Thinking about Lance Armstrong today. While he has never been a hero of mine, he certainly laid claim to that title across the planet.  But with the latest salvo fired first by the USADA and then followed by the judge who threw out Armstong’s lawsuit against the USADA, America’s favorite cancer survivor and cyclist might be finally coming to a gigantic and final fall from grace.

Speaking of the USADA, US Soccer goalie Hope Solo was recently reprimanded after a drug test administered by the agency indicated a banned substance in her urine.  Turns out, her physician prescribed medication to treat menstrual cramps and the medication includes trace amounts of a banned substance.  She was notified but will be allowed to compete in the Olympics.

Is Dara Torres headed out to the pool today?  Does she continue her training regimen despite not qualifying for the US Olympic team?  She has officially retired from competitive swimming but she is only 45 years old and fit as a fiddle.  What now?  Triathlons maybe?  It is hard to imagine that someone who has devoted so much of her life to competition can back off from that so abruptly.

Cuban-American Torres probably has many options.  She is attractive and well-spoken, she is a published author and successfully toured behind the release of that book, and has a daughter just entering first grade (I think) this fall. The world may well be her oyster right now.  I doubt we have seen the last of Torres and that would be a good thing.

So while I love sports and those who play them, my heroes are not the athletes on the field.  Rather, my sports heroes are those who write, talk, summarize, prognosticate, debate, pontificate or postulate about sports.

A great sportswriter molds a compelling story out of a simple and dispassionate game recap.

A knowledgeable play-by-play host, color commentator or sideline reporter adds flavor the way garlic livens up marinara sauce or cracked black pepper wakes up a Bloody Mary.

Mechelle Voepel is the unrivaled torchbearer for women’s basketball – college and professional.   She often writes from a deeply personal perspective making the reader all the richer for it.

Rebecca Lobo is both entertaining and enlightening as a TV sidekick on basketball broadcasts.

Nell Fortner, in between coaching gigs, brought such great enthusiasm to the studio. You couldn’t help but get excited.

Andrew Monaco has been ever so professional broadcasting Orlando Miracle games way back when and now serving in the same capacity for the San Antonio Silver Stars.

And I’ll just add a shout out to Brian Ormiston, now servicing as an Associate Director of Communications for UCF.  Several years ago, I was credentialed to cover UCF women’s basketball.  Most nights, I sat all alone on press row, just one of about 300 people in the entire gym (yes, that total includes both teams).

Occasionally a reporter from the UCF student newspaper, The Central Florida Future, would cover the game, but typically that kid would arrive late and chew his nails, showing more interest in his ragged cuticle than any action on the floor.

I remember that Brian would sometimes show up and just grab a seat along press row and watch the game.  One night he grabbed a seat right next to the Future reporter and they began to chat.  The reporter kid asked Brian, who at the time was AD Communications for Women’s Soccer and Track, how much longer he thought he would have to cover women’s sports.  The kid might well have asked how many Our Fathers and Hail Marys Brian had been assigned by Monsignor Bloviate.

Neither of those guys was talking to me. I was just close enough to effortlessly eavesdrop so I know Brian’s response wasn’t for show.  He cocked his head and peered at the kid and simply said, “Dude, it’s not women’s basketball.  It’s basketball.”

Brian, being the elder statesman (and paid professional), had spoken.  The kid was gently but appropriately chastened and that discussion ended.

Brian was and is right.  It’s just basketball.

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