Well call it, 2001: A Sports Odyssey. With a chill in the air, Christmas behind us, and Dubya (yikes) on the way, its time to think of more jovial fare. Ive got a list for St. Jock, a few dreams Id love to see made reality over the next year.
- Hoops harmony. Whatever that entails. I want to see a full, healthy Tiger basketball team, and see just what level such a squad might reach under Coach Cal. The conference schedule will determine how we remember the 2000-01 Tigers. Will the disappointments of Puerto Rico, Marcus Moodys jumping ship, or player suspensions linger? Or might Memphis reach the big dance against long odds? U of M basketball, not to mention its army of fans, needs the Madness.
- Pete! Come back, Pete! The Kroger St. Jude has gone two years without a top-ten player in the field. To be blunt, The Racquet Club deserves better than Magnus Larsson as champion. Where has Pete Sampras been the last half-decade? He hasnt so much as warmed up in Memphis since he won here in 1996. Say what you will about the new blood, the players on the rise who will be the faces of the game over the next decade. The most accomplished player in the games history has only a few more years to show us how tennis should be played. Heres hoping we get a lesson in February.
- Maniax mayhem. Im not a pro wrestling fan. Im cynical about upstart minor leagues, regardless of the sport. But Id love nothing more than for a national audience to see how rabid Memphis football fans can be. When NBC broadcasts our Ax across the country later this winter, lets hope the hype and cleavage-driven interests of the WWF dont overshadow this citys latest efforts to prove to someone, anyone, that Memphis is a football town. And dont complain about the cold. You could live in Green Bay.
- Encore, encore! How on earth do the Memphis Redbirds follow up their championship season of 2000? Better stadium? Cant be done. More competitive? Come on . . . they won their division by 13 games. Exciting players? If Lou Lucca and Stubby Clapp are back, well, who else do we need? Heres how the Redbirds can improve: continue to be the heart of the renaissance for not only downtown Memphis, but for an entire citys sports community. Memphis needs AutoZone Park like the Beatles needed John.
- Tigerrrrrrrrr! No sports body in town does a better job than the folks at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Tournament director Phil Cannon is a class act, and he rubs off on his event. Like it or not, though, there are two professional golf tours these days: the Tiger Woods tour, and the no-Tiger tour. The FESJC needs to hire whoever the Texas Rangers did in their negotiations with Alex Rodriguez. Send this person to Tigers house in Florida and convince this phenom that more good can come out of his playing Memphis Ñ just once Ñ than could be attained even with an appearance from Arnie or the Golden Bear. As the unofficial capital of the Mid-South, Tigers presence in Memphis would reach a legion of kids who, quite simply, need to be reached.