This Week in 'Merica
Welcome to the first ever This Week in 'Merica, the most libertyriffic sports and pop culture report in all the world. Published whenever we feel like it, because this is a free country. Written (ok, dictated to me) by a bald eagle. If George Washington took a timeout from fighting British terrorists and blogged about sports and pop culture Outkick-style, this would be that. Ladies and gentlemen (and Big Ten fans), this is This Week in 'Merica.
'Merican of the Week
If you woke up in the land of the free and the home of the brave this morning, you're ahead of the game, folks. Nice job. But some of you out there woke up extra 'Merican. Each TWIM we'll look at one of you hard-chargers that's outperforming the field.
Our very first MotW: the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventurists. These red, white and blue-blooded cyclists are following in the wagon ruts of their founding fathers, riding bikes literally from sea to shining sea. They started in Atlantic City, New Jersey on June 5 and will end in Astoria, Oregon on August 10 having ridden 3,600 miles in just over two months. The best part: they might not be exploring their manifest destiny, or spreading freedom across the plains, but their pilgrimage west is for a great cause. Over the course of their six-year existence the group has raised almost a million dollars for the Fuller Center (they'll hit a mill' this ride.) Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Millard Fuller (who holds degrees from Auburn and Alabama and previously founded Habitat for Humanity) started the center, which raises money to eliminate poverty housing around the world.
In typical freedom lover fashion, rider (and Army Reservist helicopter pilot) Dan Zassick says, "I love the exploring. Every day it's a brand new route with new views and challenges. I'm getting to see just about everything the country has to offer. And getting to work on the various [home] builds and projects is awesome and really makes it more than just a bike ride." If you want to donate to these great Americans' cause, or join them on one of their (tired by now) legs, check their website.
To the adventurers: For exceptional willingness to sacrifice your poor, sweaty, crotchular areas for a great cause, and embodying our country's love of sacrificing for those in need, I hereby award ten Freedom Points to you. Your actions have brought great credit upon yourselves, your nether regions, and 'Merican cyclers everywhere.
You're now the all-time leader in Freedom Points, by the way, which I would imagine makes all those miles pretty much worth it.
Might be a terrorist: PED users and PED apologists
This story will never go away. From the NFL outrageously entering another season without HGH testing to Tony LaRussa putting out a statement that PED users should get into the Hall of Fame with an asterisk, it's been a big week for performance enhancers. Listen, Barry Bonds might've been the best thing to happen to baseball since the athletic cup (very important), but cheaters don't belong in the hall. That would be like Bernie Madoff making it into the investing Hall of Fame. Or me winning a "who can do my taxes best" contest. It just wouldn't be right. Halls of fame are for heroes, and cheating disqualifies you. And it's not just the users that are the problem either. The NFL Players Association and the league are equally responsible. The asinine lack of policy is 100 percent unreasonable. Even the UFC has a reasonably solid anti-drug policy, and they employ tons of fighters that are on and off drugs more often than Lindsay Lohan.
For their lack of respect for the rules, their wanton disregard for the American value of "don't be a big fat cheating cheater," and a proclivity for bending and breaking rules, I hereby declare PED users and PED non-punishers alike the title of our very first Possible Terrorist.
More 'Merican than 'Merica
Believe it or not, there are things that the rest of the world does better than the U.S. I can't think of any off the top of my head, but I do have the internet, and much to my surprise, so does the rest of the world (even Canada!). In honor of the World Cup ending, here's one thing that the internet tells me the U.S. sports landscape could benefit from: promotion/relegation.
Imagine if your local minor league team had the chance to play its way into the majors, so that if the Nashville Sounds baseball team won the minor league championship they would be "promoted" to the majors. Crazy as that sounds, that's the case in every major soccer league in the world outside the U.S. Leagues are set up in a hierarchy system in England, for example, there are 4 different levels of pro teams. Teams move up if they earn a spot in the higher division. And teams are "relegated," or moved down to the next lower league to make room. Millions of dollars are at stake. And the opportunity to see your local team go up against the Very Big Clubs? Priceless. The best part of promotion/relegation is that it makes every game count. There's no tanking to get better draft picks (looking at you, NBA.) Through the last game in the season, teams at the top and bottom of every league have everything to play for. Some of the most exciting games in the world of soccer are played on the last day of the season between two teams trying not to get relegated.
Will it happen? Probably not, other than in my over-30 men's soccer league. But it should. There's nothing more 'Merican than meritocracies. Except democracies. Or Erin Andrews.
Till next time, may all your lands be loved, all your mountains be purple, and all your pies be apple.
Holler, harangue, hail, or hassle me here: @fastacton.