Our Daily Dread: Answer this: Is it a leap of fate, or a deleted scene from “Speed”?

What has the bigger upside for a New Year’s Eve live televised disaster in L.A.: The Clippers’ Staples Center game against Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers, or Travis Pastrana pushing a Subaru off a ramp, over 30-feet deep water, and onto a large barge in Long Beach’s Rainbow Harbor?

TNT will televise tonight’s Clippers contest with the 9-22 Sixers at 6:30 p.m. (with Kevin Harlan, Doug Collins Reggie Miller and Cheryl Miller). Sorry, it’s public information. Just in case you needed to know.

But by about halftime, ESPN will televise Pastrana rally-car jump about the length of a football field at 8 p.m., right after that danger Chick-fil-A Bowl between (we’re not sure, look it up) has concluded.

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Across the street from LA Live — a safe distance from where George Lopez is in concert at the Nokia Theatre, where the Stone Temple Pilots are playing at Club Nokia and where the Gypsi Kings are at the Conga Room, and perhaps where Steve Mason is sharing chicken strips at the ESPN Zone with Arash Markasi (who, for some reason, has a four paragraph Wikipedia entry on himself, linked here) — you already have a vision of how this Clippers thing against the Clippers will end up. Baron Davis will get into a “contest” with “The Answer,” Elton Brand will disappear in the third quarter to see if he can get some of his old Clipper gear at an LA Team Store discount, and we’ll be at the Philly official team site throwing 10 bucks out on the Visa card to order the Sixers Dancer Team 2010 calendar (linked here).

We expect traffic to be usually heavy in that two-square block off Figueroa. As well as traffic on the Sixers’ website.

It’s up to you how daring you are at dodging cars while crossing Chick Hearn Court.

But if you can’t get your head around what’s going on at the Pine Street Pier in Long Beach, here’s a CGI attempt at what Pastrana will be attempting (possibly with a Red Bull in his right hand the whole time):

The goal is to break the 171-foot world record for the longest distance jump in a rally car. Pastrana will try to make it to 250 feet in his “street-legal” rig.

More or less.

Mostly, right on the mark.

Rescue crews are standing by.

No limits on how crazy this can all get.

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Your L.A. NFL TV week 17 schedule: Let’s end it with some implications

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Life couldn’t be better in Tagliabueville Goodell Falls. Optimism stretches from … here …. to there ….

Unless your a Colts’ fan, still booing.

CBS NFL studio analyst and former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher has this to stay in a network-released statement about how the league’s regular-season will finish this weekend:

“It’s wonderful for a Week 17 to have as many playoff-implication games as we have, particularly in the AFC, and even still now in the NFC with a bye week riding on the final results. The NFL playoff system is as good as you’re going to have it. I’ve always said about the National Football League, as opposed to the other professional Leagues, you can play your way into the playoffs. In a lot of other Leagues you play your way out of the playoffs. That very clearly indicates to me that the NFL has the right amount of teams in the playoffs – not too many, not too few. Nothing is more evident than what we see in Week 17 with all the possible playoff implications that still exist.”

It’s wonderful to be Cowher, too. Not having to explain why your team won the Super Bowl one year and has to rely on others to just return to the playoffs the next season.

Oh, and we like implications. It implies there’s more to what we’re watching and don’t understand all the ramifications.

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Like, can the Cowboys win the NFC East? Apparently so, by beating the Eagles.

Like, why did the league move Cincinnati-N.Y. Jets to the NBC Sunday night contest? Because a Carson Palmer-Mark Sanchez matchup seemed as necessary as a hot-dog eating contest?

It’s been pointed out that if New England wins earlier in the day against Texas, Cincinnati has nothing to play for against the Jets and will probably rest its starters. The Jets need to win to get in — it’s the only “win or go home” contest on the docket for Sunday. So that’s why it’s in the prime-time spot.

Sunday’s Week 17 finale to the regular season, according to your L.A. providers:

10 a.m., Channel 11: N.Y. Giants at Minnesota (with Kenny Albert, Moose Johnson and Tony Siragusa) instead of San Francisco-St. Louis, Atlanta-Tampa Bay, New Orleans-Carolina or Chicago-Detroit.

10 a.m., Channel 2: Pittsburgh at Miami (with Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf) instead of Indianapolis-Buffalo, New England-Houston or Jacksonville-Cleveland.

1 p.m., Channel 2: Baltimore at Oakland (with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms) instead of Kansas City-Denver or Tennessee-Seattle.

1 p.m., Channel 11: Philadelphia at Dallas (with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman) instead of Green Bay-Arizona or Washington-San Diego.

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5:15 p.m., Channel 4: Cincinnati at N.Y. Jets (with Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Andrea Kremer).

Now go back up to that photo of George Bailey and see, without consulting with Uncle Billy, how big a deal it is having two former USC QBs — Palmer or Sanchez — sneaking a sideline hotdog in the midst of a prime-time contest.

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Our Daily Dread: The (not unexpected) Sunderland backlash

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Abby and Zac Sunderland pose with Jesse Martin, left, the Australian 16-year-old who holds the record for youngest nonstop unassisted circumnavigation, which he completed in 1999. Zac held the unofficial record for youngest assisted trip, which was unofficially broken by British teen Mike Perham a few months after Zac’s return last July. Abby is preparing for a nonstop, unassisted route but could change plans before — and after — she launches next week. Another Australian, Jessica Watson, is in the middle of a unassisted circumnavigation.
Photo by Lisa Gizara/ GizaraArts.Com

Reaction to Tuesday’s selection of Zac and Abby Sunderland as the Daily News’ Sportspersons of the Year (story linked here) wasn’t done as a way to generate degenerative responses to the Thousand Oaks teenagers’ abilities to sail around the world solo. But it’s no surprise that’s what can and has happened.

Instead of celebrating their ability to follow a dream — accomplishing it, as far as Zac goes, and planning for it, in Abby’s case — it’s easier to criticize the parents from afar, without having all the facts, reacting from an emotional place of prejudgement.

Sure, we doubt we’d allow our son or daughter to go off on such a dangerous adventure. But it’s because we know our kids aren’t equipped for such a challenge. Zac and Abby are. They’ve proven it to their parents. That’s all that matters.

What else do you need to know, other than all the pertinent information?

Still …

A “disgusted” grandmother from Northridge writes:

“I think the Sunderland parents should be punished for child abuse; encouraging truancy and then should be surgically or otherwise sterilized so they cannot have anymore children (I think the piece said they had 7 kids and she is pregnant).
I don’t know what the parents motivation is (but would bet there is money involved somewhere…..the stated more altruistic goals are, in my opinion, hogwash) but I am appalled at all of this and for the Daily News to name the children as sportspersons of the year is almost enough to make me cancel my subscription (but I won’t because I appreciate the thorough high school sports coverage).”

She’s right. She doesn’t know the parents’ motivation, but why stop from assuming with wild generalizations? Want to ask the parents themselves? Their motivation is nothing more than having their kids be happy, be safe and be good people.

And have faith.

From “Sheesh” in L.A.:
“Child endangerment, pure and simple, and the LADN is encouraging it with this “award.” Hopefully all goes well with the upcoming trip, but there are plenty of pirates out there who would really like to meet this young lady.”

Again, what you don’t know: Abby won’t to do the non-stop, unassisted trip if it endangers her life. She’s not reckless, as her mother has said. If she has to stop, make repairs, take a different route — she says on her blog that’s what she’ll do. The “record” isn’t the primary motivation.

From the tail end of today’s T.J. Simers’ column in the L.A. Times (linked here):

“The Los Angeles Daily News named Zac and Abby Sunderland, the kid sailors, Los Angeles Sportspersons of the Year. What’s next — naming the Sunderlands’ mother and father L.A.’s Parents of the Year because no one knows how to endanger the good health of their children as they do?
Abby hasn’t even started her trip, and she’s part of the duo named L.A.’s Sports-
persons of the Year? Ahead of Kobe Bryant, who led the Lakers to a championship?
“In announcing the newspaper’s selection, reporter Tom Hoffarth likened the Sunderlands’ honor to one given jointly to Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart years ago.
‘Zac and Abby Sunderland, for reminding us how to dream big no matter what the obstacles,’ wrote Hoffarth, ‘are just as worthy dual recipients. Maybe even more so.’
What a joke. By the way, Hoffarth is known best for his humor writing.”

Thanks for the shout-out all the way from Washington, D.C.
The Sunderland story inspired a column out of Simers 15 days ago (linked here), and enough reader response to fill another column space five days later (linked here). If only for that, Simers should appreciate the Sunderland’s accomplishments.

One of his readers’ reactions: “Say (Abby) doesn’t make it and there’s some tragedy at sea, is the world any worse off for losing a 16-year old girl with a zest for living AS SHE SEES FIT? I think her death would be more meaningful than most 16-ish mall rats, who you seem to admire and raise. Say she does make it, chances are she’s more interesting for the rest of her life and full of life than your over-protected mall rat will ever be.”

Another wrote: “These Sunderland kids, and parents, are not afraid of greatness and all greatness comes with risk. . . . they have taken life and death into their own hands and learned to value life, and learned that life is only valuable if you take some chances.”

That, in a dingy, is what we are communicating. And celebrating.
And, no, I don’t have any other snarky comments to add to it.

One more thing: Here’s an excerpt of an email from Zac and Abby’s mother, Marianne, sent to us after the story ran:

“So many times people get caught up in the danger or the drama or suspicious thoughts about Laurence and I. Abby’s quote (in the story, an excerpt from her blog) brought tears to my eyes as I realized that someone finally got it! It is about encouraging dreams not only in our own kids but in anyone else who has a dream.”

Abby’s blog post back in July, after seeing Zac return from his 13-month journey, for those who didn’t see it:

“I had begun to think that dreams are meant to be no more than dreams and that in reality dreams don’t come true. Then my brother left on his trip. It was amazing to see all the support that he got from around the world and to see how everyone worked together to help make his dream reality. Watching him do this really made me believe that I could too.”

Do you encourage your kids to dream, or squash them because it doesn’t fit into your plans, or what others might think of you?

Do you encourage your kids to think their dreams through, or belittle them because you don’t know enough about what the realities entail?

Do you love your kids enough to set them free and live their own lives, trusting they’ve listened to your advice, pro and con, and have the faith to follow through on a goal?

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Photo by Lisa Gizara/ GizaraArts.Com
More photos by GizaraArts at Abby Sunderland’s website: http://abbysunderland.com/photo-gallery.php

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More on Zac and Abby Sunderland, the ’09 DN Sportspersons of the Year

Following up on today’s column (linked here):

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== Follow Abby Sunderland as she nears the launch date of her five-month non-stop tour of the world aboard her new vessel, Wild Eyes (linked here)

== Follow Zac Sunderland as he contemplates his next trip, and takes advanced orders for a DVD documenting his around-the-world voyage (linked here)

== The June 15 ESPN Magazine cover piece on Zac’s trip (linked here)

== And as to why the Sunderland family — which includes 12-year-old Toby, 11-year-old Jessie, 6-year-old Lydia, soon-to-be 5-year-old Katherine, 2-year-old Ben and another on the way this summer — lives, in all places, land-locked Thousand Oaks, Marianne Sunderland explains:

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“We lived for a long time in Marina del Rey, but it really wasn’t kid-friendly,” Zac and Abby’s mother explained. “We were going to church in Simi Valley and someone told us about about how nice it was to live around there. We had just sold our last boat and were looking for a fixer-upper when a house came up (in Thousand Oaks). It’s great for the family. It’s not so great for (husband) Lawrence, because it’s a heck of a commute.”

Laurence, a shipwright who repairs and delivers boats, usually takes Pacific Coast Highway through Malibu canyon to get to his working sites, which include Marina del Rey, Santa Monica and as far as Long Beach.

As for which of the Sunderland kids is the one to most worry about, Marianne didn’t hesistate: “My 2-year-old (Ben) is likely to grab a hammer and run off with no fear.”

Stay tuned for the 2025 Daily News Sportsperson of the Year: Ben Sunderland.

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Coming Tuesday: The 2009 Daily News Sportspersons of the Year

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Abby and Zac Sunderland, the 2009 Daily News Sportspersons of the Year. Staff photo by John McCoy.

Who in the name of Los Angeles made the biggest impact on our sportsworld in 2009?

Kobe Bryant, for delivering the Lakers’ 15th NBA title to Los Angeles? Phil Jackson, for breaking the record with his 10th world championship as an NBA coach?

Nope, and nope..

Zenyatta, for delivering an emotional victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic against a field of 11 male horses at Santa Anita to stay perfect and retire undefeated?

Close, but she’s no Cigar.

Zac Sunderland did something no other human did when, at 17 years old, he sailed the world’s oceans solo. The Thousand Oaks teenager left Marina del Rey in the summer of ’08 and returned 11 months later, 20 pounds lighter, a bit worn for wear, but with an adventure none of his friends ever experienced. Pirates, sleep deprivation, repairs to his 36-foot Intrepid that would seem ridiculous.

It added up to Zac being co-Daily News Sportsperson of the Year.

As Chris Jones wrote when he did a piece on Zac for the covery story in the June 5 issue of ESPN The Magazine: “(Zac) discovered a new resilience, gleaned from the humidy-swollen Mark Twain collection he had stored in his cabin, with its invocations to live an extraordinary life, to believe that something larger is waiting if we just lift our fat asses off the couch.”

Zac has to share the award with his 16-year-old sister, Abby.

She said she had the idea, three years ago, to sail around the world. Unassisted. And by herself. It’s just that her older brother had the money saved up first to do it.

Now it’s her chance.

While trying to have already left, Abby’s plans have been updated to where she’ll be leaving Marina del Rey sometime next week. According to her latest blog entry (linked here), she’s still getting her 40-foot vessel, Wild Eyes, with the right equipment, freeze-dried food and homework books.

As if she’ll really have many waking hours to dedicate to reading.

Tuesday, read more about the siblings separated by 23 months but with one big thing in common: Big dreams.

One accomplished his. The other is about to.

“I think they’re pretty typical brother and sister,” says their mother, Marianne. “He teases her, she teases him, but ultimately they look out for each other.”

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