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As I See It

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Is there still passion in sports?

For the first time in my writing career, such as it is, I was struck this morning by a writer’s worst nightmare. I was one sentence from finishing an article I had been creating for a couple of hours or more…and suddenly, for no apparent reason, the screen went blank, and I was back on the desktop…document gone…What happened? Where did it go? What the…?!? Oh, no…I hadn’t hit the "save" button. [email protected]#$ !!!! =Just when I was about to put the finishing touch on the final sentence…and make a poignant statement…WHOOOSH, all gone.

Okay, take a moment, collect yourself, take a deep breath - maybe that first draft wasn’t so good anyway, and maybe I needed a clean start, and maybe the PC was helping me by clearing my slate…must find the silver lining.

Well, here’s kinda what I was thinking and writing before I was so rudely interrupted by this [email protected]#$ PC (note to self: hit the save button every once in a while).

I realize that there are a ton of sporting events going on right now, but I’m not feeling too passionate about any one of them. Why? I’m not sure.

For instance, Danica Patrick of IndyCar fame (adorable and cute as a button, but never actually won an IndyCar race. Still she gets all the headlines – heck, even I read the articles when her picture accompanies the story – shhhh, don’t tell my wife) took third at the Texas Motor Speedway. This is newsworthy due to her much publicized shouting and shoving match with Dan Welden for bumping her on the race course last week. Fortunately they got together, made amends and promised to play nice with each other for the rest of the season. Good story. Oh, and by the way, Sam Hornish Jr. won the race.

The French Open concluded on Sunday with Roger Federer facing Rafael Nadal again in the finals and again Nadal took it to Roger, winning his third consecutive French Open title. And, on the ladies side, Justine Henin spanked Ana Ivanovic for HER third consecutive French open title and fourth overall. How about that? Male and female 3-time consecutive Champions at Roland Garros at the same time, what are the odds?

I watched most of the last set of the ladies match on Saturday, but frankly, was bored. Justine was just so dominant that there was no drama, no pizzazz (now had Maria Sharapova been in the finals, I would’ve watched all of that match, let me tell you – Maria’s got pizzazz - shhhh, don’t tell my wife). The best part of the Henin match was the acceptance speech at the trophy presentation. Being Belgian, Justine spoke French, and although I don’t speak or understand French, I enjoyed every word she said. There’s just something about a woman speaking French (I must remind my wife she knows how to speak French!).

Hey, anyone else check out the Major League Baseball Power Rankings on ESPN.com? I hadn’t looked all season, and lo and behold look who’s number one. My hometown team, the San Diego Padres! Now, I know they have the best pitching staff in all the majors with a 2.95 ERA, but unfortunately they also have the worst batting average in the National League at .242. They are going to need to bring up their hitting and maintain that dominant pitching rotation and bullpen if they are to win a third consecutive National League West crown and hopefully go further than the first round of the playoffs this year. Let us not forget the Padres have Trevor Hoffman, arguably the greatest closer in baseball history, having notched his 500th save last week, and saved 18 so far this year out of 20 chances. And at 39 and still effective, he will likely continue for a few more years, as evidenced by another pitching marvel, Roger Clemens.

Roger, 44, just pitched six strong innings for the Yankees, struck out seven and got the win on Saturday. If he can stay healthy, he’ll only get stronger as the season progresses, and maybe, just maybe, those Yankees can make a run at the Red Sox for the American East title. How about that for a vision, the Pads vs. the Yankees in the ‘07 World Series?! That’ll give the Pad’s a chance to avenge their ’99 World Series loss to those [email protected]#$ Yankees.

As for the NBA, all I can say is go LeBron! Let’s win game two in San Antonio, split the series with the Spurs and make this series a dog fight and take it to a game seven. If the Cavs go down 0-2 to Tim Duncan and his mates, it would be a quick ending, and nobody wants to see that. Especially me, who can’t wait not only for a closely contested competition, but also the next in the series of LeBron’s commercials where he plays three characters: The old LeBron, the young one and the cool one. I love those spots! LeBron is brilliant. Only thing is…I don’t remember the product he’s endorsing. Is it Nike? I forget.

All these great sporting events are going on, and I am feeling a little, I don’t know, ho-hum about these things.

Wait a minute, I’ll tell you what I felt passionate about! Last week I went to the Sandpoint High School Track and Field banquet. What an exciting time for the athletes, the parents and the coaches. Honored at the event were the 23 athletes they sent to the State Championships in Boise a couple of weeks back. Megan Bartlett won the 3200, and Katie Adams won the 100 hurdles to become the state champions – and Megan’s only a sophomore! The girls’ 4x400 relay team placed second, set a school record and took a full nine seconds off of their previous personal record time. The coaches couldn’t have been more proud not only of their athlete’s performance on the track, but their behavior off the field which was exemplary, and that both the boys and girls team were awarded for their high collective team GPAs. The team will be losing some key senior athletes as always, but there is a solid core of juniors that will be leading the way for another run at State next year.

That’s what is so great about sports, it can touch you emotionally on many levels; you can marvel at the excellence of all those million dollar professionals who have reached the mountain top and are striving to maintain their excellence, and you can also watch and be moved by young student-athletes developing and growing before your very eyes and see them work to reach their full potential. It’s the best of both worlds.

How can you not be passionate about that!

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Scott Johnson Scott Johnson I was born a poor German child in the suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin on a cold April eve in 1958, on the heels of the greatest event in the history of the state: the hiring of Vincent T. Lombardi to the Green Bay Packers. Hence began my love affair with the game of football and my team in green and gold. Due to my father’s (100%) disability with MS, we moved to sunny San Diego, CA in the summer of 1968 to escape the bitter cold of those Wisconsin winters and its negative effect on my Dad's disease. While in San Diego I found not only my love for beautiful beaches and beautiful girls, but also for the stage. From junior high through college at San Diego State University, I was performing and directing in three to five theatrical productions per year. Between theatre and football I managed to squeeze in distance running as an avocation, competing in numerous 10k races, half marathons and finally the San Diego Marathon. Realizing that the chances of becoming a fabulously rich and famous actor were few and far between, I decided on an advertising career in the newspaper business as my vocation. I began at a weekly publication, then a daily, then the #1 monthly senior publication in the country, Senior World Newsmagazine, where I became their Regional Sales Manager. Looking for a “quality of life” change for our family, my wife I found Sandpoint, Idaho in 1993 and moved here with our son in 1994. I worked for the Daily Bee and then in the car business before finding my niche as Director of Sales and Advertising for Keokee Creative Group in 2001, where I remain today. In the Fall of 2006, Trish found my knowledge of sport, my gift of gab and my theatrical spin on life in the sporting world a match for the River Journal, and I’ve been writing my sports column ever since. Still waiting for that call from Sports Illustrated, though. Of course now that Ric Reilly has retired, maybe there’s a chance…

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