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Two modest proposals

From Athens, Michael Wilbon observes that the US Mens basketball team has a skill deficit. The fault lies in the system of developing players in the US, and there is no easy remedy. A national training center for the best teenagers - with emphasis on academics as well as hoops, but absent the distractions of the typical high school and the recruiting imbroglio that envelops these kids - would be a radical, but perhaps effective response.

Betcha didn't know that the Travers Stakes - the mid-summer Derby - is on tap at Saratoga today. In Slate, John Williams suggests axing the Preakness, and finishing off the triple crown with the Travers in its place. Williams argues that this move would put racing on today's front pages, even at the expense of the Olympics. I think he's right, though perhaps it is the Belmont that should be cut. I'm more of a traditionalist than most, but racing would benefit by adapting to modern methods of training, and modern economic facts of life. The Triple Crown puts racing on the national radar for about six weeks each spring. Stretching it out through the summer would ease the physical toll the horses, and keep the sport from being filed away for the following year, at least for another two months.