By Frank Deford
October 07, 2009

My gracious, but this has been a difficult time for us sports troubadours. We do better with simple games, with the tic-tac-toe offensive and defensive Xs and Os, as opposed to the exes and ohs that refer to past marital tense and current romantic joy. I mean, hardly had I begun to digest the news that Lamar Odom of the NBA had married Khloe Kardashian of reality show fame -- ohhh! -- than comes word that Chris Evert and Greg Norman, America's senior sweethearts, had broken up, potential exes-to-be.

Then, poor Ted Williams' frozen head returns to the news -- grisly -- and grimly, poor Chicago, is thrown out on its keister by the International Olympic Committee -- a cabal that loathes the United States only slightly less than do the Taliban and Roman Polanski.

But let us return to matters of the heart. Tell me now: weren't we all convinced that Chrissie and The Shark were the perfect couple for the nineteenth hole of life? For once it looked as if Norman would not choke down the stretch, and Evert would not stay in the backcourt.

Indeed, because the rich and handsome Shark had actually become the first rich, handsome fifty-something male celebrity on record to actually marry someone of his own generation, his popularity amongst mature women soared beyond anything he had ever enjoyed on the links. Norman had it made: the anti-Berlusconi. But as we were Cupid's acolytes, rooting for Greg and Chrissie, we forgot that marriages between two athletes seldom hold up.

A nation now turns its sentimental eyes toward Andre and Steffi.

The Odom-Kardashian union poses a more intriguing question, though: can the marriage of an athlete and a reality show star succeed? That's something so new that the jury isn't even out yet; so whirlwind was the romance 'tween the LA Laker and the reality lifer that we are only now assembling the voir dire in this matter.

As for that quadrennial global reality show, Chicago's abject rejection is no one's fault here -- not the President's, not Oprah's. For once, we can't even blame the Cubs. Rather, the greasy antics of the International Olympic Committee make Chicago's own fabled politics look, by comparison, like Periclean Athens. The IOC members still hold it against the United States that the Atlanta Olympics were so tacky and that the Salt Lake City Olympics highlighted the IOC corruption that has so often attended the selection of host cities.

Forget it, America. Any U.S. metropolis that may be pondering a bid for the 2020 Olympics would be more wisely advised to petition St. Augustine to become the designated City of God. It would have a much better chance to earn that distinction.

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