5 things to watch for at London 2012
The Yankees have a comfortable lead in the AL East, the Mets once again appear to be experiencing a summer swoon and NFL training camps have yet to officially open.
So why not tune in to the Olympics for the next few weeks?
The international competition, which will be held in some of sport's most historic venues in London beginning this weekend, promises to provide even the most hardcore baseball or football fan with plenty of compelling storylines.
Here are five to whet your appetite on the eve of London 2012:
1. How Lolo can you go? Lolo Jones, representing Team USA in the 100-meter hurdles, has an opportunity to become the darling of the 2012 Games, even if some of her teammates believe the medalless (so far) commercial icon is more hype than hurdler. Jones, who clipped a hurdle that cost her gold during the 2008 finals in Beijing, is ready to prove she's more than just a media darling.
2. London Dreaming: The latest version of Team USA basketball, out to defend the gold it recaptured in Beijing, isn't just interested in knocking off its international competitors this summer. Led by a trash-talking Kobe Bryant and newly minted NBA champion LeBron James, the Americans are daring to take on the legacy of the original Dream Team of the 1992 Barcelona Games. Though Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson have both mocked Bryant for claiming that the 2012 squad could beat their star-studded unit, the U.S. can go a long way toward backing up Bryant's boasts if they go undefeated through a much tougher field than existed two decades ago. Then again, even one loss en route to the podium will likely keep the modern Dream Teamers from squawking about their place in history.
3. Blade Runner: Be sure to tune in to see South Africa's double-amputee Oscar Pistorius in the men's 400-meter sprint and 4x400 relay. The "fastest man in the world with no legs" has drawn criticism from Olympic greats like Michael Johnson for his use of carbon-fiber artificial limbs, which some say will give him an unfair advantage in London. The Court of Arbitration for Sport saw differently, and will allow Pistorius to compete against his so-called more able-bodied challengers.
4. Gold in the Grass: What does a tennis player with a record 17 major titles, including seven Wimbledon crowns, need to fill out his bulging trophy case? How about a gold medal? Roger Federer, fresh off tying the mark for most individual men's titles at the All England Club earlier this month, hopes to drop to his knees on the fabled grass again during the 2012 Games. Federer lost to American James Blake in Beijing, marking the third straight Olympics he'd failed to capture gold. This time around, the 30-year-old Swiss national should be able to take the top podium spot, especially since defending champion and longtime nemesis Rafael Nadal dropped out of the event due to injury.
5. Flying Solo: Last summer's most thrilling international event was the Women's World Cup, as millions across the globe tuned in to watch Team USA's stunning loss to Japan on penalties in Germany. Spearheaded by sage veteran Abby Wambach, young striker Alex Morgan and spitfire goalkeeper Hope Solo, the Americans are chomping at the bit to grab their third consecutive gold medal on the fabled pitch at Wembley. "Because we got so close and lost in the most dramatic way you can lose a soccer tournament [at the World Cup], it adds even more fuel to the fire," Wambach -- who has 138 goals from 182 international appearances -- told reporters last week during a conference call.