Wham-O! Quick-hitters from the Sideline Slants sports desk

They say if you don?t like the weather in Kansas, wait five minutes and it will change. Well, if you don?t like what you?re reading in this column, keep reading. It too, will change.

  • Writing on ESPN.com, Tim Keown said the three worst words in college basketball are ?extending the game.? That usually means ?you?re stuck watching a team shoot 20 free throws in the last 30 seconds while the game you really want to watch is halfway through the first half.

  • Save the earth. It?s the only planet with chocolate.

  • If you don?t think times have changed, consider this tidbit from The Washington Post: There are about 3 million girls participating in high school sports, about twice the number from 30 years ago.

  • Some sports are more dangerous than others. A recent survey by the National Center for Sports Safety of about 3.5 million kids under 15 found the following percentages of kids ages 5 to 14 got hurt playing these popular sports:

    • Football, 28 percent

    • Baseball, 25 percent

    • Soccer, 22 percent

    • Basketball, 15 percent

    • Softball, 12 percent

  • The co-founder of the company that turned the Hula Hoop and Frisbee into beloved toys died this year. Richard Knerr was 82. Knerr and childhood buddy Spud Melin started a slingshot-selling business in 1948 and called their company Wham-O after what they said was the sound of something hit by a slingshot. Ten years later, Wham-O devised its own version of an Australian exercise ring and called it the Hula Hoop.

    About the same time, the company bought the rights to a plastic flying disc called the Pluto Platter. They renamed it Frisbee, and the rest, as they say, is outdoor fun history.

  • The following story is not for the faint of heart. It?s rated GP, not PG, for great pain.

    A cross-country runner for the Berkshire High School track team was participating in the Ohio state high school cross-country championship in Columbus last November with plans to be maid of honor at her sister?s wedding that evening.

    Claire Markwardt?s leg began hurting about 200 meters from the finish line. She made it to within 40 feet of the finish line when her leg broke. She tried to get up, but it broke again. With a leg broken in several places, Claire crawled the way to cross the finish line.

    ?It was my last race of my senior year and I didn?t know how my team was doing in the race, but I wanted us to be as high as we could,? she said.

    Claire missed her sister?s wedding because she had to have the first of two surgeries that evening in a hospital.

  • It?s hard to argue with the success Joe Torre had while managing the New York Yankees. But did you know he is the first manager to lose 1,000 games before winning 1,000?

    Before finding success in New York, Torre managed the Mets, Braves and Cardinals for a total of 15 years and had only five winning seasons.

  • Some years ago, much was made of Kurt Warner?s remarkable change from Arena Football League quarterback to becoming a star quarterback in the NFL. But did you know that the Baltimore Colts, before they moved to Indianapolis, found future Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas playing semipro football for the Bluefield Rams in 1955 after he had been cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers?

    Unitas, once unwanted, is now regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in football history.

  • In the simply profound or profoundly simple department, basketball player Ray Allen, then a guard on the Seattle Sonics NBA team, said: ?Every time we lost, it?s because we didn?t score enough points.?

  • In another item taken from the book ?Amazing But True Sports,? in one memorable high school basketball game in 1937, all of Pat McGee?s St. Peter?s teammates fouled out of the game. McGee finished the game alone?and won.

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