HEAD GAMES

The Baltimore Sun

Whatever happened to making the team run laps?

In St. John, Kan., the high school boys basketball team was underachieving. The coach decided to get the players to focus by hypnotizing them.

No, not by giving riveting speeches, but by literally having them undergo hypnosis with a therapist.

This wasn't met with universal approval.

"It won't be going on anymore at school," superintendent James Kenworthy told The Wichita Eagle. " ... At the high school level, it's not appropriate. We are trying to get kids to understand who they are and what they are. It may give kids a mixed message if you can't do it on your own."

However, a school board member had no problem with it.

"My son says: 'Dad, it's pretty cool. It's hypnotism!' " Mitch Minnis said. "We saw it as more of helping the kids with focus and concentration. Ninety-nine percent of the boys bought into it. ... I think this is a novel approach, and it might even help them do good in schoolwork if they know what buttons to push to concentrate."

Sure, but when a couple of players responded to the referee's whistle by squatting down and walking around the court like chickens, people got concerned.

We got spirit

A university can have many selling points to a football recruit. Its history of success. Its state-of-the-art facilities. Its academic reputation.

Or its hot cheerleaders.

Offensive lineman John Martinez, a Salt Lake City recruit who ended up signing with Southern California, told Sporting News about one school's pitch:

"I think it was Arizona that sent me a letter about their cheerleaders, that they have the best cheerleaders. I don't know - it was just crazy. It was a letter saying it, and then they had pictures of them, pictures of the cheerleaders during the game and stuff."

Then again, that sounds better than pictures of the library.

Play for a spell

So the NBA will have a H-O-R-S-E competition at its All-Star weekend. But, in an effort to wring out more dollars and help ruin our childhood memories of opposite-hand shots while straddling the neighbor's tulips, the league has sold it to a sponsor, and thus the game will be called G-E-I-C-O.

It could have been worse, though. The competition could have been called Preparation H-O-R-S-E.

You belong to the city

Perhaps you recall how Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin once was a budding sportscaster. As it turns out, her connection to that career led to one of her children's names.

Bristol Palin got her first name from the Connecticut home of ESPN. According to an interview in the new Esquire, Palin took her disappointment over the fact that the Worldwide Leader was located so far away and decided to use it to name her baby girl.

And, yes, Mr. Flip will go with the obvious, some Connecticut towns that young Miss Palin is probably glad aren't the home of ESPN: Giants Neck, Higganum, Honeypot Glen and Naugatuck.

(Tips of the Flip to SI.com and fark.com.)

Compiled from news service and Web reports by Mr. Flip, who might think of starting to go by Mr. Mystic.

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