28.8.04

OVERINDULGED SECOND-STRING STREET THUGS UNDERACHIEVE. Why am I not disappointed? Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel sports commentator Michael Hunt diagnoses the problem.

So the question going forward is how the United States, now in a shocking underdog role, can play catch-up to the world in the game it invented. Having a year-round coach would help. [Pro basketball commissioner David] Stern suggested importing a few expatriates from the European leagues who understand the game and could teach it to the Americans.

That makes sense, but it all starts at the top. It was Stern who made the decision to market his league on the basis of the individual star. It has made everybody rich, including Stern, but it has done nothing to enhance the basics that the rest of the world can now do better than the Americans.

Playing as a team would be a start. So would relearning how to shoot. USA basketball. It's not fundamental.

Hear, hear. Hear this, too: it is not the case that the street game has made everybody rich. There has to be research on the effect the large rewards to a few players has had on the human-capital investments of young men, particularly young men of little intellectual ambition from poor neighborhoods. The corrosive effect of big-time sports on the integrity of the universities is well-documented.

SECOND SECTION: The U.S. women's team rallied to defeat the Australian team in the gold medal game. The women's game is still a team game. And really, would you rather look at Allen Iverson or at Lisa Leslie?

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