Posted: Tuesday March 6, 2007 10:39AM; Updated: Tuesday March 6, 2007 10:39AM
1. Hush that mushing: I was reading some of the Iditarod coverage Tuesday morning because, well, it was on SI.com's front page when I came to a realization. There is no sporting event that I could even plausibly enter that I would want to avoid more than the Iditarod. (The "plausibility" clause eliminates things like fighting for the heavyweight championship of the world.) I would much rather, for instance, enter an ultramarathon in Death Valley than the Iditarod, and not just because I have run two marathons and have at least an inkling that I might finish. Basically, I really hate the cold, and what sporting event is colder for longer than mushing 12-16 dogs for 1,150 miles across Alaska for 10-17 days? Consider Tuesday's news item that four-time champ Doug Swingley has withdrawn from this year's race after a fall left him with potentially broken ribs and a possibly dislocated thumb. Read further down the story and you'll note that Swingley scratched from the 2004 race because he suffered frostbite on his corneas when he took his goggles off during wind chills of 90 below. I repeat: His eyeballs froze! Sorry, folks, that's just not for me, no matter how cute the dogs might be.
2. Arkansas coach Houston Nutt fortunately was unhurt after the landing gear on his plane collapsed during an emergency landing on Sunday. But already some Arkansas fans are grumbling that Nutt ordered the plane back onto the ground after originally agreeing to take to the air.
3. UNC forward Tyler Hansbrough, who had his nose broken by an elbow from Duke's Gerald Henderson on Sunday, will likely play in the ACC Tournament this week with a protective mask. Meanwhile, Henderson will wear his mask for off-court protection.
4. Shaquille O'Neal will star in an upcoming weight-loss reality show for ABC. In a spin on The Biggest Loser, Shaq will help schoolkids lose weight. The tentative title is Everybody's a Winner.
5. Speaking of potential ABC shows, the alphabet network is developing a half-hour pilot based on my favorite TV pitchmen, the Geico cavemen. I just can't get enough of the perpetually put-upon prehistoric men. Then again, they seem to have a bit of an attitude already. They'll probably be insufferable with their own series.
6. Canadian drug testing officials are considering deleting marijuana from its list of banned substances. Are you listening, Ricky Williams?
7. The Heat moved over .500 on Monday night for the first time since November and Dwyane Wade announced that he intends to return this season rather than have immediate surgery. In related news, Pat Riley upgraded his likelihood to keep coaching to probable.
8. The Jets reportedly acquired running back Thomas Jones from the Bears for a second-round pick. Though the deal was nearly held up because Chicago kept trying to throw in Rex Grossman.
9. If you've ever wished you could exercise in a health club full of nude people once a week, imagining it would be much like Christina Aguilera and her husband's apparent tradition of "Naked Sundays," it sadly turns out that the reality is far less appetizing. A gym in the Netherlands started a "Naked Sunday" promotion over the weekend. Predictably, the only people to accept the invitation were a dozen middle-aged and elderly men. In fact, Fitworld was packed with several times as many (disappointed) photographers, TV crews and reporters as naked fitness buffs. Apparently some 100 exercise-oriented nudists (nude-oriented exercisers?) had signed up for the event, including eight women, but only the dozen male old-timers actually showed. This phenomenon should be familiar to any American tourist who has hit Europe expecting nude beaches and the like to feature scores of young, tanned, nubile hardbodies. Rather, it always seems to be that the people most willing to go naked in public, especially in northern Europe, are the ones you'd least like to see -- especially flabby old men.
10. Writing the 10 Spot must seem, from an objective perspective, like a pretty cushy gig. Sure, skim the sports news for a while, write up a few would-be witticisms and call it a day. The fact that the readers write the entire column once a month has probably stripped away all remaining Oz-like mystery. But then there are athletes like Ron Artest who gum up the works. Over the weekend, Artest shaved "Kings" into the back of his head, providing a nice visual for Monday's column accompanied by a crack that he's fortunate not to play for the Timberwolves. (Because then he'd need either a giant head or a really small font -- get it?!!) Then Artest goes and gets himself arrested for domestic violence. Well, there's nothing funny about that at all, which completely takes Artest out of circulation for 10 Spot purposes. Unless, of course, I use him to explain why it was so hard to get to No. 10 today.