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August 14, 2012 3:30 PM

Column Awards of the Week (8/7-8/13)

By updating RealClearSports I read hundreds of articles every week but sometimes there are particular passages that need highlighting. And to make these passages more palatable I'm doing them in award form! The awards are completely random and will change weekly.

Column Awards for slide.jpgI've got a real sports dilemma right now. I was prepared to rip Dwight Howard (yet again) this week but now that he's headed to my beloved Lakers I don't know what to do. I can't wait to see him run the pick and roll with Steve Nash. I'm salivating over Russell Westbrook slashing through the lane and then getting the ball spiked back in his face from 'Superman'. I'm looking forward to watching Kobe and Metta World Peace gamble even more on defense knowing they have the best defender in the World behind them. But am I ready to forgive Howard for about a year of horrible decisions?

His latest mistake came when he decided to skip his own youth basketball camp in Orlando to stay in Los Angeles and continue his rehab. In hindsight, maybe Howard knew a deal was about to go down with the Lakers and that's why he made the decision. The reason though doesn't really matter. What does matter was it was another big PR hit that could've easily been avoided.

There were so many ways Howard could've turned this into an image-building event. Showing up despite his problems with the Magic could have showed he is above that drama and that he truly cares about the kids that shelled out big bucks to attend his camp. A full refund was offered when it was announced he would not be in attendance but that's of little consolation to the kids that have looked forward to meeting him for months and the parents that planned their lives around their kids being in camp for those days.

Howard could've also refunded everyone's money and maybe recruited some of his Magic teammates to attend. He could have given signed jerseys to each camper and done a Skype call. He could've offered tickets to any game for the following season. There were so many options that would have made him look better than deciding just to not show up and just offer a meaningless refund.

He likes to be the center of attention and clamors to be loved. How else do you explain him playing it up with the media with his impression of Kobe in his introduction as a Laker? Los Angeles is ready to embrace their newest big man. Many of them complained about Andrew Bynum's immaturity but is Howard really that much better in that regard? I will quickly fall in line and fall in love with the Dwight if he buys in to working hard and putting up the monster stats he is used to, but I'm not quite ready to give him the benefit of the doubt yet. On to the awards!

Best Take on Howard Trade
Matt Moore of ProBasketballTalk nailed the Howard trade with this excerpt: Howard told reporters at his introductory press conference as a Los Angeles Laker that he was just glad everything was over and that he could "breathe" again. Which is convenient, since he literally choked the life out of the Orlando Magic franchise.

He created this whole mess and then acted like the victim in talking about how relieved he was to have it all be over. But as relieved as he is, he hasn't said he will necessarily re-sign with the Lakers so we could be going through all of this again in less than a year.

Bitter Orlando
Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel has gone back and forth with Dwight Howard but once it was clear he had one foot out the door, all praise went out the window and he's hammered him ever since. His most recent column on Howard discusses how hurt the fans in Orlando are over his departure: The reason it hurts so badly is because everybody did everything possible to make Dwight want to stay. The Magic gambled and drafted him No. 1 eight years ago when all the experts said they should have taken Emeka Okafor. In the ensuing years, the Magic burst through the salary cap and spent tons of money -- often foolishly -- trying futilely to put the talent around him to win a championship.

So the Magic gambling and taking him No. 1 means he should have extreme loyalty to the franchise? They made a business decision and it paid off. The reason it paid off is because Howard worked to become one of the best players in the league. That is not an example of the Magic doing everything possible to make him stay.

Ignoring the Obvious
Geoff Calkins of the Memphis Commercial Appeal basically writes that men drool and women rule: It's the humiliating truth about these Games. American men are taking their sweet time, while American women are taking names. Pick a sport. Any sport. My gender is getting killed in the race for golds. ... It's embarrassing, I tell you, a crisis for the American male.

It seems the article is a little tongue-in-cheek but it still fails to address WHY women are dominating while men are not. The problem is American men aren't competing against American women. Women getting more medals doesn't mean that men are falling behind or something. He fails to address the fact that the reason the United States' women are excelling is because America cares more about women's sports than other countries and much of that has to do with Title IX. Other countries are begrudgingly sending women to the games because the IOC is forcing their hand while Americans mop the floor in many of the major events.

Ways to Make It Seem U.S. Even More Dominant
The United States ran away with the medal count in the final few days of the Olympics. They tallied 104 total medals to China's 88 and won 8 more gold medals than the People's Republic. But for some writers that wasn't enough. Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News has his own way of measuring medals: ... I'm proposing that by the time the Games reconvene in Sochi, Russia, in the dead of winter two years hence, all the mathletes in the audience will have latched onto the concept of the DPC as the official metric of national Olympic success. DPC? It stands for DeCourcy Podium Count. The "podium count" concept is simple: How many athletes actually visit the medal stand and officially accept awards for their success?

Under the new system the United States would've destroyed China in gold medals, 130 to 56. USA! USA!
But DeCourcy's not the only one that thinks the medal count is flawed. Chris Chase of the Yahoo! blog, Fourth-Place Medal has his 'real' medal count in which he eliminates any medal awarded based on judge's scores. It does make some sense since there has been so much corruption among Olympic judges. Although I never saw a final tally, through 11 days the official medal count was 73 to 70 in China's favor but the 'real' medal count had the U.S. leading 59 to 53. And let me repeat... USA! USA!

Completely Whiffing on Chad Johnson Fiasco
David Steele of Sporting News is thoroughly confused by why the Dolphins brought in Chad Johnson and why they cut him now: Their decision is questionable, for sure. The real question, though, is this: With a lengthy track record of buffoonery, a recent track record of being a lousy player and proof already of distracting behavior during that small window of training camp, what made this the straw that broke their backs?

Don't you get how this works? A HUGE negative media story will often trigger a response like this. He mentions transgressions featured in "Hard Knocks" that should've been enough to cut Johnson but those are far different than the issue of domestic abuse. First off, who knows how Chad Johnson has really acted with the Dolphins. I'm not about to put a ton of stock into what HBO broadcasts since they obviously are trying to put forth the most entertaining show. Secondly, those are in-house issues that can easily be dealt with but charges of domestic abuse become a much bigger PR nightmare and not something any franchise wants to be linked to.

Uh-oh, more questions, guys. What on- and off-field criteria supported signing Johnson in the first place?
Was it those 15 catches last season in New England, as part of one of the most prolific offenses in league history? The utter lack of interest by any other NFL team after the Patriots dumped him? His age (34), 11 years of wear-and-tear and, lately, decreasing effectiveness? ... Johnson's last job destroyed his career and his reputation. The Dolphins might have suffered even more damage in taking on the risk with him.

How could the Dolphins possibly suffer more damage? This is a team with about 20 different celebrity owners that hasn't been competitive for years. They are the laughingstock of the NFL and nothing Chad Johnson did was going to change that.

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