The Ultimate Fighter: Season 13, Episode 1: Unlucky 13th

“They said he didn’t belong in the UFC” are the first words we hear. They’re referring to Lesnar? Who said that?

Dana is wearing a Saturday Night Live shirt. Is he bidding to host?

Quick glimpses of a couple of fighters. Nordin Asrih is the first German, but unlike the English fighters, he doesn’t get subtitle treatment.

Dana says Junior dos Santos stepped aside from his title shot to come in and teach on TUF.

Brock Lesnar doesn’t want guys who’ve been spending the last month sitting aroud eating pizza and drinking beer. That rules me out.

Lesnar goes scientific in his evaluation. His strength and conditioning coach puts heart-rate monitors on the fighters and puts them on the bike. A couple of guys get up to 160. One is at 110. Either that guy was slacking, or he’s Lance Armstrong.

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Gender equity debate won’t end, but can it change?

Gender equity has become one of those topics about which it’s nearly impossible to have a rational discussion.

If you see the last discussion I had on this topic, you can get a sense of my frustration. Legitimate points are there to be made — sports programs are getting cut, and while Title IX may sometimes be a convenient scapegoat, it’s hard to ignore that complying with Title IX can be messy or even counterproductive.

The examples I always use are Georgia Tech and North Carolina. The latter could easily be a victim of its success if it were ever seriously pressed to meet “Prong 1” of the Title IX test, proportionality (tying athletic opportunities to the gender ratio of the student body). In reading The Man Watching, the biography of Carolina women’s soccer coach Anson Dorrance, you can trace Chapel Hill’s history from an overwhelmingly male student body to a 60-40 female ratio as, only partly coincidentally, it gets serious about women’s sports. Georgia Tech is still puttering along with a 64% male student body. Guess who has no trouble meeting the proportionality prong. Why use this law, which was supposed to be about educational opportunities and not just sports, to make things difficult on the university that has become a haven, if not heaven, for female students and student-athletes while not using it to encourage more women to go to schools like Georgia Tech?

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2012 cycling: The wheels on the bike go round and round

Cycling should be a relatively straightforward sport, like track. Three things ensure that it’s not:

1. Drafting. Cyclists conserve so much energy riding behind someone else that they’ll do just about anything to avoid being in the lead until the end.

2. Doping. The modern-day scandals are merely a vestige of the old days of cyclists sacrificing themselves by putting anything and everything in their blood streams. It’s ironic and sad that half-witted cultural commentators pronounce mixed martial arts as some civilization-ending return to the days of the mortal gladiatorial combat when the reality is that sports of a few generations ago were far more brutal.

3. Oddities. Also brutal and yet colorfully amusing were the old six-day races, full of all-night pedaling and the occasional serenade. This tradition lives on in track cycling’s complex Madison race.

British athletes fare well in events that involve sitting (cycling, rowing, sailing), so they’ll be looking for a few medals on home roads and tracks.

Predictions are fraught with difficulty. Road cycling is one of those sports in which the Olympics aren’t necessarily the grand prize. The track cycling program has been reshuffled like a poker deck. Mountain bike and BMX racing circuits have their own idiosyncrasies as well.

So here we go …

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The Freedom of the Majestic WPS FCs

Here’s a quick attempt to summarize what is known about women’s soccer teams in the Washington area as of 5:30 p.m. ET, March 24, 2011: – The Northern Virginia Majestics, affiliated with the PDL’s Northern Virginia Royals and Super-Y teams, will remain in the W-League, playing to the southwest of DC between Manassas and Dumfries. (See Tweet from @NovaRoyals) – A new team, tentatively called Washington FC, will also play in the W-League. This team takes over the territory ceded by the former Washington Freedom and will play in the Freedom’s former home, the Maryland Soccerplex, northwest of DC in … Continue reading The Freedom of the Majestic WPS FCs

‘The Ultimate Fighter’ tryouts and the soul of MMA fighters

Can you look into a mass of humanity and find something wonderfully human? Yesterday in Newark, I shared a long table with Dana White, Joe Silva, ESPN’s Franklin McNeil and other people who had more business being there than I did for tryouts of The Ultimate Fighter. The hotel as a whole was a stunning sight — hundreds of fighters, some with training partners, coaches or even the occasional significant other, all waiting their turn to grapple for a couple of minutes, hit pads for a couple of minutes and, if they were lucky, talk to the show’s producers for … Continue reading ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ tryouts and the soul of MMA fighters

2012 canoe/kayak: Hail Slovakia and Hungary

This morning, my former full-time employers at USA TODAY unveiled their 2012 medal projections, produced in conjunction with Infostrada. It has considerably more technical resources behind it than my old 2004 Virtual Medal Count.

Please do check it out along with mine. Between the two, you’ll get a good sense of what to expect in 2012. Their projection will be better-produced, but mine will include commentary. And the occasional Cheap Trick video:

Which serves as an appropriate lead-in for the canoe/kayak projections, which are relatively easy because the World Championships are held every year. In 2011, we’ll have flatwater (sprint) championships Aug. 18-21 in Szeged, Hungary, and the slalom championships Sept. 7-11 in Bratislava, Slovakia.

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