November 14, 2009
Best and worst of Leafs
By GARY LOEWEN
Sometimes, solutions to sports problems seem so simple.
a) In golf, because of better equipment, some courses are at risk of becoming obsolete.
The PGA Tour’s response? Lengthen courses ... build 7,500-yard monsters that suck up more land, more water, more fertilizer.
The easy solution? Banish the superballs that fly 25% farther than their predecessors. End of hand-wringing.
b) The NHL is just as irrational in dealing with increasingly violent collisions.
Blindside hits are causing a string of concussions and related injuries.
The reason this is happening? Equipment has become lightweight, yet more rigid and unforgiving.
Modern players have the same protection as a medieval knight — except their chain-mail suits are made of space-age polymers — so they can assault opponents without impunity.
The only thing missing from the ensemble: Space helmets from NASA.
No wonder some hits can hurt.
NHL general managers will strike up a committee to study headshots and blindside hits, amid worries that bodychecking will be filtered out of the game.
Easy solution? A simple return to lower-tech equipment, so when unsuspecting players are bodychecked, the result won’t be like Wile E. Coyote being flattened by an Acme anvil.
Good and ugly
Reader Tom Trei points out a paradox between separate hockey rankings published by Forbes Magazine and ESPN The Magazine.
Forbes, as outlined in the space on Thursday, ranked the Maple Leafs No. 1 in value among NHL franchises.
The Leafs are worth $470 million.
But ESPN’s annual ranking placed the Leafs last among NHL franchises, based on how much they give back to fans in exchange for their time, emotion and money.
On the other hand, most Leafs fans don’t seem to complain much about that investment of time, emotion and money.
Win by a whisker
Swimmer Mark Spitz was reliving his glory days in an interview this week with the Colorado Springs Gazette.
Before Spitz won seven gold medals at the 1972 Munich Olympics, a Russian swimming coach asked if his moustache slowed him down.
“It doesn’t,” Spitz replied. “It deflects water away from my mouth.”
The next year, Spitz said, “Every single Russian male swimmer had a moustache. And unfortunately, a couple East German women swimmers, too.”
Not a toupee
As far as Guinness records go, this one is a lock.
Manjit Singh, an athletic 59-year-old from Leicester, England, pulled a double-decker bus over a distance of 21.2 metres ... with his hair.
Among other records set on the fifth annual Guinness World Records Day:
In Denmark, Jim Lyngvild peeled and ate three lemons in 28.5 seconds;
In Germany, Joe Alexander broke a stack of 11 concrete blocks with his elbow while holding a raw egg.
We bet that their mothers are proud.