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Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Game on! Dominoes should be an Olympic sport

By Scoop Jackson
Page 2

Editor's note: Throughout the Olympics, Page 2 writers will argue the merits of including various sports in the Games.

They would come from the inner crust of Cali, South Central to be specific, representing the U.S. with red and blue do-rags that had nothing to do with Crips and Bloods. Their teammates would be octogenarians from Miami, Little Havana to be specific. Outfitted in red and blue pajamas with black house slippers, and handkerchiefs to wipe away the sweat.

The rest of the world would send those they considered their best, based on tournaments held at nursing homes and in hospice waiting rooms. Gentlemen mostly over the age of 60 would be the premium; tile placement and pattern recognition would supersede youth and mathleticism. They'd come with styles of -- and the intellect for -- putting numbers together like Charlie and Don Eppes. They'd play in singles and doubles, like tennis. Team Slovakia would be the favorite to win the gold, because the history and origin of the game are European and the international rules favor them, but Korea, the U.S. and Poland would be expected to battle for silver and bronze.

In the medal rounds, the No. 8-ranked player in the world, Pookie Smith of the U.S., would be disqualified for slamming a tile down on the table trying to match "chips." The Denmark coach would protest a controversial ruling of "pattern building" by the Brazilian icon Ronaldanio. In the end, Cuba captures the gold, victorious over two U.S. players from Little Havana, claiming -- at 85 years old each -- "we taught them the game before they fled to America."