Insanity. Just pure, unbridled insanity.
One day? All this happened in one day? 16-year-old Penny Oleksiak wins silver for Canada in the Olympic pool. Jim Furyk shoots a round of 58 to set a PGA record. Alex Rodriguez announces his retirement. Ichiro collects his 3,000th major league hit. The NFL cancels a game because of paint. Novak Djokovic is knocked out of the Olympics by the world's 141st-ranked men's player, while the top-ranked Williams sisters are punted in the first round in doubles. A Sunday in sports so frenetic, it must have been scripted by Aaron Sorkin or whoever it is that wrote Gilmore Girls. Cut back on the caffeine, Sunday. Or at least stop spiking your coffee with so much gin.
THE LITTLE THINGS
Well done, Penny Oleksiak. You too, Taylor Ruck. Olympic medals for Canada at the age of 16. My greatest accomplishment at age 16? I parallel parked perfectly - and I mean perfectly - on the first try during my driver's exam. It was in a car with a standard transmission, too. I still brag about it to this day. Or at least I did.
There are lifeguards at the Olympic pool, watching over the battles for gold. Four of them. According to Rio law, any public pool over a certain size must have lifeguards. As you can see, below, it doesn't rise to Baywatch levels of excitement.
Ottawa Redblacks' quarterback Henry Burris got into a feud with the TSN football panel on Saturday night. Burris told them and any of his detractors (perceived, some of them), to "shove it." Panellist Milt Stegall responded by saying that Burris was sounding "like a baby." If the CFL wants to ramp up its outreach to a younger demographic, may I suggest gathering all the parties involved and locking them in one house together. "Big Brother: CFL" could stream live on Periscope or Elk Horn or Mustard Bottle or whatever the hell is the latest streaming app. I'd watch that just to see Chris Schultz pick everyone up at once and toss them into the pool.
The NFL had to cancel Sunday's Hall of Fame game because the paint they used on the field congealed into a tar-like mess in the sun. I dunno, seeing players getting caught in a giant glue trap might have added a little sizzle to the usual snorefest that is pre-season football.
THE LITTLE THINGS, BONUS OLYMPICS OPENING CEREMONY EDITION
Is it safe to say that an Olympics opening ceremony gives the majority of us almost all of our interpretive dance exposure?
Duran Duran did not sing Rio. Barry Manilow did not sing Copacabana. I would rail against the organizing committee for that but I think I'd better hold my fire until after the closing ceremony. You're on notice, Rio.
If anyone sees one of those opening ceremony tricycles on ebay, please alert me immediately. I want one of those in my life.
The environmental section of the ceremony, with it's global warming component, could also have been called the "You know we're not the only ones with a pollution problem, right?" portion.
Saw a commercial that showed a Canadian athlete using tooth whitener but they did not use the slogan "because you don't want bronze teeth to go along with your gold medal." By they way, did we okay that whitener stuff with WADA?
That was some serious fireworking, Rio. Somewhere, Oprah rose from her chair, pointed at her TV screen and hollered "I want that on my next birthday, people!"
A number of things really made a guy's heart sing on the weekend. The look on Penny Oleksiak's face when she realized she finished second in the 100 metre butterfly. Good guy Jim Furyk setting PGA record with a final round 58 at the Travelers Championship. Ichiro clubbing a triple to climb into the 3,000 hit club in major league baseball.
Two more things happened to lift your spirits and make you feel like good things can happen in a world that sometimes seems increasingly devoid of them. Those two things came in the form of swimmer Yusra Mardini and curler Craig Savill.
Savill, the popular lead who won two world championships with Glenn Howard before joining the Nova Scotia team of Shawn Adams last fall, gave everyone a smile when he tweeted this out on Friday afternoon:
— Craig Savill (@CraigSavill) August 5, 2016
Shortly after Savill began the season, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma and had to step away from the game for treatment. The curling season didn't seem the same without him but one night at The Brier, in Ottawa, Savill owned the place when he joined Howard during a game to throw a couple of stones. Whether his treatments were going to be effective was still unknown at that point and it made for some powerful emotions. Through his ordeal, Savill never publicly showed anything more than his trademark humour and positive spirit. It was a beautiful thing to hear his good news.
Mardini's story is as heartbreaking as it is ultimately uplifting. Last summer when she was 17-years-old, she and her family were fleeing Syria when their dinghy started to take on water in the Mediterranean Sea. It almost sank but they all made it to shore after Mardini, her sister and another refugee jumped in the water and began kicking. They kicked for three hours as they pushed the swamped boat and its passengers safely to shore. A year later, Mardini won her heat in the 100 metre butterfly at the Olympics, representing the Refugee Olympic Team; A team that consists of Mardini and nine other athletes who've been forced to flee their homelands (Syria, Congo, Sudan and Ethiopia). Mardini didn't advance past that heat in the butterfly, but that hardly matters at all. "We didn’t stop at our refugee trip, and we continued,” she said after the race.
Keep going. Because what else is there to do? Thanks to Yusra Mardini and Craig Savill for reminding us all of that, with their spirit and determination. Sometimes it's much more than fun and games in the world of sport. Much, much more.