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Flag waving time in America.
With our country’s problems — hateful political discourse, the national debt, racism, on to a national obesity problem (Walmartians) — those who say America is in decline are wishful thinkers (Hugo Chavez), whistling past the graveyard (Iranian imam), or just don’t get it (Cuba’s Castro brothers).
Nice, 104 medals at the 30th Olympiad — 46 gold, 29 silver, 29 bronze. Well ahead of China, Russia and the rest.
But there is more than metal here.
Team USA took 530 athletes to London, 269 women and 261 men. Females outnumbered males at an Olympiad for the first time. Of 104, the women won 58 medals — 29 gold, 14 silver, 15 bronze. The men’s medal count: 17, 15 and 13.
Superseding those totals and records set, is this: Opportunity. Title IX, a law passed in 1972, improved opportunities for women in sports.
With all our shortcomings, squabbles and shameless media rant to inflame, the opportunity to succeed remains a linchpin to America’s place on the planet. China and Russia flail away, while American athletes push to achieve at ever higher levels because they (we) can. Many of our champions in athletics will rise to be leaders in years to come.
It’s an opportunity to become best of the best.
Wave the flag. America, I love this place.
SUMMER HOOPS TOP STORY?
Top story from summer basketball circuit? Take your choice ...
1. American men and women won gold medals at the Olympics in London.
2. Jabari Parker. A report this week said the nation’s number one college prospect has narrowed his college list to three — Duke, Kansas and Michigan State.
3. Nerlens Noel is academically eligible to play at Kentucky.
4. Or, is it Kentucky’s rise in the sports licensing industry?
According to the website Bleacher Report, University of Kentucky deposited $6.73 million in merchandise royalties during fiscal year ending June 30. Nearly a 40 percent increase from 2011.
A Kentucky Wildcats 2012 NCAA Basketball National Champions t-shirt sells for $24.95. A UK basketball jersey — $74.95.
In a $4.6 billion industry, Kentucky climbed from seventh to third place in revenue rankings behind only Texas and Alabama (football schools?).
BEST OF BEST
USA’s men’s basketball team cruised to another gold medal and got the ultimate celebrity treatment doing it. Mike Krzyzewski would have it no other way, yet, the head coach has arrived at an extraordinary place in sports, seems to me.
Krzyzewski is more than college basketball’s winningest coach (and counting), more than leader to four NCAA titles at Duke. His two USA gold medal unbeaten teams at the Olympics are stellar achieve-ments also.
Yet, beyond those statistical accolades, Krzyzewski is becoming an American icon for success certainly, but more for humility, integrity and emphasis on what a college coach should be, an educator invested in educating those who need one.
Krzyzewski is indeed a man for all seasons in all sports.
Best of the best.
The Commonwealth made a solid contribution to Team USA’s success in London.
Reese Hoffa, born in Louisville, earned a bronze in the shot; Tyson Gay of Lexington, won a silver in the 4x100 meter relay; Claire Donahue, a Western Kentucky University graduate won a gold medal in the butterfly leg of the 400-meter medley relay.
Angel McCoughtry, University of Louisville graduate earned a gold in women’s basketball. And, capping off a year for the ages, 19-year-old Anthony Davis has a gold medal, too.
GENUINE FAB FIVE
Fab Five. Bravo to the British for applying a nickname worthy of its characters. American gymnastics gold medal winning quintet — Gabby Douglas, Kyla Ross, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber — are destined to make lots of money.
I hope America’s new Fab Five inspires ESPN editors to drop its tiresome and fraudulent feature still being aired called Fab Five, referring to the1991 University of Michigan basketball team that won nothing except disdain and responsibility for NCAA-ordered taking down UM’s Final Four banner. And, it earned a classic laugh line from one gushing sports writer who called the Wolverines “one of the most intellectually intriguing teams in the history of the game.”
RAINEY A RAVEN
Former Western star running back Bobby Rainey is still in the hunt for a job with the Baltimore Ravens. In an exhibition game last week, the Baltimore Sun reported free agent Rainey rushed 12 times for 36 yards, caught three passes for 28 and a touchdown. He also returned six punts for 50 yards and a kickoff for 26.
“He’s a football player,” coach John Harbaugh said. “(Rainey) did the same things in the game today he’s done in practice. And that’s what you want to see. You want to see guys carry it over.”
WORTH REPEATING DEPT.
Gauging his team’s preseason work so far, Western Kentucky football coach Willie Taggart remarked last week a “noticeable absence of ‘Freddie Soft.’”
Freddie Soft, Taggart explained, is “a small guy who sits on players’ shoulders and tells them not to work hard.” The coach is happy to report that Freddie Soft has not made an appearance at practice yet this year.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” he said.
But Freddie Soft has not been a problem.
And so it goes.