Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Games are Closed

Nothing says Olympic Closing Ceremonies more than inflatable giant beavers, but that is what the Canadians left the world to remember. What could be a nightmare for Caddyshack's Carl Spackler, the giant inflatable beavers wished the world the best as well as large immitation Canadian Mounties, hockey players and a moose, the two weeks the world came together will be remembered for many tragic and glorious story lines.
There were concerns on the day of the Opening Ceremonies after a Luge athlete from the Republic of Georgia died on a practice run coming around the final turn on the world's fastest track. But there will be many other images that I will remember.
Heather Kearney of the United States on the Moguls. There were few who thought the U.S. could pull off a gold medal in this event. Many Canadians were expecting one of their own to bring home the first gold on home soil. Kearney had an outstanding run and her first comment after completing and knowing she was golden was, "I just wanted to be part of an Olympic montage." How refreshing to hear a world-class athlete who achieved a life-long dream to just be included in an Olympic Highlight Video.
The U.S. Hockey Team. The favorites heading into the games were the home Canadians and Russians. Many thought Team USA would compete, advance to the medal round, but fight for the bronze. The Americans gained many fans once they took on Canada in pool play. An early goal :41 in set the tone and Team USA went onto upset the Canadians and send two neighboring countries experience very opposite emotions. The Canadians got another shot at Team USA in the Gold Medal game, and it was another classic battle which the Americans sent into OT with less than a minute to play in regulation. A Sidney Crosby goal in the extra period sent the entire country of Canada into the streets to celebrate Olympic gold. A disappointment for the Americans, but it generated more interest for hockey than any NHL Stanley Cup final would in the states. All americans got behind the young US team and became hockey fans, if for only a couple of weeks.
The last memory of the last two weeks comes from my son. While the 2008 games in Beijing took place, he was a four-year old who kept a close watch on Michael Phelps, became excited about the Birds Nest and found out a little more about the city of Beijing. In 2010, he was now excited to watch Apollo Ono, Shanni Davis, Luge, Four Man Bobsled and anything else Olympic. He learned a little more about the world around him, as well as the one he lives in. He now is looking forward to the games of 2012 in London.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

National Radio Announced for two Iowa Dates

Although television has yet to announce some of Iowa Football's plans for the upcoming season, the national radio networks have decided on two different broadcasts, each from Iowa City. Compass Radio will broadcast nationally the Iowa - Wisconsin and Iowa - Ohio State games during the 2010 season. For more information on the network and other games during the season please click here.

Lost February 23

We find out Jack has a kid in the sideways world and Claire is crazy. More to the Lost episode here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Big Ten Video Meeting

Indianapolis is the center of the professional football world this week as all of the elite college football players congregate to demonstrate their talents in front of the NFL coaches and player personnel for the annual NFL Combine. Prior to the start of the combine the NFL Video Directors have their meetings to discuss their rules, technology and handling everything from college video transfer, game week video transfer as well as seeing the newest technology.
Indianapolis is also the geographic center of the Big Ten and it is where the conference video coordinators met for their annual meetings. On the college level the discussions are much the same as the professional, but the colleges tend to push the envelope with innovations and technology. Among the topics the Big Ten addressed is the shooting, editing and networking of HD video and the roadmap for it to happen. With almost half of the conference operating off a software that will not allow this to happen, the Big Ten looks to be 1 - 2 years away.
Jay Reid, Video Coordinator for the Big Ten Office is in charge of coordinating the needs of game officials. Jay spoke of upcoming changes and modifications to the current system. Big Ten teams send Jay their game once it posted to the internet, from there he pulls controversial plays for Bill Carrolla to view and match them up with the television copy. Jay also sends out copies for all of the game officials to view off their home computer.
Matt Harper and Tom Shepherd of Michigan State earned the Big Ten Video Coordinator of the Year award. They are now eligible for the naitonal honor awarded in May. The two day event was filled with meetings and vendor presentations. Below Jay updates the video coordinators on improvements the conference is making with HD Replay.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Swiss Olympic History

Simon Amman completed Swiss Olympic History today by winning his fourth Gold Medal today capturing the individual title in the K120 Downhill Ski Jump. This sweeps the individual honors as he took gold earlier in the week in the K95 Ski Jump. This was the same sweep he captured in 2002 in Salt Lake City.

Most likely Amman will celebrate with his countrymen in the Swiss House, the home away from home for the visiting citizens of Switzerland.

This is the 2010 Swiss House in Vancouver. We visited the 2002 home in Salt Lake City a day before Amman took the second gold. At every Olympiad a Swiss businessman rents out a local restaurant and takes complete control of it for the two weeks of the Olympics. All of the Swiss delicacies are served giving those from the homeland a place to feel at home.

However there were some obstacles in setting up shop. For example, at Salt Lake City we were looking for some of the Swiss beers we fondly remembered from our trips in the middle 90s. With the games in Salt Lake City, the import laws of the state of Utah for alcohol presented more challenges and difficulties. Beers such as Cardinal and Feldschloseen were replaced by the local Budweisers and Coors.

No doubt Amman will make an appearance at the Swiss House tonight, just as he did in Salt Lake City following his Gold Medal performance.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Olympic Women's Downhill

On this day at the XXI Winter Olympics in Vancouver the Women's Downhill finally took place after many delays. In Salt Lake City, this race marked the end of Picabo Street's career, but it too was delayed. It was to be run on the first Monday of the games, but due to high winds at the top of the hill the event was moved to the next day, and then it still didn't begin on time. At the bottom of the hill the sun was bright and the temperatures warm, but high winds continued to be a problem. Finally a window allowed the race to be won. French woman, Carole Montillet raced to Olympic Gold while Street finished off the medals stand. In this video I took of the event, Montillet is the first skiier and Street goes last.

While it was exciting to see this alpine event in person, as you can see from the video, this is best viewed on tv.

Lost February 16

The latest take on Lost from The Big Lead.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Amman Takes Gold...In Salt Lake City

Over the weekend Swiss Ski Jumper Simon Amman took gold in the K95 Ski Jumping event at the Vancouver Olympics. This wasn't the first time the Harry Potter look alike stood atop the medals stand. At the 2002 Salt Lake Games he swept the individual honors winning gold in both the K95 and K120. Below is video of the gold-winning jump along with his competitors. Although Ski Jumping is a sport familiar only to Americans every four years there are a few things that should jump out to the Olympic fan. Adam Malysz of Poland is among the world's best and Finland is know for some of the best ski jumpers in the world. Amman is the third individual to jump.

Future Olympian

Getting caught up in the excitement of the Winter Olympic Games, Colin takes to the snow and begins his dream of becoming an Olympic Luge participant in either 2022 or 2026. Judging by his reaction, his dream may or may not become reality but he'll have fun imitating on the sledding track.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

First Gold Medal of 2010

The first gold medal of the 2010 Winter Olympic games went to an "old friend" that we cheered on at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic games. Simon Amman, Switzerland's answer to Harry Potter took the gold today in the K90 Ski Jump event. Here Amman took gold in the K120 Ski Jump eight years ago and we had the chance to be this close to the winning Olympian.

That night at the Medals Plaza in downtown Salt Lake City, Amman received his gold medal as fans stood while the Swiss Flag was raised and his national anthem was played. Without a doubt, tonight he is enjoying his new found gold, although he still has the K120 to participate in early this week.

Dana and I had great seats to winess the ceremony. Later in the night was a concert by Canadian band, Bare Naked Ladies who brought up the Ice Skating Pair of Jamie Sale and David Pelletier. Sale and Pelletier were apart of an Figure Skating scoring scandal. Originally they were awarded a silver medal, but following an investigation, they, too recieved a gold.

Let the Games Begin

Throughout my life I have been fortunate enough to attend many sporting events. All my life sports have played a major role, whether by participating, as a spectator or one who works the event. But the Olympics is an event that has no comparison.

Here the Olympic Flame shines brightly over the 2002 games in Salt Lake City. My wife and I witnessed Austria v Germany men's Ice Hockey at the Peaks Ice Arena in Provo, the Women's Downhill at Snowbasin and the K120 Men's Ski Jump at Utah Olympic Park.

At most sporting events I attend there are two opposing sides, battling one another for victory. But at the Olympics there aren't two opposing sides, rather the entire world in support of these athletes to perform at their highest level. Many of these athletes aren't as well-known as the icons we watch on a daily basis. Rather they work train just as hard, perhaps pay their own way to competitions and put it all on the line for a few moments once every four years, or for some, once in their lifetime.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lost February 9

This week it is a Kate episode and we welcome Claire back to the show. Here are this week's comments on the show from USA Today.

Also, check out the latest Lost Blog

Monday, February 8, 2010

Being the Coaches Son

The responsibility of being the child of a coach can be difficult. When times are good, the player is just another member of the team. However when times are tough, scrutiny abounds.

Recently there has been much criticism of the playing of John Lickliter, the son of Iowa Men's Basketball coach, Todd Lickliter. An argument is that John isn't good enough to play at the Big Ten level. Another is that Todd plays his son too much making it difficult for him to compete in the rugged Big Ten.

No matter what the level of competition, when times may be rough, the role of the coaches son is a difficult one. The son is an easy target. It gives fans another person to vent their anger at for disappointing times. And the same fans can criticize the coach for favortism. It happens at all levels.

A year ago was my first year of coaching T Ball, allowing me the opportunity to coach my son Colin. When I was his age, my dad was the girls basketball coach at our high school. My two sisters were each coached by him, making me jealous not getting that same chance. But I did whatever I could to assist him at practice as well as on the bench. My sisters didn't want to disappoint their father and would practice more than some on the team. One would put their letter jacket, stocking cap and mittens on and get some extra shooting in on the gravel driveway outside our home. Of course having our dad as the coach, we also had the access to the school's gym throughout the year. We took it seriously. But when times were tough, my sisters would have to listen to fans and parents complain about their amount of playing time compared to those of the others on the team. Some parents would find any way to vent their frustration. The practice of videotaping games was something new, but the moms and dads quickly learned that they could voice their opposition onto the built in mic on the camera. Of course my dad found the volume button could be used to his advantage as well.

Now was my turn to coach my son and that relationship isn't lost with the younger ages. Before my first game I was to hand out jerseys for every member of the team. Small sizes were #s 1 - 8 and medium sizes were #9 - 14. Without thinking I handed the first jersey to the closest person, which was my son and now for the rest of the year he was #1. By the time the second shirt was handed out I had heard the first comment, "Oh, sure, the coaches son gets #1." And the comments didn't cease there. I was reminded when he would be stationed at the pitcher's position.

The criticism doesn't change at the college level. Todd and John are dealing with it. A satirical story ran on a Des Moines television station on John's talent level. Todd is also dealing with the possible favortism on Todd's part to play his son. If this season had been more successful, there would've been less talk, and satirical pieces such as this one may have brought some smiles to faces rather than frowns. But after years of watching other parent's sons play for his team and those he recrutied, he now has the opportunity to spend time with John, whose playing time should diminish in the following years as Todd builds his team with upcoming recruits. John will continue to be on the bench, travel with the team, and more importantly spend time with his dad that he has missed growing up.

John will continue to hear the criticism. Whether it is from the media, fans, or friends who look for a way vent their anger at the losing record of the team, John will work to improve and play an improved role on the team. And despite this growing experience, do you think John regrets signing up for this? Definitely not. I'm sure he would do it all over again.

(Special thanks to the Des Moines Register for the picture)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Illini Fans at Carver

Wednesday night the Hawkeye men's basketball team "hosted" border rival Illinois. And while Iowa was listed as the home team, this had the feel of a game played on a neutral court with the Illini fans having a shorter drive than those in black and gold.
Traffic to Carver Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City was more difficult than other nights of the 2009-10 season. Fans with foreign license plates not knowing where to go and park slowed the Hawkeye faithful and buses were many with names of Illinois towns painted on the side.
Once inside this basketball venue there was a sense of electricity that has been missing. You could say the "joint was jumpin'" although it was till far from the sell out crowds people of my generation were used to. However this buzz was fueled by those wearing the orange and blue of Illinois.
Those buses from Illinois hauled over 150 students from the Champaign-Urbana campus, and at tip-off were located directly behind the basket nearest the Iowa bench. And while the numbers were fewer (but not my much) of the home student section, the Illini students were definitely more vocal and original with their cheers. Carver Hawkeye Areana had a feel of the Illini's Assembly Hall.
But what was most disappointing was the number of non-student Illinois fans that found their way to some of the best seats in the Arena...those in the highly-donated and faculty / staff seats. Many pockets of fans wearing orange were found in the middle section.
While some of these fans may have been correctly in their seats, finding tickets through friends, colleagues or ticket selling web sites, I also witnessed Illinois fans moving to these premiere seats as Iowa fans failed to show.
This could be an appropriate time to fire up the argument of start times or the success of the basketball team, but there comes a time when Iowa fans need to take pride in their school, team and players by showing up. The team cannot select their schedule and start times. It is unfortunate there is only one more weekend home game as well as starting one game earlier than 7:30, but that is what this team was given them. They can not change it.
This team aside from one game has been improving the last eight games. They continue to battle and fight for forty minutes although it has been inevitable since Christmas they would not make post-season play. But Iowa fans need support this team by showing up and not giving away or selling their tickets to the opposing fan base.
The remaining games are not against a neighboring fan base so a duplicate of Wednesday night should not occur, but those fans who gave away their tickets to Illinois fans need to show up and give back to a team that hasn't quit.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pro Bowl review

What two of the major sports leagues are failing to understand is their game featuring the stars of their leagues is nothing more than an exhibition game. The latest attempt by the NFL at re-inventing their all-star spectacle falls short of what the game is meant to do--and that is show off all of the league's stars.
Major League Baseball began this almost ten years ago after their Mid-Summer Classic ended in a tie with no players available after ten innings. Commissioner Bud Selig decided it was time for the league to take the game seriously and give home field advantage in the world series to the winner of the all-star game.
Now that game has changed. Strategy has changed and all-star game memories have began to dwindle. There were many more lasting images from games that had less meaning than those of today.
The earliest memory that comes to mind is Pete Rose "hustling" around the bases and colliding head first with Ray Fosse at home plate, giving the National League the win. Less serious moments ensued in the 90s with Randy Johnson throwing a pitch high and behind Phillie John Kruk. This was a match-up that many were anticipating and each had a little fun with the encounter. In a game that meant home-field advantage in the World Series, this "funny" moment is less likely to happen.
Aside from staged events such as the return of past all-stars to the field for a presentation, there are fewer in-game all-star game memories. And in what should be a game to exhibit the talents of the game's best has now become one that may have a deciding factor who are the World Champions.
The NFL hasn't placed the same kind of importance on the Pro Bowl, but it is trying to add more relevance to the game. However by moving it to the week prior to the Super Bowl doesn't permit the best in the game to participate. As I watch the Pro Bowl I should expect to see Peyton Manning throw to Dallas Clark or Drew Brees to hand the ball off to Adrian Peterson. Since the game was played prior to the Super Bowl, three of these four athletes watched the from sidelines.
The 2010 game brought the highest tv ratings in ten years. Much of that had to do wtih a later kick-off on Sunday, not Saturday as in previous years. People are still interested in watching, but the same people are hungry to see the game's best as well.
I like the NFL trying something new. Next year the game will be moved back to Hawaii with a date and time to be announced. However it is hard to expect the game to be before the Super Bowl and transporting players, administration and media from the 49th state to the mainland may be next to impossible. But the NFL should score points for experimenting. And if it was up to Bud Selig, the conference who wins the Pro Bowl would also get the ball first in a Super Bowl overtime.

Lost is Back

The final season of Lost began tonight and it continues to impress. Check out what some of the people are saying. We now have insight into the smoke monster, perhaps where the children that Ana Lucia was watching from the back of the plane have gone, and is Jacob now Sayid? This twitter site may have answers for you, and check out the Big Lead in the morning for their take.

Packer Fan Returns to Drinking for 2010

Courtesy of Engy's ready, Andrew "Woody" Hayes comes this video...

Packers Fan Announces He Will Return To Drinking For Another Season