January Juggling

Welcome to The Ladies Room! I’m your humble janitor, Laura Boswell — sportswriter, broadcaster, college hall-of-famer, and passionate fan of all things athletic. (@lauraeboswell)

Each Monday, I’ll give a quick rundown of the last week’s best sports stories and why they are useful for anyone, but especially women — to use at the water cooler, to bond with your kids, and to have more fun with your spouse/partner. And all in the time it takes to toast a Pop-Tart.

Well, except this first installment, because I need to explain a few things:

Despite the title, the intent is good fun, not to condescend to women. Really. I am one. Many women love sports (44% of NFL fans are female*). Many men do not. But…

This is not a “women’s sports” column. It’s an agnostic look at some of the week’s best and worst stories, period. It may be a running back. It may be a badass basketball babe. Or a badminton player. Or a running back texting a picture of his junk to that badminton player. From the Seahawks to Seabiscuit, everyone will get a turn.

It’s also about sports’ practical applications: Using a recent baseball stat to ease an awkward elevator ride with the boss. Explaining why your son wants those $200 Nikes. Demonstrating algebra to your sixth-grader using hockey. Kicking butt in your fantasy football league (maybe even winning cash, if I gambled, which I do not. Especially on NCAA men’s basketball tourney brackets. Nope, not me.)

I also hope to add tips from athletes, explanations of basic rules and signals, inspirational stories, and the fun stuff — dating gossip, tailgating recipes, science project ideas—whatever you want, just ask.

Basically, this blog is for anyone who wants a quick round-up of key stories, a good laugh, and to use sports to boost confidence in job interviews or at cookouts, and — most important — just to better enjoy games. Sports have led me to success at work, to meeting great people, to staying healthy. You deserve the same.

And on a larger scale, sports cross every American industry — entertainment, politics, fashion, education, religion…They are a social currency you should know. I live in Washington, DC. I hate politics. But I’m an American and I need to know the issues. And sports are waaay more fun than the fiscal cliff.

So. Want respect from the boys’ club? Learn sports. Need conversation? More friends? A date? Learn sports. Want your kids to be healthy, active leaders? Teach them sports.

That said, I’m already behind — partially from fighting a two-week mutant death flu, but also because in the last two weeks alone, storylines that would be considered fantastic any time have coincided with others almost too stunning to believe. So let’s catch up:

Band of Brothers: The media has been salivating for it, and so have I. For the first time, two brothers will coach against one another in the Super Bowl. Jim Harbaugh (San Francisco) and John Harbaugh (Baltimore) will lead 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Ravens’ veteran linebacker Ray Lewis in New Orleans Feb. 3. Lewis, a beloved but controversial 13-time Pro Bowl selection, will retire after this season at age 37.

A Bicycle Built for BOOO!: After years of brazen denial (he called one accuser a “whore”), cyclist Lance Armstrong finally admitted to Oprah (and NOBODY lies to Oprah) that he did indeed use “PEDs”—performance-enhancing drugs—winning a record seven Tours de France. The admission raises many moral questions: Does having cancer allow one special privileges to remain competitive? Are PEDs OK if others are allegedly using them too? One certainty: Lance is banned from Olympic sports, and his credibility “lives strong” no longer.

Class Dismissed: PEDs also made history in baseball this month–no player was elected to the 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame. Behemoths Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa (hitters) and Roger Clemens (pitcher) were all blackballed, likely due to their suspected use of steroids. Steroids have become so pervasive, players have testified about it (and confessed) before Congress. Boys younger and younger are using steroids to get a jump on the competitive, and potentially lucrative, college/pro sports industry. Could yours be one of them?

Move Over Honey Boo Boo: In other baseball cheating news, Cincinnati Reds star Pete Rose has long been banned from baseball, despite a still-unmatched 23-year career, for admitted gambling on his own team. Now he and fiancée Kiana Kim have their own The Learning Channel (of course) reality show, “Hits and Mrs.” (My bet? Terrible. So it will be a huge hit.)

Venus Outshone: Superstar Venus Williams lost to Maria Sharapova Friday at the Australian Open, the first of the four tennis Grand Slam events (also French Open/ Wimbledon/U.S. Open). But as of this writing, sister Serena is the predicted tourney winner. Also in women’s tennis, Gertrude “Gussie” Moran, who dared to bare at Wimbledon 1949 with a short skirt and ruffled briefs, has died at age 89. (She lost the match but became a media darling, “Gorgeous Gussie.”)

Ice, Ice Baby: After a months-long “lockout”—a money dispute between players and owners—professional hockey is officially back on. Stanley Cup winners the L.A. Kings, however, lost their first game 5-2 to the Blackhawks. Now, a quick quiz for the kids. Q: Hockey normally has 82 games; this season, 48. What percentage of the season did the lockout cost fans? A: 41% (divide 48 by 82, then subtract from 100%)

Hoax and Heartbreak: In an ongoing mystery, adored Notre Dame linebacker and Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te’o has been called both victim and conspirator in a bizarre online prank. He met girlfriend Lennay Kekua on Facebook, but she allegedly died of leukemia this fall. Now it’s been revealed she never existed, and 22-year-old Ronaiah Tuiasosopo was behind the scam. Tuiasosopo has confessed, but larger issues include Te’o’s draft status, his possible use of the situation to garner sympathy, and other “catfishing” scams aimed to fool celebrities into befriending false personas.

In Other News: Skier Lindsey Vonn has recovered from a severe bacterial illness to win her first World Cup event in five weeks…Revered Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver died at 82 on a baseball-themed cruise… The top-ranked Louisville men’s basketball team fell to #6 Syracuse 70-68… #13 Butler upset #8 Gonzaga on a buzzer beater. (added 1/21): Hall-of-Fame Cardinals hitter Stan “The Man” Musial passed away Saturday at age 92 (thanks for the heads-up, Bob Somerville!)

OK there we go. I know we’ve missed some stories, and I’ve botched some grammar, I know, I know, I know. It’s a work in progress, I hope you’ll hang with me. Til next week…

*ESPN Sports Poll/U.S. Census

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6 thoughts on “January Juggling

  1. Thanks for starting your Sports Blog and good introduction. Looking forward to your weekly take and posts. Good luck making it to Opening Day. Pitchers and catchers report in a few weeks. 🙂

  2. This is a great blog! I feel stupid because of my complete lack of sports knowledge but your blog makes me feel like there’s hope for me yet. Thanks Laura!

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