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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Swimming, Basketball, and Ducks

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This latest edition of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly features some more under the radar stories from the world of sports.

The Good! Being abandoned as a baby in Russia, adopted from an orphanage at one year old and having your legs amputated at age 18 months due to severe birth defects may seem an odd way to begin the good section of this article but for Jessica Long it was how life began. Today she is a multiple Paralympics gold medalist.

The Paralympics are held every four years for people with disabilities. They directly follow the Olympics and are held in the same city and venues. This year’s version is drawing to a close in Beijing. Thousands of athletes compete in hundreds of events and China currently leads the medal race over the United States.

Jessica Long originally wanted to be a gymnast but her parents worried about the stress on her knees from her artificial legs so at the age of ten she took up swimming. Two years later, at the age of twelve, she was a gold medalist at the Athens Paralympics. Today, at age 16, she is a multiple world champion and world record holder. Her times would enable her to swim competitively in college. At the Beijing Paralympics, Long won four golds, one silver, and one bronze medal. Should she decide to continue swimming she could become the most decorated Paralympian is history. Jessica Long has not only overcome tremendous physical handicaps but has achieved far more than most people who take the basics of life for granted.

The Bad! Elena Della Donne is a walk-on volleyball player at the University of Delaware. This would not be a worthy story except for the fact that a year ago Della Donne received the Naismith Award as the best female high school basketball player in the United States. She was a 6'4" guard with skills that may have allowed her to immediately play in the WNBA. As such she was recruited by just about every major college program in the country. She chose basketball power UConn. She lasted two days at Connecticut and went home to Delaware to play volleyball.

The bad is not Della Donne. She is 18 years old. The bad is the system that puts so much pressure on young athletes. Connecticut released Della Donne from her scholarship with the provision that she could only play volleyball at the University of Delaware. My feeling is that she should have been released to play anywhere she desired. All people react to pressure differently and so Della Donne walked away from basketball. I don’t know if she will be a great volleyball player but I hope she will be a happy one.

The Ugly! I have my doubts that duck hunting is actually a sport but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. In order to hunt ducks you must purchase a Federal Waterfowl Hunting Permit for $15. The highlight of these permits is the accompanying duck stamp. These colorful stamps have been issued for decades and are tremendously collectible. A card comes with them and has a renewal number. That number has been 1-800-stamp24 (782-6724) until now. The number this year was 1-800-tramp24 (872-6724), which will not connect you to the agency for duck hunting permits. Rather it will connect to a far different hotline at so many dollars per minute featuring sexy girls just waiting to chat with you.

When The Federal Fish and Wildlife Agency realized their mistake they decided it would cost too much to reprint the cards and so they are still distributing the ones with the wrong number. Why would I expect nothing less?

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