Thursday, July 27, 2006

The AP is reporting that Floyd Landis tested positive for excessive testosterone on the day of his huge breakaway in the Alps. A retest is pending, but it looks like Floyd cheated. Too bad, he seemed like a genuinely stand-up guy. I'm disappointed, of course. If Landis is stripped of the title, Spaniard Oscar Pereiro, who had a fine race and finished second, will inherit it.

Bad news for the Tour de France. First a dozen riders, including Ullrich and Basso, are disqualified mere days before the race because of the Spanish doping scandal that brought down famous cycling coach Manolo Saez, and now the winner has tested positive for doping. The Tour had better be even stricter in its testing or it's going to go the way of pro wrestling, a popular sport in the early 20th century that died when the fans decided it wasn't on the level. Or boxing; as recently as the 1940s boxing was America's second most important sport after baseball.

I think looking at Sports Illustrated's homepage is instructive about the current ranking of sports in importance in the US. The tabs directly under the headline which readers click on for all the news about a particular sport read, from left to right:

NFL; College football; MLB (major league baseball); NBA; College basketball; Golf; NHL (National Hockey League); Nascar; Soccer; High school; Other sports.

Boxing is down there in "Other Sports" along with team handball and roller hockey, below even high school sports.

Note that soccer gets its own tab now. This is new and shows that Americans are becoming more and more familiar with the game. Another major clue pointing in this direction is that Bill Simmons, America's most popular sports columnist, recently asked his readers to write in recommending which English Premier League he should support. Note that Simmons doesn't give a crap about the American soccer league, which everybody knows is second-rate; he wants to pick a real top-level team playing good football, and those can be found in the EPL. You might be a little surprised at the team he picks; remember, he's from Boston and is a Red Sox fanatic. Brits might be interested in this article, if only to see how a top American sportswriter views their league.

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