So now that the Royal Wedding is over, what's the most desired ticket in the world? Courtside at the NBA Finals? The Super Bowl in New York City? The World Cup final in Rio?

How about none of the above?

The BBC reports that one million people applied to see an event that has nothing to do with Tom Brady or LeBron James or Lionel Messi.

And the event will last less than 10 seconds.

We're talking about the men's 100-meter final in London next August. The sprint is always the marquee event of the Summer Olympics, but this is likely the most anticipated Olympic event ever, because of one man.

Every sports fan in the world, let alone the million who applied for a seat at the Olympic Stadium next year, wants to watch Usain Bolt try to beat his unfathomable world record Olympic time of 9.69 seconds, set at the 2008 Games in Beijing.

To give you some perspective, 1.6 million people applied for tickets to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but that was for a weeks-long tournament. This is for one race.

The stadium seats 80,000, so chances are not great, but if Bolt lowers his mark, few will complain about shelling out 725 pounds (about $1,000) to see it.

Bolt will be 25 when he takes his place in the starting blocks next year -- assuming he stays healthy and qualifies, of course -- putting him right in the prime of his sprinting life. So although he'll be competing against seven other runners, he'll really be competing against the limits of human capacity -- and himself.

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His Beijing performance was met with both awe -- he beat the second place finisher by a whopping 0.2 seconds -- and wonder. Bolt slowed down to showboat at the end of the race, and had a shoelace untied, so speculation immediately began as to how fast he could really run. Some calculated close to 9.5 seconds, which is preposterous in a world where a sub-9.8 time is still superb. (Maurice Greene set a World Record with a 9.79 time in 1999.)

So almost as soon as Bolt crossed the finish line in Beijing, the countdown to London 2012 began. While most assume Michael Phelps has reached his potential as an Olympian, Bolt's ceiling is very much up for debate. Many think the 2012 Games will bring the answer. And many think Bolt will hit a generational best -- a mark that will not be matched for decades, despite the steady progression of lower times over the course of running history.

Bolt made London even more interesting in 2009 by lowering his world record to 9.58 seconds in Berlin. At the end of that event, the mayor of that city presented the sprinter with a chunk of the Berlin Wall that weighed nearly three tons.

But that heavy piece of history is not nearly as popular these days as the little piece of paper that will allow a view of the fastest human ever.

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Since beer worked so well as an enticement last year, the Preakness is breaking out the hard bodies.

Before the horses compete Saturday in the 136th running of the Preakness Stakes, beach volleyball will be the main attraction on the Pimlico infield.

This is the Preakness' latest stab at boosting attendance, particularly among the always coveted young male demographic, since it banned fans from bringing their own alcohol to the track after the 2008 race. In 2009, attendance dropped by 35,000, which led to last year's introduction of unlimited beer for $20. That was enough to post an increase of 18,000, and the hope is that the lure of world-class volleyballers and their glistening physiques can push the figures closer to the pre-ban levels.

(Yes, there is a men's event, but the press release did not feature any photos of male players showing off their tans next to the horses.)

So what's in it for the volleyball players, aside from the honor (or at least the distinction) of having played at what some locals call The People's Party? Publicity, pure and simple.

The National Volleyball League is the newest version of the pro beach volleyball tour. The AVP shut down last summer after running out of money, although it plans to relaunch. The Preakness is the first of six tournaments for the NVL this year, and a splashy debut could help generate the buzz it needs.

The NVL will not have marquee attractions such as Olympic stars Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, which makes it a tougher sell to the casual fan. Its remaining events are scheduled for Miami, Malibu, Virginia Beach, Aspen, Colo., and Long Beach, Calif.

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Ultimately this is case where the Preakness and the NVL are hoping that 1+1=3. Gotta love the creativity of capitalism. The ownership of the Pimlico track has survived Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings and is focused on reaching a new generation of fans that doesn't quite buy into the tradition of the sport.

That's why the other new wrinkle this year aside from volleyball is the introduction of a mascot named Kegasus. Like a figure from Greek mythology, Kegasus is half-man, half-horse, but there's no question that his beer belly is distinctly human.




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So Dwight Howard has blamed the Orlando Sentinel for shooing him out the door and toward Los Angeles. "Same thing u guys did with Shaq," he tweeted Tuesday.

How silly.

First of all, the idea that the Orlando Sentinel is responsible for Shaquille O'Neal's departure is pure folly, as you can see in this 1992 article from (wait for it) the Orlando Sentinel:

"LSU junior Shaquille O'Neal, at 7 feet 1 arguably the best college center ever, announced he was turning pro Friday -- and he said he wants to play for the Los Angeles Lakers."

Howard can't be blamed for not reading the Sentinel in 1992, when he was six years old, but perhaps he should have read the paper one day before his tweet, when Brian Schmitz wrote the Magic "need to get him some relief from the bench."

The fact is, the Sentinel could not be more pro-Dwight if it incorporated the Magic's colors and logo into its own, which the paper did last year during the playoffs.

Maybe Dwight missed that too. But he had another chance Wednesday, as on the front page (now back to black), the Sentinel's lead columnist, Mike Bianchi, asked for Amway Arena to be renamed "The Dwight House." (They should really call it "The Bedroom," because that's where the Magic happens.)

This is the same columnist who instructed the town to grow playoff beards to support the team. And the mayor of Orlando, Buddy Dyer, actually did it.

Well, it's not like the Sentinel built a fan page for the franchise center at pleasestaydwight.com.

Oh wait, it did.

Blaming the media is an old trick, but often it has merit. Not this time. Blaming the Orlando Sentinel for pushing Dwight Howard out of town is like blaming dorm food for dropping out of college.

Dwight Howard wants to be the next LeBron James. He wants the drama of "The Decision." He wants the YMCA backdrop, the Jim Gray treatment, the ESPN special. He wants to be wanted even more than he's wanted by Orlando fans, which is a lot.

The Orlando Sentinel ran a poll a couple of years ago: Who is your favorite athlete? Dwight Howard or Tim Tebow?

Improbably, the contest ended in a virtual tie. That means Dwight Howard is as popular in Orlando as the most popular human being in Florida history. Tim Tebow is probably just as popular as the Special Forces agent who killed Osama bin Laden -- though surely most Floridians think Tebow was the Special Forces agent who killed Osama bin Laden. (Prove it wasn’t him! Prove it!)

Why can't Howard just say he loves Orlando but he wants to be courted?

Maybe it's because he realizes Orlando is the next Cleveland-in-waiting, doomed to have a palatial building and no centerpiece. Maybe it's because he feels guilty that Orlando is insanely generous to him in every way, willing to pay Rashard Lewis $30 billion (roughly) to give its Batman a Robin. Maybe it's hard for Dwight to say there might be no amount of money or love that can win him over.

You can't blame Howard for whatever choice he makes. But you can't blame a newspaper for whatever choice he makes.

They report. He decides.

Eric Adelson can be reached at adelson@yahoo-inc.com. His wife is a former employee of the Orlando Sentinel.

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As Los Angeles Laker center Andrew Bynum made his post-ejection departure Sunday against the Dallas Mavericks, he removed his jersey as though he had just floored Mike Tyson in his prime. In actuality, he had just clothes-lined the Mayor of Munchkinland, also known as Dallas Mavericks backup point guard J.J. Berea. If Dorothy were still alive, she'd have been pissed.

Mavs fans were outraged, Lakers fans embarrassed. Even all-time cheap shot artist Kevin McHale had to be cringing. Okay, maybe not. McHale was a punk the caliber of former Piston Bill Laimbeer (still can't believe Laimbeer is Kurt Rambis's assistant in Minnesota -- I won't make an unfair analogy like the late bin Laden raking George Bush's yard, but you get it).

Bynum's lack of a sincere apology is equally bad behavior. These aren't the 1980's, and taking out frustrations on a guy who weighs less than Bynum's shoes is unacceptable.

Unfortunately, this is all agent David Lee's fault. Stay with me here.

For those of you who aren't familiar, Lee is a sports agent, who happens to represent Bynum, and former Laker Trevor Ariza.

In the summer of 2009, after the Lakers disposed of Orlando to win the title, the team wanted Ariza back for approximately $5.6 million to $6 million for the first year, with increases over the term of the contract, probably 5 years. Lee's asking price as negotiations kicked off was closer to $9 million. You know the outcome. Dr. Jerry Buss was dining with Ron Artest the next day, and when Lee wouldn't come down below $7 million, the agreement had been reached. Artest would be a Laker, and eventually, Ariza would sign a deal with the Houston Rockets that he basically could have had to stay in his hometown Los Angeles.

We know Artest won a citizenship award this season, and what he did off the court was truly a turnaround from his Indiana days. He's also improved his on-court demeanor. But Artest couldn't stand being thought of as a good citizen for long. He started this by hooking Berea's face at the end of Game 2 in Los Angeles. The league suspended Artest for crucial Game 3, and the Lakers missed his intensity in the fourth quarter.

Lamar Odom grew up with RonRon, and you have to be believe was somewhat influenced by Artest's actions when he gave Dirk Nowitzki the forearm shiver late in Game 4. Odom was ejected and later said he was embarrassed by his actions.

Bynum is actually a smart kid, but as are most young NBA players, easily influenced by the older players on the roster. Once Artest begat Odom, Bynum felt it was okay. Compounding his bad judgement, Bynum failed to apologize. Expect the league to announce that Bynum will miss up to five games to start 2011-12 season, when and if it does start. Remember, Bynum was suspended for two games late in the regular season for a similar take-down on Minnesota's Michael Beasley, so it has to be more than two games.

The only way Bynum's suspension will be fewer than five? Simple.

Bynum needs to stand up and sincerely take responsibility. He needs to look into a camera and tell the NBA world he is truly sorry. He needs to tell Berea that he'll buy lollipops for all the munchkins. He needs to apologize to Mav fans and tell them it was out of frustration, that they kicked the Lakers' butts, and that he will be rooting for them to win it all now.

Bynum also needs to apologize to Laker fans, to Magic Johnson, Kareem, Dr. Buss, Jerry West and especially Kurt Rambis. It's one thing to be physical. It's another to be cheap. That's not the Laker way.

Bottom line, a good agent tells his player to apologize immediately. This is where Lee comes in, and it hasn't happened as of Monday night, more than 24 hours later. There's too much on the line these days, especially with rumors of Dwight Howard seeking a trade to the Lakers.

With each day that rips off the calendar (sorry, nobody has a calendar on their desk anymore), Bynum's reputation becomes more sullied. Endorsement opportunities lessen. And the Laker organization looks worse.

I'm sure the Lakers aren't happy with the way he's handled this, and don't be surprised if the next shove is from Mitch Kupchak, Bynum being pushed all the way to Orlando.

-- Rick Schwartz is a sports broadcaster and content executive. Most recently Schwartz has hosted Fantasy Football Live for Yahoo!, and produces the Bobby Jones golf programming that airs on The Golf Channel, among others.

Photo by Associated Press

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We've all wanted to tell a jogger to put his shirt back on, but what happened recently in suburban Boston is a little different.

Westwood High track coach Tom Davis was fired last week because one of his runners decided to whip off a shirt during training on a 75-degree day. This wasn't a girl, by the way. It was a boy.

And the Westwood High athletic director, Karl Fogel, was so irate about it that Davis thought he was going to lay him out.

"I fully 100 percent was expecting to be swung at," the coach told NECN TV.

That wasn't the end of it. Davis was let go on the spot, in front of his team, and eventually escorted off school property.

"The kids on my team, it was terrible," Davis told the TV station. "Their faces, just pure disgust, pure fear."

The team was doing quite well this year under the second-year coach: one of the relay teams went to nationals less than two months ago and the outdoor team started off 5-0 this spring. But there was an undercurrent of tension at the school as Fogel told Davis that some members of the girls team felt uncomfortable when the boys ran without shirts. Davis even warned his team about possible punishment for not wearing a shirt.

Then, a week ago Friday, the situation boiled over, with Fogel going chest to chest with the coach, according to the Boston Globe.

"I can assure you that [the] decision to relieve Mr. Davis of his duties was not the result of a single incident," said Westwood schools superintendant John Antonucci in a statement, "but rather the regrettable outcome of an ongoing discussion."

Now that ongoing discussion has ricocheted all over the community. Davis said he was never given an official reason for his firing, and he is seeking legal counsel.

The Westwood team lost its first meet without Davis on Monday. He was replaced by the school's throwing coach.

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So much of horse racing's wonder lies in its narration. To read William Nack in Sports Illustrated or Laura Hillenbrand in Seabiscuit is to feel the thunder of the thoroughbreds. To hear Dave Johnson yell "And DOWN the stretch they come!" is to be transported right to the rail.

One of the sport's all-time best narrators is Tom Durkin, who has called Triple Crown races for NBC for a decade and has called hundreds more races all over the country since the 1970s. He was trained, appropriately, in drama, which he studied at St. Norbert College in Wisconsin. Durkin understands drama as well as any sportscaster, as his voice builds with every gallop toward the wire.

But now it seems the drama is too much for Durkin, who is retiring from the Triple Crown because of stress. All the heart-pounding excitement he brought to millions has come at his own heart's expense.

"I'm a classic example of (being stressed out)," Durkin recently told The Blood-Horse magazine. "Genetically I'm built that way. It's like for three months before the Triple Crown races you wake up in the morning nervous and you go to bed nervous. It's as though you're constantly on six cups of double espresso. I feel very disappointed, but sometimes you just have to do the right thing."

Durkin is 60, and he will keep calling races in New York, at places like Belmont and Saratoga. But he will no longer be the lone voice in so many living rooms which buzz with chatter on Saturdays in May until the lock of the starting gate and the momentary silence of anticipation.

"I call 105 graded stakes races every year," Durkin told The Blood-Horse. "That's a pretty good workload and I enjoy it, yet I don't feel like it's the bottom of the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series and the bases are loaded and the count's 3-2 and Roger Clemens is about to throw me a 96 mph fastball. It's really not so much just Derby Day and that race. It's more a feeling that stays with you and you’re sleeping two hours a night. At this point in life, you start thinking a little differently."

We're fortunate that Tom Durkin's voice has been in our heads for years, capturing the very essence of speed. But perhaps he's fortunate that the voice in his head has told him to slow down.

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Let's get one non-basketball item out of the way first. Dodgers owner Frank McCourt did not call the Lakers and ask if he could take the half-court shot to win approximately $250,000 after the third quarter Wednesday night. He called to see if he could do it during Game 5 next week, when the jackpot rises by another five grand.

Now, on to more serious matters. The Kobe era is over. The Lakers have as much chance of winning this series as the Hornets do. Where do we begin? How about at the end?

J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award winner Ron Artest's facial hook on J.J. Berea was idiotic, but he did it because Derek Fisher refused to trip Berea with his cane. "Laker guards" has become an oxymoron. Berea looked like someone trying to get in the door of Target at 5 a.m. for a post-Thanksgiving Day sale. Nothing was going to stop him. The difference? Berea only had to get around one person Wednesday night. A slow-roasted rotisserie chicken rotates faster than this Laker defense.

But on the whole, this Laker roster is entirely fried.

Before people begin to skewer Mitch Kupchak again, he deserves a ton of credit. He overcame a miserable situation after Phil Jackson and Shaquille O'Neal departed in 2004 and the roster was in decline. He eventually pulled off the Pau Gasol trade, re-signed Fisher and brought in Trevor Ariza. When Ariza's agent demanded $9 million per year on a new deal in July of 2009 (then $8 million, then $7 million before it was too late), Mitch signed Artest, who will live in Laker lore no matter what happens from here on out. Artest hit the winning shot against Phoenix in Game 5 last year and more importantly, the trey that iced the series against the Celtics. Kupchak only wanted to sign Artest for three years, but his hand was forced to do a five-year deal by owner Jerry Buss' desire to have Artest in purple and gold.

The Gasol trade was a boon that bore two titles, but suddenly Pau looks like Dirk Nowitzki's game day ball shagger. Pau entirely gave up on one of Nowitzki's second-half baskets Wednesday night, walking toward Dirk, or maybe lightly shuffling. Shockingly to some, Gasol was booed at Staples Center more than once during Game 2. It was unfair for missing a free throw, and generally it's wholly unwarranted if a guy who's helped you win two championships is just in a slump. But clearly fans were booing Pau's seeming lack of effort and infrequent willingness to take the ball at Nowitzki. Everyone knows bin Laden's wives play better defense than Dirk.

One huge glaring weakness of this Laker assemblage of talent has been Kupchak's inability to fill the backcourt void, and he's been forced to subtract from a guard rotation already lacking speed and agility. Buss instructed Kupchak to cut payroll, thus the departure of Sasha Vujacic earlier this season. The transaction saved Buss some money but cost the team an outside stroke and an occasionally aggressive backcourt defender. Sasha may have only played 5-10 minutes and isn't a point guard, but Steve Blake looks like he'd be overmatched on Venice Beach right now. Blake couldn't puncture the Maverick defense with an assault rifle.

The triangle offense yields open shots and focuses on cutters to the rim. But even the triangle requires a guard that can occasionally penetrate the lane and dish. Without that in this series, Gasol and Bynum aren't getting any easy hoops.

On the other side of the court, good defense begets some easy hoops, and Laker fast break points are now similar to Dodger payroll checks- when they finally come, people get really, really excited. That tells you the Lakers aren't playing much defense.

Last summer's signings of Matt Barnes and Blake looked good at the time. Reserve Shannon Brown began this season looking like the most improved player in the league. Ten months later, Barnes, Blake and Brown now look like the Bumble B's. Fans wonder why Brown can't stop the league's quicker guards, but Brown is fast only in a straight line. He is not laterally quick, and can't stay in front of anyone with a crossover, or even a combover. And speaking of hair, can someone take Barnes to the nearest Floyd's and shave that ridiculous fro-hawk? He looks even worse than his game, and that's an accomplishment right now. Put Barnes squarely in the starting lineup of the NBA All-Ugly team.

Even uglier, there are no solutions for Jackson, nobody to turn to on the bench. Jack Nicholson might crack the lineup before Luke Walton, and Luke's still owed $11,780,000 over the next two years. Blake has three years and $12 million left. Barnes and Brown have player options for next year. And Pau, who hopefully emerges from this funk by next season, has $57 million due over the next three years. Phil won't have to worry about it as he rides his motorcycle off into the sunset, but don't be surprised if Kupchak orders Laker trainer Gary Vitti to "accidentally" poison at least Walton before the lockout.

As 2011 and the Kobe era wind down, some Laker fans just can't accept the inevitable. Walking out of Staples last night, I told my 8-year-old daughter that the Lakers can't win the championship every year. Her earnest reply? "But, daddy, we're the Lakers! We always win."

As the ship sails onto the horizon, all Laker fans can ask for is effort. Go down swinging, preferably without intentionally disfiguring someone who just torched you. Be classy, even if you're losing to Mark Cuban's team. The appreciation for this Laker group and the championships is still there, but just don't quit. It would have been nice to win number 17 and tie the Celtics for most all time, but at least the Lakers won the last matchup, and the Celtics aren't winning a title any time soon, either. So sit back and enjoy some good basketball.

May the Durant v. LeBron Finals matchup happen. Good vs. Evil. Luke vs. Darth. Cow Pies and Meadow Muffins vs. "Our *#!$ doesn't stink." Because if it's Atlanta v. Memphis, I'm hoping for an early lockout.

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