Archive for July, 2012

For about 10 years I believed I was destined to be an Olympic table tennis player. I envisioned my gold medal showdown against a Chinese competitor and dreamed of standing on the podium while The Star-Spangled Banner played on the loudspeakers. Would I mouth the words while the cameras zoomed in? Yes. Would I cry? No. Perhaps my family would; maybe I would if my agent thought it’d help land endorsements. Janesville would throw a parade for me, or at least make me a grandmaster for the Hay Daze festivities. I’d tour as some type of ping-pong prodigy, taking on all comers in a barnstorming tour across Minnesota — no, across America.

“And now I’ll take on the Iowa state champion…with my left hand!”

This dream started when I was 8 and only ended when I was about 18. What fueled it? My savant-like skills as a young ping-pong player, when I ruled in our basement and also captured a pair of highly prestigious Waseca County titles, each time defeating adult competitors who believed their victories over Grandpa Joe in the garage meant they could beat this 9-year-old phenom. And when I dominated during our table tennis unit in our high school phy ed class — and managed to defeat our previously invincible teacher — then I knew for sure gold was in my future.


The London Olympics kicked off for real Friday night, er Friday morning with a distinctly British yet enjoyable Opening Ceremony. At least, NBC tells us all of that took place Friday, but I’m not entirely sure they can be trusted anymore because of their willingness to manipulate time and space.

No matter, the beginning of the Games got me to thinking about greatness. But I don’t mean human greatness, the kind that Mother Teresa embodied  – I think we’ve all heard enough bad things about famous athletes to prevent us from believing that they’re morally superior – or extraordinary charisma, the stuff that leaves us star struck.

I’m talking about ability and drive and accomplishment. Great as in being the best in the world at something, anything. (more…)

Welcome to our weekly links. By the way, I just started watching Game of Thrones, two years after most people discovered it on HBO (it’s okay, I’m always behind the times; it took me until 2010 to watch The Sopranos). The first season’s discs on Netflix now consume my life. So this is a short intro until I get back to the Starks, Lannisters and imps.

* Grantland ran a long piece on South Africa’s history in the Olympics, which, during the apartheid era, was no history at all.

* A sad story about a name from the past. Neil Reed was a scrappy guard for Indiana who was best known for being choked by Bobby Knight, an incident captured on tape. Reed, who became a high school coach, died Thursday at the age 36 of a heart attack.

* Chris Jones – former Fury Files guest – penned a good piece with the guy who sculpted the famous Joe Paterno statue.

* The always entertaining Drew Magary documented his quest to sing the national anthem at a sporting event.

* TV and Fury met while working in Fargo, as in North Dakota, a state that’s blowing up in both and good and bad ways due to an oil boom. Men’s Journal – yes, Men’s Journal – is the latest to chronicle the Wild West atmosphere.

* In other Olympic news, did you know that Adolph Hitler and the Nazis are behind the torch run? Neither did we until reading this piece by Yahoo! Sports. Hope we didn’t ruin your Opening Ceremonies experience.

The Olympics are underway. Needless to say, TV and Fury are in all.

They lay it out all in this week’s podcast: What are their favorite events? Do they prefer stars or anonymous athletes? Who are the best announcers? Does they get patriotic while watching? And why can’t the Games be on 24 hours a day?

It’s all covered. Here’s the link.


Had a nice little Saturday with the fam. No Bed, Bath & Beyond – we didn’t have time, but we did get to three solid Sioux Falls summer events. Two of them were downtown, the other just up the road.

We lunched at a bustling, corner coffee shop. I ordered a gourmet hot dog – the San Franciscan – replete with avocado, sprouts and cucumbers. It was flippin’ fantastic – flavorful, for sure, but also a delightful combination of hot and cold. Perfect on another 95-degree day. (For the record, not a complaint – I dig the heat.)

About halfway through the dog it hit me: I love downtown Sioux Falls. Love. It. I was genuinely happy in that moment, spending time with my family, enjoying good eats in a quaint spot in a safe place in a sweltering July. And there were other people there – a lot of them, at least by Dakota standards. That made me proud, weirdly and legitimately proud. (more…)

Around 9 a.m. Monday, the NCAA announced unprecedented penalties levied against Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal. Within minutes, the figurative hand-wringing began on Twitter, which, ideal or not, is where millions of us go for real-time news and opinions.

The responses ranged from “The NCAA was too harsh” to “The NCAA was not harsh enough” – although usually in more colorful words – and just about everything in between.

In the event that you haven’t already died from an opinion overdose, here’s mine: There was no right response. Why? Because no punishment related to football or university life is appropriate for crimes of this nature. None. (more…)

Where was Johnny Miller when we needed him? Actually, as much as I do enjoy Miller’s commentary — and I know not everybody does — it would have almost been too cruel to hear him call Adam Scott’s epic collapse in the final round of the British Open on Sunday.

As far as I remember I don’t think Mike Tirico or Paul Azinger or Curtis Strange used the word choke during the final four holes and there’s little doubt Miller would have unleashed it at least a half dozen times. Could anyone blame him?


Interesting week at TVFury, as we got a terrifying glimpse into Terry’s mind and life and we can all now picture him stomping around his Sioux Falls home, bread crust hanging out of his mouth, old cereal milk dripping down his chin, sweat pouring down his cheeks because he refuses to use the air conditioner, while he rants about having no desire to watch a six-hour game between the Yankees and Red Sox.

On to the links.

* In MIAC news that doesn’t involve the state of St. John’s football, Carleton made news as the members of its 50th class reunion raised $30 million during their little gathering. Yeah, yeah? Well, you’ve still never beaten St. John’s in football! Yeah! (shuffles off to donate plasma so there will be enough rent money.)

* Do not give a negative review to The Dark Knight Rises. Do not.

* I’ve never had a BlackBerry. Or an iPhone. But if I would have had one of those two, I think it would have been BlackBerry; it would be in line with my desire to go with older-school companies. Hence, Yahoo! mail. But BlackBerry is not doing well and here’s a good look at why it’s dying.

* Culture alert! Boston magazine has a piece on a guy who has spent his whole life training for the 10 minutes he has to impress members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

* Also today, it’s Ma and Pa Fury’s 44th anniversary. Congrats! And please don’t get divorced, it’d be awkward now.

* TV here. My lone entry this week comes from the legendary Gary Smith. How legit is Smith? I’ve not only heard of him, I’ve read one of his books.
Smith recently wrote a piece for Sports Illustrated chronicling Wonman Joseph Williams, a walk-on football player at the University of Virginia who made national headlines for a politically driven hunger strike. The kid’s story is inspiring, but I remain unsold on the idea that student-athletes are taken advantage of. Some are, sure. But all or most? Not the ones that I interact with through my job as an NCAA Division I beat writer.
I may have to delve into that at a later date. Feel free to chime in.

Lost appetite

Posted: July 19, 2012 by terryvandrovec in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

At the risk of sounding like the spiky-haired scamp from Jerry Maguire, did you know that a person’s taste buds change every seven years?

Me, neither. In fact, that may or may not be true, but my 8-year-old daughter says it is, and I’m working on validating her feelings and therefore suppressing the urge to double-check her information with the Google Machines.

Let’s just go with it. Because there’s no question my taste in sports has changed – and rather dramatically – over the years. (more…)

Pro sports owners have a tough life. Fans usually dislike them, either for their cheap ways or for spending too much money on the wrong guys or for raising ticket prices or restricting beer sales or firing scouting departments or hiring inexpensive coaches or running beloved GMs out of town. And sometimes they move franchises and become the symbols of evil for an entire city or state.

On the other hand they’re billionaires — and own pro sports teams.

Jim Dolan is again taking heat in New York after the Knicks declined to bring Jeremy Lin back to the team. It’s just the latest move in an ownership career filled with odd decisions off the court and disastrous results on it.

In LA, Lakers fans continue to worry about life under Jim Buss, who has taken over the team from his beloved father, Jerry, who guided the team to 10 titles in 30 years and helped ensure the team usually won in style, all while he dated girls in their 20s.

All owners are rich but no owners are truly alike. There are great ones and terrible ones, hands-off leaders and their-fingerprints-are-all-over-the-crime-scene-Chief dictators. Some become famous, others remain anonymous.

What kind of owner would you be?