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Finally, an end to the days of whine



Published: Sun, February 24, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Tonight, when you sit down to watch the closing ceremony of the Olympic games, here's a snack suggestion.

A nice assortment of cheese. And pop the cork on your favorite bottle of vino.

It'll go nicely with all the whine we've been served these last two weeks.

I'm not the biggest fan of "Olympic" sports anyway. I don't discount the preparation the athletes go through, and I'm the first to admit I couldn't perform an aerial any more than I would want to watch.

(I'm not a big fan of jumping off bridges, either; that doesn't mean I can't have an opinion about it.)

And, a lot of these sports don't meet my personal, basic criteria for something to be classified as a sport: You score points based on achievement, rather than someone's opinion.

Point system: See, nobody from the St. Louis Rams complained that they were cheated after the Super Bowl. The final result was determined by action on the field.

But at these games, even meeting that simple criteria hasn't stopped the crying and belly-aching.

Witness the Russian hockey team following Friday's loss to the United States in the men's semifinals, members of which left a few choice words for the officials on the ice before retreating to their locker room.

Their main complaints centered around the nationality of the referee and one linesmen, both Canadians. Assuming before the game -- and issuing a public statement to that effect -- that they wouldn't, or couldn't get a fair shake from the North American officials made a handy excuse in case the Russians lost the game.

Those public pronouncements were just the latest in a series of whining by the Russians, who were upset by the results of the ladies' figure skating and cross-country skiing, and a general feeling they were being cheated.

Who says Russia hasn't been Americanized?

Ugly Russians: The former Iron Curtain countries, we can assume, now have taken on one of the uglier personas of American culture; that is, "It isn't whether you win or lose, but how you can blame someone else for your defeat."

Of course, we ugly Americans shouldn't have to take all of the blame (or is it credit?). This mess all started with the whining figure skaters from Canada, who thought they were robbed of a gold medal in the pairs.

And let's not forget hockey great Wayne Gretzky, who complained of an anti-Canadian sentiment at the Games. (Note to Wayne: Don't bite the hand that feeds you; if it weren't for us ugly Americans shelling out those outrageous NHL ticket prices all those years, you'd wouldn't have had the chance to achieve the celebrity status you now enjoy, to the extent that we'd really care about anything you had to say).

But, back to the skating hubbub.

The International Olympic Committee and the governing arm of skating, the International Skating Union, investigated and decided that some behind the scenes maneuvering had been done. Then they reacted in the worst possible way -- they awarded a second gold medal.

How they couldn't have foreseen that every outcome in the skating competition would be protested in the same way is beyond me, especially with a Russian among the favorites in the women's event.

That second gold medal opened the door for virtually every result to be contested -- except maybe in curling, where the contestants are so polite they're miked during the competition. (Besides, would you argue with someone holding a 42-pound rock)?

XRob Todor is sports editor of The Vindicator. Write to him at todor@vindy.com.




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