Talking Points: Amateurs vs. pros

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What's the buzz from the world of sports? Here are some items that will have people talking:

1

As the Olympic Games get under way, one wish we have is that the leaders of America's colleges and universities will watch closely and realize that — with few exceptions — the athletes are not amateurs.

They are skilled performers who dedicate their lives to their craft, and are able to do so because they are paid at least enough to make it possible to train.

Historian Taylor Branch has argued in The Atlantic magazine and elsewhere that colleges need to do away with the NCAA, and get rid of out-of-date and unjust definitions of amateurism. The Olympic Games shed the bounds of amateurism a quarter century ago.

It would be nice if the NCAA would notice.

2

The announcement of the 2012-13 NBA schedule was big news in these parts. Not because there was anything particularly interesting about what is arguably one of the least meaningful regular seasons in professional sports. Heck, the local team figures to be playing out the string by around the All-Star break.

It was big news in these parts because there isn't anything else for sports fans here to latch onto during the NBA offseason.

(The Timbers have a passionate following. But until MLS has been around for a generation or two, it won't rank with leagues that have deeply rooted traditions.)

So the announcing of the Trail Blazers schedule is a big deal.

And, sadly, one of those regular reminders of those sports we don't have right here.

3

Ichiro Suzuki has been in Yankee Stadium enough to know that he needs to do something for the New York faithful to jump on his bandwagon.

"Right now I'm wearing the pinstripes. When I go out there, hopefully those fans will be on my side," he said Friday in his New York debut. "But obviously I need to do well ... so they will be on my side."

New York can be a tough crowd.

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