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February 25, 2014

RONN MOTT: The Olympics

In the medal count in the Olympics, we ended in second place. In times past, without infusion of money, training, etc., second place might have been OK. For this sports-crazy nation, it is not OK.  

There were some individual disappointments, but as sports there were two major disappointments. There was the ladies figure skating where we have developed not only medal winners but great names in the sport. It is an amazing sport … beauty and athletic prowess coming together on ice skates. We have been very good in the past. The ladies involved have become doctors, television commentators, wives and mothers. And there seemed to be, always, a new crop of lovely young women who take the place of the ones retiring.

Alas and alack, not this time. Not only was the 17-year-old from Russia beautiful on skates, but enthusiastic, athletic and technically better than everyone else. I’m not going to raise the specter of misguided judging because from where I sat it wasn’t the case. She was the best. Let us say she flew around the ice in beauty and strength.

The Korean girl who came in second seemed to be all right technically, but she had the grace and enthusiasm of a zombie.  And it showed brightly as such.

Years ago I broadcast hockey for a Sioux City radio station, KMNS. And the announcers doing the Olympic hockey games mentioned the league saying it was the best junior hockey league in America. I had some wonderful experiences in such faraway places as Thunder Bay, Ontario, Marquette, Calumet and Green Bay in the states. As an old hockey announcer (play-by-play man), the only game I saw that was worthy of the world’s attention, in my opinion, was the Canada-USA game where the speed and the intense defense was what hockey was supposed to be.

Of course, it would have been nicer if we had won, but we did not. I can’t remember what NHL team the USA goalie plays for (one Mr. Quick, and he was), but he may have worked his way into a raise. It would appear the team just ran out of steam, but it doesn’t matter. They didn’t even take third place. No bronze, no silver and, of course, no gold.

The National Hockey League ownership is making noise suggesting they don’t want their players in the next Olympiad and frankly, from the style of play and the results of play, it might be better if we go back to amateurs.   

It will only work if the rules are strong enough so that only amateurs play. But we all know and remember how the old Soviet Union worked around the rules and had the strongest team in “amateur hockey.”

As far as gold medals and other medals go, it will be a while before we have to worry about this again. In the medal count we finished second, which may be exactly what we deserve.  

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on Tribstar.com, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.

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