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Figure skating: Is bad publicity better than no publicity at all?

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Posted: Thursday, August 8, 2002 10:00 pm

Olympic scandals. Mobsters.

The sport of figure skating has received its fair share of bad publicity lately.

But hey, it's publicity.

Aside from Olympic years, how else is the sport going to drum up any interest?

I don't recall anyone (women included) in recent weeks - or my lifetime, to be more precise - saying they would kill to get their hands on a pair of tickets to the upcoming figure-skating competition.Scott Howell

Men prancing around in tights to sappy love ballads. Indentured preschool girls dancing around in tutus.

Forget about it.

Figure skating has to be more risque. It doesn't have a choice.

You can't alienate fans who weren't there to start with.

The sport needs its redneck who will do anything to win, even have the prima donnas she's competing against roughed up. It needs its villain, "The French Ice Queen." And it doesn't hurt to have a Russian mobster who's setting up the fix.

That's entertainment!

It gives figure skating a sense of adventure - and almost makes it a real sport.

That type of melodrama is a movie in the making, starring Robert De Niro as the taxi driver who tries to save the figure-skating superstar, played by Jodie Foster, from the menacing mobster, also played by Robert De Niro.

Now that's good publicity for the sport.

Speaking of publicity …

• NASCAR driver Tony Stewart doesn't like publicity - unless he wins.

The hot-headed Stewart has a history of dodging reporters after poor performances. But, just like on the track, he isn't always able to outmaneuver the fast-approaching press.

For example, he recently punched a photographer following a poor performance at the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis, attracting more of the publicity he doesn't want.

Ironically, and inadvertently, Stewart received some good publicity Thursday without even winning a race.

A few days after NASCAR fined him $10,000 for the embarrassing incident, Stewart's team sponsor levied a $50,000 penalty against the driver.

And how is this good publicity?

The money will go to the United Way of Central Indiana, Stewart's home state.

• Some people complain that tennis superstar Anna Kournikova gets publicity that she doesn't deserve because she's never won a professional tournament.

What's their point?

• Barry Bonds hitting his 73rd home run last season is worthy of a lifetime of publicity. However, the actual ball in question is not.

Yet it won't go away.

Nearly one year after the historic blast, two men continue to receive publicity for their legal battle over who is the rightful owner of the ball.

The solution is so simple.

Split the ball down the middle and give each man a half. Wait, the ball deserves better than that.

Split the men in half and send the ball to Cooperstown.

• No one wants to give up No. 600 to Bonds. Pitchers hate being associated with historical home runs.

But if you really want some bad publicity, don't pitch to him.

• Ted Williams, who never liked the limelight, is still getting unwanted publicity, and could for years, decades and centuries to come.

• I think I'll use this paragraph to get my son, Chase, some publicity. I'm sure some people are wondering what he did to deserve publicity.

If so, what's your point?

Scott Howell is the News-Sentinel's sports editor. He can be reached at (209) 369-7035; at 125 N. Church St., or via e-mail.


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