All-Star Weekend!

A few weeks ago I wrote about the state of the NBA here. This week I want to write specifically about the All-Star game. It has always been one of my favorite events. I can remember as a child recording the games and re-watching them a few times. I may be wrong, but I do not think the game is as competitive as it used to be. There is very little defense that is played. Even though that has changed it is still very entertaining to watch the best players in the World show off their talent. Even though the game is fun to watch, it is the rest of the weekend’s events that make All-Star weekend great. On Friday, the Celebrity game and Rising Stars game are played. On Saturday we will get to see a skills challenge, 3 pt contest, and the ever popular dunk contest. The game will follow on Sunday. The format is different because the teams were drafted and are no longer East vs. West.

The first event of the weekend is the Celebrity game. You can watch last year’s game here. Quavo was the MVP of the game last year and will be looking to repeat the accomplishment again this year. Some of the contestants will be the retired football player Steve Smith, performing artist JB Smoove, along with retired professionals Jay Williams and Ray Allen. The Rising Stars game will follow the celeb game. The format is Team USA vs. Team World. Both rosters are stacked with tons of young talent from across the globe. In looking at the rosters, I would like to think that Team USA has the edge, but nothing is a given in competition.

The first event on Saturday will be the Skills Challenge. It will feature plenty of talent with a couple of All-Stars and a few rookie of the month winners. Almost all of the players are young, except the veteran Mike Conley. Let’s hope the old guy can hold off the youngsters, it would be a win for all of us that are aging. The 3pt contest is the next event. This should be great to watch because we have the defending champion Devin Booker, retiring all time great player Dirk, and the Curry brothers. Here is a great video showing some of the all time great performances in the shootout. Hopefully this year’s event can produce a moment like this from Larry Legend! The final event of the evening is the slam dunk contest. The contest seemed to be losing steam over the years, but the contest in 2016 featuring Gordon and Lavine really brought it back to life. I really hope that the momentum carries forward. I would love to see the contest be as popular as it was when I was younger. The best contest was quite possibly this one, but there are plenty to choose from.

The all star game will take place on Sunday and the format is just a little different than years past. The game will feature Team LeBron vs Team Giannis. They were allowed to draft their teams based on getting the most votes. Obviously, the teams are loaded with talent. Picking a winner is almost impossible. I would imagine that no defense will be played until the 4th quarter and only if the game is tightly contested. Do not be surprised if the home town player, Kemba Walker, wins the MVP award.

Even though the players do not play as hard during the game and the format has changed, the game is still very entertaining. In my opinion, the game is only a small part of the all-star weekend. I believe that all of the other contests help make up a great weekend of entertainment. I hope you will have a chance to sit down with your family and friends and enjoy a little of the action.

—Victor Mandalawi

State of the NBA

This is usually a great time during the season to start paying attention to the game. Most teams have played around 50 games, so we have a pretty good idea if a team in contention or not. You are able to weed out the pretenders at this point. Also, the all-star game and trade deadline both fall within the next couple of weeks. Even the fans of teams that are in the tank have something to look forward to because there are potential stars emerging from the college game. I wanted to take a look a closer look at who the favorites for the championship may be. I also wanted to discuss any potential trades that could shake up the landscape of the league and what college players are being coveted by the teams in the lottery.

Let’s start with the teams that are in the tank! Those teams are the Bulls, Cavs, Knicks, and Suns. Those are the 4 teams that will probably end the season with the best shot at the number one pick. There are usually a few “can’t miss” prospects every year and this year is no different. The Duke Blue Devils have two on their team, Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett. ESPN offers a great look here at the top prospects. Many pundits are very high on Williamson because of his combination of size, strength, and athleticism. He would certainly help put fans in the seats.

A few days ago Anthony Davis created shockwaves throughout the league by saying he would not re-sign with the Pelicans. That will cause the Pelicans to trade him so they can recoup some assets before he departs for nothing. He is a top 5 talent in the game and every team in the league would love to have him. You would think he has no say in where he should end up but that is not the case. He can not veto trades, but he can say that he will not re-sign with any team that trades for him. That will cause teams to not waste assets hoping to land him. When this move happens, it will cause major dominoes to fall. Another massive deal that has already happened was the Porzingis trade. The Knicks unloaded a few players and gained a few future picks and some decent players. The main thing they gained was cap space with the thought of targeting Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in free agency. The deadline is over a week away, I am sure there will be a few more moves.

Who will win it all this year? Is it too early to make a selection? Anyone can make a prediction, but I personally do not think it will matter because the Warriors will win it all again. The Warriors have not played as well this year as they have in the past, but they are getting hot now and hold the best record in the Western Conference. They will end up with home court advantage and that should be enough to get them into the Finals. The Eastern Conference is not so clear cut in my mind. The Raptors, Sixers, Bucks, and Celtics all seem to have a legitimate shot at advancing to the finals. I think the Celtics have the most talent and they should advance. That would give us a Celtics and Warriors title matchup!

As mentioned previously, if you are fan of the NBA this is a great time to really start focusing. There has been one massive trade with the possibility of more to come. The All-Star game is around the corner and it will display the awesome talent in the league. The season is more than halfway over and teams will be looking to find their groove and start playing their best basketball heading into the playoffs. Good luck to the rest of the league but I believe the Warriors are the cream of the crop!

—Victor Mandalawi

2019 Resolutions

Every year as January begins people make resolutions for the coming year. I can only assume you have heard the term “New Year’s Resolutions”. A resolution can be anything you want to change in the coming year. You can make resolutions about your weight, health, quitting smoking, exercising, financial restraint, using your cellphone less when around people, and reading more. As you can see the amount of resolutions are endless. I want to discuss a few of the more popular resolutions that would rank near the top of the list every year. In my opinion they would be diet, exercise, and trying to quit smoking.

I want to start with arguably one of the most popular, smoking. According to the CDC, roughly 15% of adults smoke cigarettes. That number is the lowest since tracking began, smoking is still the leading cause of preventable disease in the country. The CDC claims that 68% of smokers want to quit. So if you made this resolution, you are not alone! There are plenty of ways to quit, selecting a method will depend on what you think will fit your needs most. You can start by setting goals to slowly eliminate cigarettes from your day. You can pinpoint your triggers. Try to eliminate the triggers from your life, thus eliminating the cigarette associated with the trigger. Another helpful way to quit smoking would be to replace the habit with something else. Instead of lighting up, pop a piece of gum or a mint. You can also try nicotine replacement. There are plenty of products available on the market to help you with this. You can get a patch, an inhaler, or an e-cigarette. You can also seek professional care. Reach out to your doctor for advice or possible medicine that could be available to assist you. Lastly, it is probably the most difficult, but you can go “cold turkey“.

Every January, gyms and fitness centers are at their busiest. This is because exercise is another wildly popular resolution. Historically, the month of January sees the most new membership signings. That is not a coincidence, it is specifically based on resolutions for the new year. Unfortunately, 80% of those new members stop coming by the second week of February. That is a pretty staggering number of people that make it only a month. I am not sure a month is a long enough opportunity for it to make a difference in your life. Stick it out a little longer if you want to see results!

Another extremely popular resolution is to lose weight through a diet. What will the popular diets of 2019 be? The trendiest seems to be the Keto diet. The keto diet requires a person to eat a very low carb diet. You will have to cut out sugars and bread. Doing this causes your body to burn stored fat for fuel. The process is called ketosis, thus the diet name. Another diet that is popular would be the Paleo diet. The diet is supposed to consist of items eaten by our ancient ancestors from the Paleolithic era. Would we be able to eat a Mammoth? Intermittent fasting is another popular diet trend. The basics of the diet call for you to eat very light for 2-3 days a week and the other days you are allowed to eat whatever you want. The oldest and truest diet is to just eat in moderation. Feel free to eat whatever you want, just watch your portions!

I think resolutions are great ideas. They are the same thing as setting goals. In my opinion, setting short term and long term goals can be very helpful on the road to success. No matter what your resolution is, you have to really want to achieve the goal or you may not. If you are dieting and do not like meat, it probably would not be a great idea to do a keto or paleo diet. On the other hand, if you are a big meat eater those diets might actually work for you. In the end, you need to set attainable goals that fit your lifestyle. Did you have any resolutions this year? If so, I wish all the best on your road!

—Victor Mandalawi

2018 In Review

Just in case you have been living in a cave or jungle without a calendar, this is a reminder that 2018 is officially over. Usually, a year seems to pass by in the blink of an eye. However, when you actually sit down and take a look at the events of the year it can really sharpen your focus. Within the United States alone there are countless news stories and events that have shaped the year. Your location within our country will most likely change your views and memories of news events. I wanted to take a look at some of the biggest weather events and sports stories that have shaped our year.

Every year and season the weather plays a huge factor on our lives. Our country has very diverse weather conditions and disasters seem to strike every year. If you live in the Northeast you most likely remember the barrage of Nor’easters throughout late winter. If you live in California you may remember the record setting heat and drought throughout the year. You would also remember the wildfires that devastated life and property. How could anyone not remember the absolute devastation caused by Hurricane Florence? If you lived anywhere in the southeast it is very likely you or someone you know was effected by this event. The hurricane itself was terrible, but the inland flooding was just as catastrophic. Hurricane Micheal was another devastating event for the southeast and more specifically the Florida Panhandle. Michael was very powerful and it set many records. Hurricanes and records being associated is not a good thing!

In the world of sports you can bet there were plenty of newsworthy events and not all of them are good. The Eagles won the Super Bowl and Alabama won the National Championship in football. In college basketball Villanova won the men’s title and Notre Dame won the women’s title in thrilling fashion. The Warriors won the NBA finals for the 3rd time in 4 years. The Boston Red Sox won the World Series and the world was introduced to Big Al in the Little League World Series. Did you know he hits dingers? The Washington Capitals were able to break through and finally win the Stanley Cup. Early in the year the 2018 Winter Olympics took place in South Korea. Tiger Woods not only returned to golf, but he returned to golf in a big way. He won the Tour Championship and his walk down the 18th fairway was surreal to say the least. In a despicable story, the sports world was rocked with the Larry Nassar scandal. It has altered many lives to date and will continue to for some time. Hopefully, changes can be made so this can’t happen again.

I discussed two topics and barely grazed over them at that. However, just mentioning those sports and weather stories brought back some memories from throughout the year. You begin to remember more stories that have occurred throughout the year and you realize that 365 days can sure pack a punch. It seems to be a blur, but when you really dig in the volume appears. Hopefully you had a great 2018 and I can only wish that 2019 will be even better!

Holiday Movies

Every year as the Holidays approach, television stations flood the air with Holiday themed programming.  It could be a risky decision as not everyone wants to watch Holiday shows for a month straight.  However, I think there are plenty of people that do want to watch this type of programming.  For many, it is a great way to spend time with family and friends.  It can also help people get into the “Holiday Spirit”.  Many movies have been made that are Holiday themed. I wanted to take a look at some of the most popular movies from over the years. Which movies are considered the best Holiday Movies? Does the movie need to have a Holiday scene? Does it need to be about presents?  I think this can be a very vague topic because the Holidays could have such a drastically different meaning for people.  Is Die Hard a Christmas movie? Some would say it is because the events of the movie fall during a work Christmas party.  I am going to take a look at the more traditional types of movies that focus on a Holiday theme.

My personal favorite types of Christmas movies are real similar.  I would imagine it is because of my age and what seemed to be shown when I was an impressionable child.  I am very fond of Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  As you can see I am into the traditional animated films that many other people enjoy.  Just because I like them does not make them the best.  

The 1940’s has a very large amount of classic Christmas themed movies that have withstood the test of time. When you look at lists of the greatest  Christmas movies of all time like this one and this one they are flooded with movies from the 40’s.  The top 5 movies of all time are from the 40’s according to Rotten Tomatoes.  I am sure there is a reason for this, but I am not a film historian and it is not that important to me to figure out why.  I can say that I have seen Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life.  Both of these are very fine films and I usually catch pieces of each every year around this time.  

Here are a few more films that are extremely popular this time of year.  A Christmas Story, Home Alone, Elf, and The Santa Clause seem to dominate the landscape and for good reason.  They are good, clean, family friendly movies that appeal to a wide audience.  You can not forget about The Polar Express.  That movie has gone on to have great success in more areas than one.  Every year small railroads around the country use The Polar Express as a theme.  It has become quite popular and in many cases you have to buy your seats months in advance.  Here is one of the places for the themed ride.  As you can see they have turned the movie into a marketing machine by selling all kinds of merchandise based around the movie.

Another group of movies that have quite the following are Christmas comedies.  My personal favorites are Scrooged, Bad Santa, and Christmas Vacation.  These movies are not necessarily family oriented because of adult material throughout.  However, when watching them as an adult, they are much funnier than I previously thought upon my initial viewing.  I think that everyone has different taste in movies.  I also think that the selection of Holiday movies is so great that people can find whatever they are into.  The best part about watching the movies is the company you are watching them with. Cherish your family and friends and I hope you have a Happy Holidays! 

Browns Win!

Normally, I would not really get too worked up over a football game in week three.  Especially when the winning team is not your favorite team.  However, the losing football team is my favorite so I was watching the game closely.  I wanted to briefly touch on the game from the Jets side, but mainly wanted to discuss the Browns getting a win for the first time in a long time.  We can also talk about the Browns having a rookie quarterback that came in and led them to a win. What does the future hold for these two teams?

The Jets won their first game of the year in convincing style, they lost their second game in a tough battle, and they just lost their third game to the Browns.  In fairness, this was a tough game for the Jets.  They were expected to travel into a hostile environment on a short week and win with a rookie quarterback.  That was a task that proved to be too tough for Sam Darnold!  Sam Darnold seems to be the type of quarterback that will end up making a difference for his team.  The question is, when will the Jets be good again?  Let’s check back in a few years.

As mentioned before, the Browns got their first victory in 635 days last night.  That’s right, 635 days!  That is a long time between wins, but the Browns fanbase was able to make up for the lack of wins with a great celebration.  Bud Light had a genius promotion by placing locked refrigerators around the city.  The premise was that when the Browns finally got a win, the refrigerators would be opened and the fans would get a free beer.

The Browns started the season by taking the Steelers into overtime and eventually tying them in a tough game.  In the second game at New Orleans, the Browns were in control until very late when Drew Brees led the Saints to a late win.  The Browns had plenty of chances to win, but suffered a few special teams issues that eventually cost them the game.  The Browns were thoroughly outplayed in the first half of the game against the Jets.  However, their starting QB, Tyrod Taylor was pulled with a concussion.  This meant that their number 1 pick and Heisman Trophy winner, Baker Mayfield, was called into duty.  He led the Browns right down the field for a field goal.  Things continued to be bright for Mayfield as he led the Browns on 3 more scoring drives with the final one around the 2 minute mark being enough to win the game.  It looks like Mayfield will end up being named the starter next week.  I think Mayfield has enough talent to stay on the field the rest of the season and that should help the Browns get a few more wins this season.

Baker Mayfield seems to be a real talent and he may end up leading the Browns out of the gutter.  However, I believe this year’s version of the Browns is different.  They have plenty more talent and certainly seem to be headed in the right direction.  They would have earned a couple of wins this year even without Mayfield at QB.  They could be sitting at 3-0 if they would have made a few kicks in other games.  Is it out of the question that the Browns end up in the playoffs this year?  Can you imagine that story, winless last year and in the playoffs the next?  I know I will be watching, how about you?

—Victor Mandalawi

 

 

The LeBron Saga Continues!

There is no denying LeBron James is on the list of greatest basketball players of all time.  Where he is on the list is debatable.  He may end up as the greatest of all time and he may just enter the top ten and that will have to be enough.  His statistics will end up placing him near the top of the argument, but sometimes people use winning as part of the argument. This article has him listed as the 2nd best and his career is not over.  What if people talk more about LeBron leaving his team for another so frequently?  Would it hurt his legacy any?  Let’s take a look at what might be in store for LeBron next stint.

Unless you are living in a cave, you most likely know that LeBron is now a member of the storied Los Angeles Lakers.  What does that mean to the other teams in the NBA?  The team most effected would be the Cavs.  Here is a nice article talking about a plan B for the Cavs.  The oddsmakers changes were very dramatic.  Clearly, they do not think much of the team without LeBron and that makes sense.  However, I do not think they will be that bad.  I think they will struggle at first and then they will find a groove and end up being decent with a shot of making the playoffs.

What does LeBron being a Laker mean?  The first thing is will he be a bigger presence for the franchise than the legend, Magic Johnson?  Will LeBron try to run the team as he reportedly did in Cleveland?  I do not see LeBron being able to bully Magic.  Will he be able to push around Luke Walton, his young coach?  I do not think it will be the same as Cleveland and Miami, but I would not be shocked if that is what happened.  First, let’s mention that the Lakers are now a playoff team with the arrival of James.  Is the team good enough to compete for a title? I do not think so.  The supporting cast is actually pretty decent, but they are not named Durant, Curry, Thompson, Cousins, and Green.  The Lakers did sign a few decent players to one year deals.  I think they will be competitive this year, but they are also building for the future.  They will have a ton of cap room for players next summer(Leonard?) and their young players will have another year of seasoning under their belts.  There are plenty of questions this move brings and here is a nice article covering it.

Can LeBron end up as an all time Laker great?  I do not see it being possible because he only has 3-5 years left in the tank.  If he managed to win a couple of titles in that span it is possible, but I do not think that will happen because of the gauntlet known as the Western Conference. The bigger thing to me is I wonder if LeBron is tarnishing his legacy by moving around so many times?  I personally think he is.  He will end up in LA for 4 years, Miami for 4 years, and will end up with 11 seasons as a Cav.  I typically see the all time greats and also associate them with their team.  Clearly, LeBron will always be a Cav in the eyes of most, but it does hurt him a little.

LeBron could end up being the greatest of all time and he certainly is in the discussion.  He has won plenty of games and has been in countless Finals Series.  He will end up leaving a massive legacy but how will he be viewed?  He may be viewed as a trailblazer, changing teams is well within his right as a free agent.  Many players fought for those rights and he is exercising the option to do so.  He may also be viewed as a mercenary of sorts.  Changing teams when it is best for him.  I am not sure the story is complete as he has a few more great years left in the tank and I can’t wait to see what is in store for him in LA!

—Victor Mandalawi

 

 

NFL News

The NFL always seems to be in the forefront.  However, being in the news this week and next will almost certainly be true.  Only the NFL is able to make a schedule release into an event.  The league wide schedule was released last night and it was news worthy.  Teams do not even have their teams set for next year, yet somehow fans and experts somehow have already made predictions on next year’s record.  I would think they should hold off a little, at least wait until after the draft next week.  The draft starts next Thursday and will take place Friday and Saturday as well.  The draft is exciting because it gives fans a chance to see the building blocks of the team they root for.  Let’s take a look at the schedule and how the first round of the draft is shaping up.

Here is a look at the schedule for the 2018 season.  The season should start with a bang as the defending Super Bowl Champs will be on Thursday Night Football to kick off the season.  The Sunday night game will be an old time rivalry game with the Bears and Packers.  One of the Monday night games will have plenty of West Coast meaning with the Raiders vs. Rams.  Here is an article that covers winner and losers of the schedule.  The article is not just talking about teams being winners and losers, but also networks and fans.

As mentioned before, it is really difficult to predict a win total for the teams because the teams are not even set.  That being said, someone has to do it and here is a nice article that offers up a little analysis and prediction for your favorite team.  I really do not see any predictions that would “rock the boat” which makes sense for the reasons I have already mentioned.  I would like to think that these predictions could all change in a little over one week when the draft is complete.

The first round of the draft will take place in a little over 6 days.  The draft is always big news and rightfully so.  If a team is successful with their picks it can change the future of the franchise.  On the other hand, if your team misses on their draft picks it can really set a franchise back.  My favorite thing to see is when fans boo the selection their respective teams.  Like the fan knows better than the scouts and GM’s!  The first round is shaping up to be all about the quarterback.  I have seen some predictions that 4 qb’s could be selected in the first 6 picks.  Look for Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen to be taken 1 and 2.  It would not be surprising if something else happened since these NFL teams keep their intentions very quiet.

The NFL is great at making news and staying in the forefront year round.  They have been able to turn the schedule release, draft, and countless other items into noteworthy coverage.  No other sports have the same reaction to a schedule release.  The NFL draft is also the most popular draft for fans to follow.  There always seems to be great story lines to follow and this year is no different. The story of Shaq Griffin is outstanding and it should offer hope to anyone that suffers from a disability.  I will be watching the draft and hopefully I am not one of the knuckleheads that is booing my team!

–Victor Mandalawi

 

Pitchers and Catchers!

To many people, the phrase “pitchers and catchers report” is a great thing.  It means that MLB pitchers and catchers are to report to Spring Training for their respective teams.  According to this list, every team has uttered this phrase! For me, the term means more than just pitchers and catchers reporting.  It also means that the positional players will be right behind.  After a few short weeks, spring training games will start being played.  Of course, ultimately, it means the MLB season will begin in 6 weeks or so.  It also means that anyone living in a colder climate is getting close to spring and warmer weather!  Let’s take a look at what has happened in the off season and what the outlook is for the season.  Is it too early to predict the World Series champ?

The MLB off season is typically referred to as the “hot stove”.  The name is based on the visual image of baseball fans gathering around a stove to warm themselves during the colder winter months. I am sure there are other explanations as well.  The hot stove should be renamed the luke warm stove this year.  The offseason has been somewhat uneventful.  Many of the premier free agents are still unsigned.  This is a trend in MLB that has been happening in recent years.  I am sure it is very unnerving for the players to be this close to the season and not know what team they will be on.  It also has to be a rough way for teams to plan their season.  I would have thought that a team budget for the season would be set this close to the season.  Clearly, it is the decision of the teams to do this but some would say this is the way to combat the escalating free agent contracts the players have been earning.

Here are a few premier free agents that have not signed JD Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Jake Arrieta.  Here is a nice tracker from MLB, it will help you see who has changed placed via free agency and who might still be available. There have been a few major deals to take place so far.  The Cubs have signed Yu Darvish to a long term deal.  The Angels were able to convince Japanese phenom, Shohei Ohtani, to sign with them and the Yankees pulled off a major trade with the Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton.  Those deals will certainly strengthen their respective teams.

Currently, Vegas odds have the Yankees as the favorite to win the World Series.  They are followed closely by the Indians, Astros, Dodgers, Cubs, and Nationals.  Vegas does not always pick the best team because they have to change odds based on the number of bets coming in on a team.  However, they are really good at what they do and it is a safe bet that most of these teams will be in the mix.  Baseball always has a team that plays well above expectations, who could that darkhorse be this year?

As of this moment I am not worried about the winner of the 2018 World Series.  I can save that concern for a later date.  Afterall, there are still quite a few big time players still available on the market.  Signing a player like that can really alter the landscape.  I am just thrilled to hear the phrase “pitchers and catchers” reporting.  It symbolizes a fresh start for baseball and gives you the feeling that Spring is just around the corner!

—Victor Mandalawi

 

 

Pyeongchang 2018!

You may be asking yourself what is Pyeongchang 2018?  Pyeongchang, South Korea is the location of the Winter Olympics.  The 23rd Winter Olympic Games will begin on February 9th and will conclude on February 25th.  I am more of a fan of the Summer Games, but I will certainly be watching the Winter Games.  I usually speak of the drama surrounding sports and I honestly can not think of more potential drama than an Olympic Games.  Of course you have the built-in drama of competition, you have all of the stories of perseverance, and this year we will have Political drama. Let’s take a look at what is in store for us!

On the first day of the Olympics, we will be treated to ski jumping and curling.  In total there are 15 sports including ice hockey, luge, alpine skiing, and many more.  In the 15 sports there will be a total of 102 events that a medal can be won.  There will be 4 new disciplines in sports that already exist.  One of them is called big air snowboarding, it sounds like it will be awesome!  A difference on the other side will be that Ice Hockey will not have players from the NHL involved for the first time in 20 years.  That will clearly effect the quality of play on the ice, but there will certainly be games that are down to the wire and exciting.

At every Olympics there are stories of courage and perseverance.  I can guarantee these games will be no different.  Think back to the 2016 Olympic games in Brazil.  Controversy presented itself in many ways.  The ongoing zika virus scare, the outdoor water sports location was heavily polluted, and of course there were plenty of bribes and money laundering issues.  These games will be different in certain ways and I am sure they will be the same in certain ways.  I would think corruption is standard throughout the process.  I would love for the controversies to go away and have the athletes create all of the memories produced by these games.

Since the games are in South Korea this year, we certainly can not overlook the fact that our President has been in a war of words with the North Korean Dictator.  That alone has a chance of upstaging the games and I hope that does not happen.  There are two political stories that are worth looking at.  First, it has been determined that the Russian team will not be allowed to compete because of a major doping conspiracy. Clearly, that is a major disappointment for the clean athletes.  The IOC has determined that clean athletes can participate, but they will do so under the blanket of the IOC.  The Russian flag will not be displayed and if an athlete wins an event they will not play their anthem.  They will also not be listed in the record books as having won a medal.  That is a stern punishment, but probably a necessary one.  The games need to be clean!  These games are also noteworthy because North Korean athletes will cross the demilitarized zone and compete in the games.  They will also join forces with South Korea in certain events.  This will mean they are marching under a unified flag.

As always, the Olympics will be must watch television for me.  Being in the digital age and halfway across the World will make it hard for NBC to televise the events with any type of secrecy on the event outcomes.  The last few Olympics have been that way, but it has not slowed my viewing.  The tension and drama caused by sport is always powerful.  This year will not be different.  We will also be able to key in on the partnership of the two Korean nations.  When all of this takes place in a 2 week span, it will certainly cause plenty of excitement and I will be watching.  How about you?

—Victor Mandalawi