So you think the ‘USA Today’ knows the toughest sports? Try these |

So you think the ‘USA Today’ knows the toughest sports? Try these

Rick Chandler, Tribune correspondent

Well, it’s finally happened — people all over America are arguing over an article they saw in USA Today. We thought we would never see the day, but hey, if National Geographic can have a swimsuit issue, then why not this?

USA Today’s staff claims to know the most difficult feats in all of sports — and they tell us. Now, I know people who work there, have played pickup basketball with a couple of them and let’s just say there are no Kobe Bryants on the USA Today sports staff. So keep that in mind when you read the list.

1. Hitting a 99-mph fastball. 2. Landing a quad in figure skating. 3. Running a marathon. 4. Riding in the Tour de France 5. Stopping a soccer penalty kick. 6. Snow skiing at 80 mph.

There are others, but the numbers really don’t matter — I’m not going to be able to do the pole vault no matter in what order it’s listed.

As usual, however, USA Today got it wrong. Here’s my list of most difficult sports feats, counting down from 15:

15. Wide receiver, Arizona Cardinals: Leaving your feet to catch Jake Plummer’s wobbly throw over the middle of the field against Tampa Bay is actually being considered as a form of execution in some Muslim countries.

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14. Ski jumping: No way. I get nervous at the top of the ladder of my Doughboy pool.

13. Al Michaels broadcast partner: I think I saw Dennis Miller doing a Craftmatic Adjustable Bed commercial recently and Dan Fouts delivered the bed.

12. Quidditch Seeker: I could see a hundred more Harry Potter sequels and not make sense of this. You’re riding a broomstick and bocce balls are flying at you from all angles and you’re trying to capture a little winged ping-pong ball, all the while being scrutinized by a tipsy Richard Harris (may he rest in peace). I had a dream like this once after a 48-hour binge in Tijuana and woke up sweating profusely, sans pants, passed out in the bathtub.

11. Bowler, Cricket: I’ve played many sports, but in none of them did I have to worry about wrinkling my slacks. It’s like when you’re a kid and you’re dressed up and trying to play touch football in the parking lot after church. Impossible.

10. Jockey: Not as easy as it looks. I have a feeling that Willie Shoemaker could play basketball, but if Karl Malone tried to ride a horse for money, PETA would begin massing troops at the Utah border.

9. Pit crew, tires: Considering that it takes me two hours to change a flat, I have nothing but admiration for these magnificent, grease-covered “monkeys.”

8. Pod racer: Sitting in front of a blue screen all day, while George Lucas and his staff of nerds describe what it will look like once the CGI effects are all completed next year.

7. Being shot from a cannon: Why is this feat routinely neglected? I’d like to see you try it.

6. Goalie — Taliban Camel Polo: Your roster is depleted and your locker room is a cave.

5. Taking flute lessons when all your friends are on the baseball team: I, um, actually don’t know how even I thought of this. Forget I mentioned it.

4. Turning your back on the American flag during the National Anthem: Whether you agree with it or not, Toni Smith’s feat at Manhattanville College hasn’t been easy.

3. Figuring out what the %$&& Mike Tyson is talking about: The boxer has broken through the bottom of troubling, bizarre behavior and hit a whole new troubling, bizarre world we know nothing about.

2. Losing your helmet during the Super Bowl: Thurman Thomas missed the first two plays of Super Bowl XXVI in 1992 because of this — a feat that, to my knowledge, has never been duplicated.

1. Batting .400/Staying unfrozen: The last player to accomplish this was Bill Terry of the New York Giants in 1930.

— Rick Chandler’s interactive sports column, Capacity Crowd, can be found at Contact him at