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Archive for August, 2009

   pf010936logjamI consider the “Saturday Night Live” bit called “Annuale” the best fake commercial the show has ever done – of course, comic goddesses Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Kristen Wiig had to be involved. (I never thought anyone could be as funny in as many different characters as Gilda Radner was, but Kristen Wiig is even better.)

 I’m referencing the clip both because it’s insanely hilarious and because I feel like stealing a line from it to describe the whirlwind that the Eastern Conference playoff race is going to be in these last two weeks of the regular season.

  Go to store, buy a hat, and get ready to hold the (blank) on to it.

  Yes, this will be nuts. For ESPN.com, I wrote about what it’s probably going to come down to in the West. Here, I’m going to attempt to describe the East logjam, starting by saying this is parity to an absurd degree.   (more…)

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  Sure, some luster was taken off the Mercury-Sparks game because of the absence of Candace Parker. All day long Thursday, we were looking forward to this game, because how could it go wrong?

   Maybe the Mercury play some games that are not entertaining, but I never seem to see them. When those who are big college women’s hoops fans tell me they just “can’t get into” the WNBA, I usually say, “Really? Have you watched Phoenix?”

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   Track champion Caster Semenya went home to South Africa on Tuesday, and her country cheered wildly. Officials and fans celebrated her victory last week in the 800 meters at the World Championships of Track and Field.
   They denounced track’s governing body, the IAAF, for requesting gender testing be done for Semenya because of physical characteristics, a deep voice and how dominantly she won the race despite being, at age 18, a neophyte at international competition.
  They referred to Semenya as “our little girl,” and accused the IAAF of racism in pursuing the questions about her gender. Across the world, various groups – from feminists to gay-rights advocates to women’s sports advocates to racial-issues advocates to people who may be all of the above _ have castigated the IAAF and anyone who suggests there could indeed be legitimate reasons for these tests.
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 The current controversy over the gender question about runner Caster Semenya  brings up so many different topics of discussion that I couldn’t begin to adequately cover then all. But let’s at least try to sort through some of them. I’ll call this blog entry “part 1” in that regard, with the thought that there is much more to say.

  I also want to put up this disclaimer – for the purpose of discussing these things here, I’m using some really general and unspecific ways to describe potential medical conditions. A medical professional would most definitely use different terms and be much more specific. This blog entry is more to start a dialogue and offer some general thoughts; it is not meant to be taken as a professionally researched medical article.

  That said, here’s the situation: Semenya, an 18-year-old from South Africa, won the women’s 800 meters at track’s World Championships this week in Berlin. Her time of 1 minute, 55.45 seconds crushed the rest of the field. Semenya burst on the elite track and field scene only this year, and when she did, there were immediately questions because in many ways she does not appear traditionally “female” in appearance.
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 images-1If, that is, you have The Golf Channel. And have an interest in high-stakes, give-it-all-for-the-team competition. I’m talking about the Solheim Cup, the biennial USA vs. Europe women’s golf competition, which starts Friday.

  I’ve covered the event four times when it was in the United States: in 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2005. It began in 1990, as the women’s version of the Ryder Cup, sponsored by the Solheim family of the Ping golfing equipment empire. It’s got all the drama but none of the hype of the Ryder Cup, and it was always one of the most fun things I ever got the chance to write about. 

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   images In a total turnaround of Thursday’s matchup between these teams, San Antonio dominated Phoenix 106-89 on Saturday. The Silver Stars’ Sophia Young had another big night, with 25 points and seven rebounds. And Becky Hammon was back to “normal” – after a subpar performance in the 95-83 loss at Phoenix – as she had 21 points and six assists Saturday.

  But … I’m not actually going to write about the Silver Stars or Mercury in this post, or even directly about the WNBA. Rather, I’ve been meaning to get to something else for a while, and this seems like a good time … because both Young and Hammon have a connection to my “subject.”

  And that is Megan Mahoney, a former Kansas State and Connecticut Sun player. I chatted with her a little earlier this summer, catching up on what her life is like since basketball – but not the WNBA – is still a big part of it. 

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  imagesMinus empirical evidence, such statements are whimsical, of course. But doesn’t it seem like some players just have a knack for the dramatic shot?
  So it has appeared with San Antonio’s Sophia Young – although by “knack,” perhaps all I really mean is that it’s happened more than once.
  A couple of weeks ago, on July 28, Young nailed the game-winner as time expired, and the Silver Stars defeated Seattle 74-71. Adding to the improbability factor was that it was a 3-pointer … although that’s actually become notably less improbable during the course of this season.
   Young didn’t make a single 3-pointer her first three WNBA seasons, but is 14 of 47 from behind the arc thus far in 2009.
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