Coach's Corner

Coach pretty much stays out of political discussions these days -- but did you catch our president at the Olympics the other night? What a doofus!

Though we live in a free society, I generally avoid talking politics with anyone who might disagree with me. But back in the mother's-breast world of college we were encouraged to exchange ideas. There were groups devoted to all the isms: Communism, Castroism, Stalinism, Maoism. People were for God, or against God. Some worshiped the Beatles and thought John was God. Some worshipped a can of Bull Malt Liquor and the Kansas City Chiefs. Some identified with traditional political parties; Young Republicans for Nixon and whatnot were too dweebish to notice.

This willingness to debate with others (and not mock them until I got home) was all just play. I was a loud-mouthed college kid trying to grow a beard. Who cared what I thought? I had no boss to fire me if I called him a capitalist pig. Capital gains and death taxes were as removed from my everyday world as the thoughts of Plato. I was a simple soul. I wanted to have sex and find someone to buy me beer. For Commie, Nihilist, Capitalist, and Trotskyite, life was grand.

Now decades later, things are simpler: We're Republicans or Democrats. Generally speaking, I can't abide a Republican, even smart ones. Republican logic is wrong. But they won't listen to me. I've tried. And there are enough things I can't control (like West Lake traffic signals) to aggravate me; I don't need to debate at what moment a fetus is a person. No thanks; I'll discuss politics with my choir.

So you don't see George Bush mentioned often here. But when I turn on the Winter Olympics and there's Bob Costas interviewing the president, then he's entered my ballpark. I'd like to think even a most ardent Republican, if they saw that interview, must have been unnerved. But I'm probably wrong. Costas lobbed the President a few softball questions, easier than he'd toss to a tackle from Ohio State. The results were scary.

I'm not a knee-jerk Bush hater. He's done a decent job leading the country in difficult times, though he should be jolted with mid-level electricity every time the thought "evil doer" starts to form in his mind. He was doing okay when he was reacting. But now, as enemies turn from black to gray, it's time to get out the mo-jo beads and rabbits' feet. Anyway, Bush, working spontaneously (in a friendly arena his people obviously thought was harmless) was rendered mute, almost speechless by the gentlest questions. Costas -- who can get a cat to talk -- struggled valiantly to find any comfortable ground for the president; when he finally asked him what he told the American athletes, Bush grinned and replied, "Let's roll." I came close to vomiting. Bad stuff. On this high note Costas ended the interview. Scary.

The Winter Olympics itself is a made-for-women-event: ice-skating surrounded by a massive marketing barrage and some sad stories. The tone for the next two weeks was set with a sappy, patriotic soap opera of an opening night. I was sick of having the flag shoved down my throat by mid-September, but I'm not the Winter Olympics demographic. The Olympics (not an American creation) has been draped and smothered beneath the American flag. I can't imagine what athletes from France or wherever really think, standing in the frigid Utah night listening to a New York City cop sing "God Bless America" (I used to like that song) twice to top off an evening of Let's Everyone Love America. Well, at least he had a nice voice.

I'm sure I could debate for hours with some ladies the question: Are the Winter Olympics really sports? But like a conversation about school prayer, I'll pass. As a red-blooded American sports fan, I can see some redeeming qualities in mostly naked Soviet lasses spinning about on ice skates, but let's not get so carried away with triple lutzes and the 4x7.5 kilometer biathlon relay that we forget about the National Basketball Association at the midway point.

I promised in October that I wouldn't mention the NBA again until February. I've been true to my word. My biggest preseason gaffe was underestimating Michael Jordan. His decision to join the awful Wizards, I wrote, would turn into a fiasco, ending with a sad injury. Had you told me, after a 2-9 start, that on February 10 the Wizards would be five games above .500 and in third place in the East, I'd have begged you for some of those pharmaceuticals. Begged. The Wizards in the NBA Finals? Remember the Patriots!

A few weeks ago I was reconsidering my early negative assessment of the Spurs, a boutique pick to win the title. Their record looked great and I didn't anticipate the good play of Steve Smith and the discovery of Tony Parker. Since then, however, the Spurs have staggered badly, going 11-13 after the blazing 20-4 opening quarter of the season. Their record against quality Western opponents hasn't been impressive. I'll stick with my preseason prediction: The Spurs are going backward.

Well, I must go. I hear the sounds of the Women's Half-Pipe snowboarding competition wafting from the tiny kitchen Sony. A petite American preteen -- are there any athletes other than Americans competing this year? -- just did something the giddy lady announcer described as "precious."

I don't want to miss the replay.

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