe they aren’t just for show but I will never believe it again.

So, Tiger hasn’t let us down. We have let him down. We are not entitled to his private life becoming part of his public life. We must reject it. I will not read one more article about it. I will turn the channel if it’s on TV, and most of all, I will try and watch that black or red shirt on the course and the fabulous way he masters the clubs in his hands without the benefit of knowing what went on in the privacy of his home the night before.