Wednesday WUC: Patriotism, Boorish Fans, The Start of Spring

Today's Calls: Patriotism vs. Schadenfreude, USA vs. Canada, Student Sections vs. Decorum, Pitchers vs. Catchers, Karl vs. Cancer, Kobe vs. Depth, Leno vs. Eubanks, Shanoff vs. Levy and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Do We have to root for our Olympians just because they're American? ↵

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↵I'm not posturing for the sake of making a point – it's a legitimate question. Do we have to root for our Olympians because they have an American flag on their uniforms? My wife told me the other day that she isn't a fan of Apolo Ohno – I believe her disdain is soul-patch related – but she'll root for him because he's American. Does that translate to all athletes? ↵

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↵If you do an online search for the name Lindsey Jacobellis, you have an equal amount of empathy and excitement over her latest failure in the Olympics. After Jacobellis was DQ'ed in her semifinal run on Tuesday, she avoided reporters until the USOC stepped in, eventually telling those waiting to interview her that, "it's definitely not the end of the world for me." ↵

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↵Jacobellis acknowledged the fact that her two big chances on the international stage have come up bust – with that ill-advised grab and fall in 2006, and perhaps a bit of karma this time around after a grab in her quarterfinal run earlier in the day – by telling reporters: ↵

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↵⇥"It's unfortunate that the rest of the world only sees this race and the one four years ago. I guess I don't have a great track record with the general public." ↵
↵So should we feel sympathy, or schadenfreude, for Jacobellis?
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↵What about someone like Bode Miller? Miller famously shot his mouth off to 60 Minutes about being drunk on the slopes before getting blanked, 0-for-5, on medals in Torino. This time around, Miller captured the bronze medal in the men's downhill in what's being billed as an Olympic redemption. CNBC's Darren Rovell spoke with both Miller and his agent this week, and while the quotes do explain his mindset, I'm not sure they'll win him any more fans. ↵
↵⇥Darren: Why (is Miller so popular in Europe)? ↵⇥
↵⇥Lowell Taub: His brash, unique personality -- which is not necessarily understood in the United States -- is what endears him to the European fans. A lot of Europeans are conservative or staid or don't exhibit much personality and here's this big, successful, exciting, balls-to-the-wall American who shows a personality. ↵⇥

↵⇥Darren: What happened at the 2006 Games in Torino? ↵⇥
↵⇥Bode Miller: I was in a place where I wasn’t happy about my situation. I didn’t feel like people were looking at the Olympics like I felt they represented -- something positive. I felt like people were counting medals and looking at people like if you didn’t win, you were a disgrace. And I think that bothered me a lot and it was a problem leading up to it for months and months and it kept nagging at me. I want it to be the old Olympics where the Olympic creed is about going and participating in an international sport. It's about how you fight, whether you fight the battle or not and I think I feel a whole lot better about that now. ↵⇥

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↵Americans don't understand his "brash, unique personality?" Yeah, because we're totally unfamiliar with that type of thing in American sports. And while I do appreciate Miller's candor about his mindset leading up to 2006, he's not exactly endearing himself to those of us who pulled for him back then, and are doing so now. Frankly, I don't think he cares. ↵

↵Those are just a few high-profile examples we do know, but there are many other American Olympians we really know nothing about. What if there's an American Olympian who's an embezzler or a philanderer or borrowed a shovel from his neighbor and never gave it back or has terribly-outdated facial hair? Does Patriotism blanket all ills? ↵

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↵More Olympics: ↵
↵• Good win for the U.S. Hockey team, despite not getting a point from its top line. And Sid the Kid was impressive in his Canadian Olympic debut as well. ↵

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↵• Bad Start for Curling Fans: I spent about five hours yesterday watching curling and what do I have to show for it? Two losses for the American men and a loss for the women. In a round-robin tournament, there's still time. ↵

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↵• Stop Throwing Things! How many times can we say this? Stop throwing things anywhere near a basketball floor. This time, it was a few classless losers at the Mississippi State-Kentucky game. It's incredibly dangerous to throw something at another person or even on the court during a game. You're college students, not 3-year-olds. ↵

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↵• A Spring In Your Step: Pitchers and Catchers officially report today, even though most teams have been there for a week working out on their own. The best part of Spring Training has to be the fluff pieces by journos who spend far too long in the Florida sun. ↵

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↵• Cancer is Terrible: The Baseline had a post last night about George Karl, who is taking a leave of absence to have chemotherapy for "a very treatable and curable" form of cancer. This is unrelated to the cancer treatment he had in 2005. We obviously hope for a speedy recovery. ↵

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↵• The Artist Formerly Known as Awesome: Totally not sports related, but check out these old videos of Prince and the Revolution from a rehearsal in 1984. A win for the internet. ↵

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↵• The Lakers are Deep: Kobe missed another game and the Lakers won another game. Eh, who needs him? ↵

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↵• Sinking Ship of Comedy: There's a report that Kevin Eubanks is jumping ship from Team Leno. It took this long? ↵

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↵The Last Word(s): ↵

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↵Thanks to Shanoff for letting another Dan fill in. ↵
↵Every day I read the WUC and never knew how much work it is. ↵
↵Bringing all the top stories to the reader is not easy. ↵
↵Obviously I can't link to every major story line, but… ↵
↵Wasn't there someone I was supposed to mention? ↵

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↵Dan Levy wrote Today's Wake-Up Call. You can read him at TSB throughout the day or listen to him babble at OntheDLpodcast.com. Dan Shanoff usually writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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