Perfect pool's deep end is filled with scorpions

Internet company boss willing to feel the sting of immaculate bracket

Sports Plus

March 17, 2002|By Andy Knobel | Andy Knobel,SUN STAFF

Last year, Sandbox.com Inc. offered $10 million to any basketball fan who could correctly pick all 63 games in the NCAA men's tournament.

No one made it out of the first round.

This year, instead of offering gobs of cash, Sandbox, which produces Internet sports games, is offering the perfect bracketeer an opportunity to turn company president Larry Cotter's life into pure misery.

"We're so sure you're not a hoops guru," a posting on the Web site reads, "that the Sandbox team will fly you and a friend to our corporate offices in sunny Virginia and let you do any one of the following to mentally and physically scar us for the rest of our lives -- but ONLY IF you can pick the PERFECT BRACKET:

"1. Push us off the roof of our three-story building.

"2. Feed us a bucket of earthworms.

"3. Pour 50 pounds of scorpion-filled sand over our heads."

Not that he's sweating it, but Cotter says he's serious about following through on the dares.

"I wouldn't jump off the building without a net at the bottom, but I'd jump," he told Bloomberg News. "I'm not 100 percent sure how we'd get scorpions, but we'll figure something out if we need them."

It's highly unlikely he'll have to figure anything out.

Kenneth Alexander, a mathematics professor at Southern California, told Bloomberg that even a college basketball expert who can pick games at a 70 percent clip has just a 1 in 5.7 billion chance of getting all the games right. For someone who doesn't follow the sport, the odds could be as high as 9 quintillion (that's a nine followed by 18 zeroes) to 1.

And if someone does manage to get all the games right?

"In some parts of the world," Cotter said, "worms are a delicacy."

Give me an S, A, F, E

As dangerous as Cotter's life could theoretically become, he still might be safer than some college cheerleaders.

Starting next fall, the University of Nebraska cheerleaders will be prohibited from tumbling, doing back flips and building pyramids.

Athletic director Bill Byrne said the stunts cost too much to insure because they're too risky. The university last year agreed to a $2 million settlement with a former squad member who was critically injured when she fell on her head while doing a back flip during a practice in 1996.

But maybe if cheerleading stunts are banned, blocking and tackling should be, too.

"Every year, there have been deaths attributed to football," said Jim Lord, executive director of the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Advisors. "Over the past 20 years, I think there have been three to cheerleading."

Relief is in sight

The San Francisco Chronicle's Scott Ostler notes a little-reported increase in security at major league baseball stadiums this season.

"The ballparks," he said, "will have Plexiglas barriers to protect fans from John Rocker."

Catching flies no snap

The hill in center field at Astros Field has a flagpole that's in play.

"It's certainly a new twist," said Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Doug Glanville. "What's next -- an alligator pit?"

Cushioning the blow

Utah men's basketball coach Rick Majerus has a reputation of being a lousy driver.

Once, while allegedly going about 100 mph down a desert highway, a passenger in the back seat pleaded for him to slow down.

"Don't worry," said the amply filled-out coach. "I'll be your air bag."

Compiled from wire reports and Web sites.

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