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Feb 16, 2010 3:04 PM by Mike Moran, Bea Karnes

Vancouver Vantage Point: Blackmun's USOC start worthy of a medal

Mike Moran was the chief spokesman for the United States Olympic Committee through thirteen Games, 1980-2002. He is now a media consultant. Moran is writing a blog, Vancouver Vantage Point, throughout the Olympics.

"Whether it's the best of times or the worst of times, it's the only time we've got," said Art Buchwald............Scott Blackmun must have read Buchwald along with a lot of others during his undergraduate days at Dartmouth on days away from the soccer field, where the erstwhile Big Green goaltender was allowing only a modest 1.02 goals per game in his rough and tumble varsity days........the new USOC chief executive is on a roll in his first month on the job, and what's happening just this week in Vancouver is dizzying in its impact on the organization and its staff...........Team USA is off to a rollicking start, leading the medal chase with eight already, one, amazingly, by the former Bad Boy of skiing, Bode Miller, who landed a bronze in the men's downhill, and who is showing millions all the traits of a mature athlete, proud Olympian and Dad, and a humility that is endearing him to Americans everywhere........in a nice article in the respected Sports Business Journal yesterday, Dave Ogrean, the chief executive of USA Hockey, was asked which things he likes in several categories.........when the question was "A Hire?", his answer was "Scott Blackmun to lead the USOC. It'll be years before we can give out a report card, but I'm more optimistic about the USOC and the Olympic movement than I have been in a long time."..............and for good reason........check out what's been going down in the last few days aside from American athletes on the medal stand in Vancouver........the USOC announced a major new sponsorship agreement yesterday with giant global energy firm BP which makes the corporate biggie, also a sponsor of the 2012 Games in London, a sponsor of the 2010 and 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams and the 2011 U.S. Pan American Games Team..........it's worth millions in needed revenue for the USOC, which has lost major sponsors like Bank of America, Home Depot and General Motors since the Beijing Games, but is on the rebound with new agreements like Procter and Gamble........in Vancouver, Blackmun and Chairman Larry Probst have been hosting IOC members and important International sport federation officials non-stop at USA House....on Sunday night, 37 IOC members, including President Jacques Rogge attended a USOC reception, and Blackmun and Probst have had private meetings with more than a dozen Olympic bigwigs, including several members of the powerful IOC Executive Board.....all part of an outreach effort to repair the USOC's frayed relationship with the IOC and chart a new path to restoring its global image that helped derail Olympic bid efforts by New York (2012) and Chicago (2016)...........Blackmun has also announced a campaign to help the nation of Haiti and its National Olympic Committee to rebuild and also a renewal of the bilateral agreement with China on an exchange of business practices, sport performance, and marketing........not so highly publicized, but vitally important to American athletes, Blackmun revealed a new USOC program that will rebuild the chances of athletes to find full-time jobs with Olympic sponsors, partnering with Adecco Group North America and Hilton Worldwide...........and he showed his understanding of our athletes and the tricky issue of the world of drugs last week when he told the IOC that the USOC wanted some compassion related to revoking medals from a women's relay team in the Beijing Games with a runner who was sanctioned, though not running in the finals........ "On that issue, what we're concerned most about is being empathetic and sympathetic to the athletes on that team who were not involved in doping," said Blackmun. "At the end of the day, the rules are the rules and if the rules say the medals go back, then that's what's going to happen. But there are a lot of athletes on that relay team who didn't do anything wrong and our hearts go out to them."......that's a dramatic change of tone for the USOC, which pressured female relay team members to return their medals when the IOC was stripping U.S. relay runners in Sydney of their hardware in the aftermath of the Marion Jones fiasco........Blackmun also took time in the hectic days just ahead of his departure for Vancouver to thoughtfully send an important message to his (and the USOC's) hometown of Colorado Springs that he was bringing the USOC's most important annual gathering of the Olympic family, the 2010 U.S. Olympic Assembly, to the city in September with more than 600 important attendees........he was also very clear in statements to local business leaders and others that his goal was to again make the city proud of being the home of the American Olympic Movement and the USOC in the months and years ahead..........there's a lot of the Games remaining in Vancouver, but there are a lot of people beginning to understand that where the USOC is now mentioned, there's a new sheriff in town, and a good one.

And a Random Musing: As our men's hockey team faces off with Switzerland today, viewers will see the best of the game.......though it's played on an NHL-sized sheet, the rules are very different......Goons and "Enforcers" are not welcome, any NHL-style fighting will result in ejection..........head shots are outlawed and will bring a penalty ranging from a 10-minute misconduct to a match penalty and suspension.......there are more, but these are the ones that will guarantee that fans will see the best hockey in the world, without the grabbing and clutching and the stupid scenarios where two guys drop their gloves and go at it while the referees wait the required moments before breaking it up, with bug-eyed fans whacking the glass and spilling their beers on their spouses or pals. Let's play Hockey!

Here's some really good websites to help you follow the Games

www.teamusa.org (Official USOC site)
www.sportsfeatures.com (scores of Olympic stories from all over the world)
www.nbcolympics.com (the NBC Games site)
http://pressbox.teamusa.org (The USOC's superb media site)
www.newsfirst5.com (Click on link to Olympic coverage)
www.gazette.com (click on the link to Olympic coverage)
www.csindy.com
www.aroundtherings.com (Worth the subscription price, too)

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