hanks, Scott

I can't go along with all the jingoism being displayed over the United States' professional, all-star basketball team now preparing for the Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.

It is a bad idea, commercially driven by the National Basketball Association to sell its product worldwide. It will backfire.

It is destroying the idea of honest competition. Not only that, but it's a clear violation of the Olympic ideal. We have turned our backs on the ideal of sportsmanship. Have I misspoken? Are we supposed to believe in sportsmanship in this era of steroids and multimillion-dollar salaries?

Aren't we the guys who always rooted for the underdogs?
We have gathered together this group of players who is clearly capable of winning every game it plays in the Olympics by 50 points or more.

It's the kind of thing we'd accuse Saddam or Hitler or Mussolini of doing.
I can't watch the games for more than five minutes. There is no competition. I wonder if anyone else can watch them, either.

We should have had Olympic basketball tryouts and sent some of our best young players.

Was it necessary to panic because we once lost to the Soviet Union?
So much is still made of losing that single game to the Soviets two decades ago. We keep charging that the refs cheated our team. We still won't accept the second-place medals.

We may have lost that game, but our honor wasn't at stake. It was, after all, only a game.

Was our national psyche so wounded that it became necessary to send superstars like Michael Jordan and his gang to decimate the world?

We most certainly will win the Olympic basketball championship of the world this time. But it will be a victory without honor. This time, we really shouldn't accept the medal.