There's an interesting analysis concerning American athletes and two sports of international significance: Soccer and basketball.

In the sport of basketball, which we invented, U.S. athletes have the creativity, agility, quickness and skills. What we lack are the fundamentals which Europeans emphasize with their young athletes; Argentineans also, which was proven in the last Olympics. Attend any high school game and the absence of fundamentals is obvious. The young guys want to do what the pros do.

Soccer is a different story, very different. American kids as young as five are playing organized soccer where they are drilled in the fundamentals and execute the same drills over and over until they become automatic.

What our athletes lack is the creativity and imagination that is evident in other countries where kids grow up with a ball, a field and nothing else; certainly not organized leagues and coaching. They learn the sport the hard way, and the best.

The world appeal of soccer is no mystery. You don't need any equipment such as hoops or back-boards, no goal posts or pads and helmets, no balls and bats with a baseball diamond: Just a ball and a field. The poorest third world country can supply that and send a team to the World Cup and defeat our guys, who have it all.

Question: Why do they have seats in the stadiums for World Cup Soccer? No one sits down...or shuts up!

Right now Roger Federer is the king of tennis, at least on grass surfaces. But... look out for Rafael Nadal who just turned 20 and with another year of experience will be a challenge on any surface.

I enjoy watching Federer for two reasons: his amazing skills and he's a non-grunter!

The loss of Ben Wallace will be a blow to the Pistons but one they can over-come. The offense will be more flexible and Ben's defensive skills were diminishing. He wasn't much of a factor in the Miami series.

The object of the game is to outscore the opposition and 110-105 is as much of a win as 80-75. With Ben on offense it was four against five. Still, I wish Ben had stayed and Rasheed had gone.

Phillie Phile: I'm not thrilled about Ryan Howard being in the home run-contest. Remember Abreu? Lieber and Lidle could bring something on the market. I'd trade them and go with youth: Madson, Mathieson, Hamels and hopefully Myers... When Liberthal returns, Coste should be the back-up. Fasano goes...I'd trade Abreu for a quality pitcher, or third baseman or catcher...De Lucci stays and Burrell goes - for a taped ball and a broken bat...this season is history; let's rebuild.

Sports Quotes of the Week: Bob Ryan of ESPN had this evaluation of the love-hate relationship between Yankee fans and Alex Rodreguez: "The problem is the money. Instead of wearing number 13, A-Rod should wear 250, as in his contract for 250 million."

Jay Leno on the low television ratings for the National Hockey League Playoffs: "Even Lord Stanley didn't watch and it's his cup!"

P.S. Remember when television was supposed to be the death of movies? Now, TV is the number one advertising tool for movies and it's certainly working. Check "Pirates of the Caribbean."

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