Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Letters to Lolo

Lolo Jones didn't win gold, but she did show unimaginable grace and class despite crushing disappointment. Many of you have asked how you can write to Lolo.

Just leave a note in the feedback here, and I'll personally forward all your thoughts and comments to Lolo at the end of the week.

It doesn't take gold to make us proud.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

You've got to be kidding me

Did you see the vault? The Chinese gymnast falls to her knees and takes bronze?! The North Korean gymnast steps out of bounds with both feet on her landing and takes gold?! Alicia Sacramone has no major errors and finishes fourth? Crazy Bela Karolyi is right, it's a "rip off" and something smells.

This is why I typically don't watch sports that involve judges.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

TMZ makes fun of NBC, Iowa,

We can laugh at ourselves, right.?

New Murphy's Law, more reverent, follows below...

Friday, August 15, 2008

How can you not be proud of Shawn Johnson?

Shawn Johnson is a fierce competitor. She didn't bust her butt for years in hopes of bringing back silver to Iowa. She wanted gold, and as the world champion, carried the burden of "favorite".

Shawn, as we all know, finished second in the all-around to her friend and rival, Nastia Liuken. When it was over, we saw Shawn fight back tears. I'm sure some of it was disappointment, but I think a lot of emotion was relief. Can you imagine the pressure? I really can't, and I played a lot of sports. She's in a whole other world, one most of us can't relate to.

Like so many people in Iowa, I was nervous watching Shawn compete in a sport so unforgiving of the slightest mistake; a sport, in the end, left in the hands of judges.

I think the judges scored Nastia and Shawn too low, especially Shawn. They seemed to favor the ballerina type gymnast over Shawn's athletic tumbling, which is too bad. Who do you think projects a healthier body image for impressionable young girls: Shawn, or the Chinese gymnasts who look like they haven't eaten in months?

In the end, the judges, thankfully, got it right anyway. Shawn usually beats Nastia, but at the Olympics, Nastia was a little better. As an Iowan, heck as an American, I'm just proud of the way Shawn left it all out there, and delivered the floor routine of her life when she needed it most. One mistake and China gets the Silver. That was clutch.

I also loved the way Shawn handled her disappointment with class, grace, and sportsmanship. A lot of much older athletes could learn a thing or two by watching Shawn, and many other Olympians. We've seen a lot of athletes at their best.

I hope Shawn wins gold in one of the individual events, but whatever happens, she's represented us in world class fashion. I know I sound corny, but I couldn't be more sincere. (To write a note for Shawn, visit our hot topic blog. We'll forward your comments to Shawn in a few days.)

I wondered if the way the Olympics made me feel as a kid would happen again. These games have done it. Don't you feel a little more patriotic? A little better about the world? A lot better about elite athletes?

You know when Kobe Bryant is in awe of Michael Phelps, you're watching something special. Phelps is unreal. I still can't believe he found a way to win the 100 fly! I've never seen a more unlikely outcome with one meter to go. Phelps is Houdini in a Speedo.

Also loved the Costas interview with Phelps and Mark Spitz. Can Costas just start doing all the interviews for NBC? Seems like a good idea.

Next up: Lolo!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sacramone falls, shows how to get back up.

How rough was it watching Alicia Sacramone fall twice. The aftermath was worse. It's hard to see a young lady being that hard on herself. She feels terrible. Anyone who's ever played sports knows letting your teammates down feels much worse than letting yourself down.

Head up, Alicia. You handled it all with class. First of all, you finished your routines. You know how hard that must be after feeling like you just cost your team the gold?

Alicia also answered every tough media question, even when Andrea Joyce asked about 10 more than necessary. One answer told the entire story.


Shawn Johnson was nails. One mistake, but it came after Team USA knew the gold was about as likely as a 100 pound Chinese gymnast. Johnson has, so far, lived up to the hype, which is not easy; there's been a lot of hype. I know because we contributed to it.

I'm in awe of what these girls can do. As Erin Kiernan pointed out, even if we can't swing a club like Tiger Woods, we can still play golf. Most of us can't do any of what Shawn's doing. Her beam routine blows my mind, and makes me a nervous wreck. I don't know how her mom and dad watch.

I also appreciated the leadership and maturity Shawn showed after the team finals. Everyone knew one American gymnast had a really bad night, but Shawn refused to even hint at blaming anyone, no matter how many different ways the question was asked. Besides, it's an Olympic silver medal, not a participation ribbon at the Iowa State Fair.


The Chinese "women" deserved the gold. They were better. But does anyone believe three of those girls are 16? Being tiny and light in gymnastics is a huge edge. It's easier to fly, spin, and twist when you weigh 67 pounds. It's well documented the girls have previously been listed as much younger than the required age of 16, but you don't need a birth certificate, just look at them! Shawn is 16, and compared to those tiny Chinese gymnasts, Shawn looks like she's ready to wear a pantsuit to Perkins for an early bird special and a game of Bridge. (For more on this, Andy and I sound off at )


Michael Phelps is a fish. 11 career golds and counting. He's already the greatest swimmer in Olympic history, and if he finishes with 8 golds and 8 world records in these Games, I think you have to call him the greatest Olympian of all time. Maybe he's already earned that title.


I thought I was into these Olympics, but next to Jon Miller, I don't have a TV. Jon sent me a breakdown of the women's gymnastics that looks like it was written by Bela Karolyi.


We've all had enough severe weather for one year, but now it's serious: it's occasionally knocking off my HD! I'm so addicted to high definition, I'll watch grown men tread water for two hours (or as they call it in the Olympics, water polo).

Gotta go, synchronized scorpion eating coming up next.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

These Olympics are so good, my butt's asleep.

It's rare something lives up to runaway hype, but so far, these Olympics have delivered. It's not going unnoticed. NBC says these Olympics are on pace to be the most watched ever. I'm sure it helps that they're on more than Seinfeld reruns.
The opening ceremonies were, hands down, the best ever. I can't imagine the amount of practice, money, and imagination it took to pull that off. That drumming thing blew my mind. I'm also glad HD was invented prior to 08-08-08. Phenomenal.
Our entire family was standing up, screaming at the television during Sunday night's 4 X 100 men's swimming relay. That was the greatest finish I've ever seen in any race. The French talked smack, and the Americans made them eat it. Michael Phelps stays on track for 8 gold medals.
Phelps is a fish. The guy defies belief. I also love the way he immediately looks for his mother after winning. When you've had a good one, you never outgrow that feeling.
Iowa State professor Rick Sharp helped designed the Speedo swimsuit that keeps slicing through the water in world record time. He should design some football uniforms for I-State. Maybe basketball too. Can't hurt.
President Bush has the lowest approval rating of any President in decades, perhaps deserved, but I predict he gets a positive bump after the Games. He's at his best in weeks like these, and I agree with his decision to not boycott the Olympics. Boycotting is not the way to human rights progress in China, and it would mostly hurt the athletes (talk to an Olympian from 1980). The interview between President Bush and Bob Costas was interesting. Costas is the consummate pro on nearly any subject.
Props to NBC for so much live coverage. It was nice to watch the USA vs. China basketball game live Sunday instead of waiting for prime time. If the Redeem Team doesn't win gold, I'll watch a WNBA game from start to finish by the end of the month.
As Chris Hassel said Sunday night, "Shawn Johnson sizzles, Team USA fizzles". Shawn was as good as advertised, showing she's the one to beat in Beijing. Her older, more experienced teammates looked nervous and rattled, but Shawn, as ever, showed poise and delivered. Her coach, Liang Chow, told the Register's Nancy Stockdale that Shawn held back too. She'll up her game when she needs to.
If you get popular enough, you'll attract haters. It's true of anyone, even the innocent. Believe it or not, 6% of the people voting at say Shawn Johnson won't win a medal in the all-around. For that to happen, she'll have to fall down twice or pull out with an injury. There's definitely some jealousy out there, just talk to someone who goes to Valley. Most of the students are proud and supportive, but a few dislike Shawn's fame (and fast-growing fortune). She handles it all so well. Can't be easy. I know I was a self-centered knucklehead at 16. And 26.
Gymnastics needs to bring back the "10". It made scoring much more exciting and understandable.
Biggest upset in sports viewing history: Shawn Terrell now watching women's gymnastics with the same passion he brings to the Bears and Cubs.
Just got a letter from Lolo's agent, and fellow Roosevelt legend, Kim Carson. Kim says Lolo is having a blast in China and ready to bring home the gold.
An athlete gets kicked out of the Olympics, and of course it's a cyclist. Can this sport clean itself up enough to make people believe again?
I spent 10 hours at the Iowa State Fair this weekend and really enjoyed it. First at the Olympic Pavilion, where people can watch the Olympics on our big screen, and later at the "Cast Your Kernel" site where folks 18 and over vote for President. Both places were packed and Andy and I met a lot of nice people. Andy is a star. Even people who give him a hard time want an autograph or a picture. He stayed busy signing and posing most of the time. His picture cards look like they were taken during his first day on the job at channel 13 back in 2000. I'm not even sure it's him. That's one way to stay young.

Andy and I will also be doing some Olympic Sound-Offs this week at and

Thanks for stopping by. I've got to get back to the Olympics. Women's volleyball is on. I can't believe I'm watching either, but it's the United States, I'm hooked, and it's in HD.

Let others know what you love, or don't like, about the Olympics so far.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

How many games will Iowa win? Are the I-State uneys ugly?

Three mismanagement examples of a public relations powder keg:

1) ISU's firing of Larry Eustachy.
2) University of Iowa's in-house sexual assault investigation
3) Packers not wanting Brett Favre

In all three cases, you can make the argument the people in charge were doing what they had to do (although in at least one of the examples, that's a weak position). The problem isn't always the decision, it's made worse by the chain of one bad decision after another once the crisis begins.
The Packers tried to pay Brett Favre $25 million to not play. Think about that. The Packers offered the most celebrated player in their history a king's ransom to just stay away. And they did it a year after he passed for more than 4,000 yards and led them to the NFC championship game.

I know Favre's yearly indecision dance is beyond tired, but how did it come to this? I mean they really can't stand Favre. The Packers want to start an unproven quarterback who looked bad Sunday night. They won't will they? Not unless Favre gets what I suspect he's wanted all along: his release so he can play for the Vikings. Favre played the Pack perfectly, and if he stays in Green Bay, this ends the only way it can: with Brett Favre as the Packers starting quarterback on opening day. Who knows though. They really don't want him.
The Hawkeyes football schedule is so soft, I don't see a way Iowa can win fewer than six games. I think seven wins is about right, and eight is not out of the question. If it's five or fewer, sound the alarms.
I expect Shonn Greene to start at running back, maybe not against Maine or whoever Florida International is, but by the Iowa State game, it'll be Greene.
Kirk Ferentz still seems irritated by the amount of coverage Iowa football has received for the alleged sexual assault by two Hawkeye football players. He shouldn't be. Several questionable decisions were made by the U of I in general, and the athletic department in particular. Plus, when you get right down to it, Ferentz is so highly regarded by the media as a man of principle and character that Iowa has gotten off relatively easy in terms of bad press when you consider the embarrassment and scope of 18 arrested players in 16 months, many for felonies. Let's hope we see an arrest drought. I think we will.
Iowa State's new USC uniforms just made a list as the tenth ugliest in college football (Oregon the no doubt #1). I disagree, but my judgment could be clouded by how awful ISU's uniforms have been in the past. The red-on-red blood clot look was awful.
I think some of the Cyclone hype, at least in my inbox, is carried away. If I-State goes to a bowl game, even with the two gimmes to start the season, Gene Chizik is as good as many people in the Cyclone athletic department think he is. Five wins is the prediction here, and four wouldn't shock me. Seven would.
I still think Austen Arnaud ends up the Cyclone quarterback when it counts. (See Shonn Green above).
The NL Central race is over. No team will catch the Cubs again this season.
Sports Illustrated believes we're about to watch the most anticipated Olympics in history. It's certainly true in central Iowa. I can't wait, though I could do without the late nights.
NBC is adding an additional half hour to the opening ceremonies. It now starts at 6:30 p.m. Friday. That means our Olympics special moves to 6 p.m. and our newscast to 5:30 p.m.
If you're thinking about HD, try to have it by Friday night.
Shawn Johnson just won a Teen Choice award as favorite female athlete. In two weeks, she'll be one of the most recognized faces in America. That is unbelievable. So much pressure, but I think she thrives on it.
Loved the Register's poster of Lolo Jones. She took that right after our interview. Lolo was working on about 1 hour of sleep. She said she was so excited, and so over-caffeinated that she couldn't sit still. The poster captures that. Lolo is amazing.
I saw the Dark Knight again. Didn't like it quite as much the second time, though I still think it's a great movie, and destined for an Academy Award best picture nomination. Three thoughts after a second viewing:

1) The movie is a little too long
2) Heath Ledger is as great as the hype. He's spellbinding.
3) The Dark Knight is really dark, and violent, and in no way appropriate for small kids

I keep watching America's Got Talent. Say a prayer for me. I find it entertaining, even as I'm being manipulated by editing and Josh Groban.
Entertainment Weekly just did an issue on The Hills. It's the first time I've had no idea who that was on the cover, or any interest in reading even one paragraph. The Hills? What is The Hills?
Andy and I will be at the State Fair Sunday afternoon. Stop by and say hello if you get the chance. I can't wait. Sitting next to Andy at the State Fair is like sitting next to Keith Jackson at the Rose Bowl.
To end on a personal note---it's a blog after all---I'd like to send a big "THANK YOU" to all the people who helped make my parents' 50th anniversary so special. Among them:

-The fine folks at Rathbun Lake, especially Jim and Cindy, the owners of Buck Creek Cabins.
-Tony the Bucs fan and boat driver.
-Heather the Sangria specialist.
-All the friendly people at the Centerville Wal*Mart.
-Jenny for preparing meals for 30 every few hours.
-The I-Cubs for the video announcement.
-Jeff for re-writing the words to Sweet Caroline into a party-pleasing classic
-All our friends and family for making time and finding a way. I know it's never easy. You're the best. No really, you are.
-Mom & Dad. If you didn't get married, I'm not here. Thus, no blog entry today.

Happy Anniversary!