Today is February 1, 2013. It’s been six months since the Olympic Games in London. It seems like so much has happened, and yet, not all that much has happened at all in swimming. Aside from some World Cup fireworks and another Lochte-being-Lochte performance at the World Championships in Istanbul – yes, I watched that meet – no one has put up any stellar times since the summer, especially in long course. That will change soon enough, as the college swimming season ramps up and teams start hosting trials for this summer’s World Championships in Barcelona. Meanwhile, let’s take a look at what has happened.
First of all, I am the voice of Duke swimming. Yes, I’d argue that working the public address announcing at two of the three home meets this season qualifies me for that title, and I’ve also been posting some on the team’s Twitter page. Elsewhere, Nathan Adrian swam some fast sprint free times at the Austin Grand Prix, his 100 free just a tick faster than James Magnussen’s from the other side of the world. Both Katie Hoff and Dagny Knutson announced long-term breaks from swimming which could lead to retirement. Michael Phelps played at a big golf tournament this week. Ok, so am I caught up?
A Skip Too Far
Think back for a minute to the Olympics in London. Ryan Lochte entered the men’s 200 back final as a heavy favorite, although he ended up settling for bronze behind Tyler Clary and Ryosuke Irie. Imagine, now, if the night before the final, a major Japanese swimming writer wrote a piece arguing that backstrokers should only be allowed to kick ten meters underwater, which was the original rule in the early 1990s. According to this writer’s logic, dolphin kicking isn’t really part of backstroke, and the race should measure who swims backstroke the fastest on the surface. Without a doubt, Irie would be the fastest surface swimmer, and his underwaters are a weakness.
Yesterday, one columnist basically wrote that article. ESPN’s Skip Bayless, well-known from the show First Take – which, yes, is one of my favorite shows – wrote how field goal kicking should be abolished from the NFL. Bayless argues that it doesn’t make sense for football games to come down to kicking, an act so different from the sport’s other aspects. Certainly, Skip makes a great point. Check out his whole column if you’re interested in what he has to say.
Why, though, does he come out with this three days before the Super Bowl? Wouldn’t such a discussion make sense in the offseason when the league discusses rule changes? Certainly, nothing can be changed NOW. Skip, however, has ulterior motives besides merely changing a rule he does not like. As he will remind anyone continuously, Skip picked the San Francisco 49ers to go to the Super Bowl before the season, and he likes to root for the teams he picks. For example, his lifelong favorite team has been the Dallas Cowboys, which makes listening to his rants all the more frustrating for a Cowboys hater like me.
Conveniently, 49ers kicker David Akers has been in an awful slump as of late, missing field goals at a rate he never has, including a shanked 38-yard attempt in his last game. Meanwhile, Justin Tucker, the Baltimore Ravens kicker (and brother of University of Texas swimmer Samantha Tucker), hasn’t missed this postseason, including kicking a 47-yard game winner in double overtime in Denver. Baltimore clearly has the advantage in the kicking game, and Skip can’t bear to think about how Akers could cost the 49ers the game. Moreover, Skip might even want to psych out Tucker with this type of article, putting the pressure on the undrafted rookie kicker.
I argue that Skip has gone too far in advocating a radical rule change that would clearly help the team he roots for just days before the biggest football game all year. I brought up a hypothetical example of Japanese media begging to limit Ryan Lochte’s biggest weapon in an Olympic final. As far as I know, no one in Japan wrote such an article to advocate why Irie is actually better although Lochte should win within the current rules. In the days before such a big sporting event, a respected journalist should analyze what to expect and the keys to the game, not use his limited internet space to make it very clear what team he wants to win and what team he thinks should win.
|Pretty good no-zoom view from the student section of Cameron Indoor Stadium.|