Great Bodies in Sports

Dickens wrote that phrase to describe 1780s France, and Valentine's Day, I think.

Cupid's got two types of arrows, you know. The first kind, the kind everyone relishes, softly pricks your heart and leaves you in love. The second kind feels like a spear in your stomach-going so deep that you have to break off the shaft-and leaves you with a gaping, festering wound in your gut.

That's right; Valentine's Day is just as much about hate as it is about love. You despise lovers and love if you're not in it, but you love love if you are. I learned that from experience and from listening to a bunch of 50s and 60s music.

This time around, I'm lucky in love. And I'll stay that way. Therefore, I'll enjoy Valentine's. (Although, I'm upset that the guys who draw up the calendar put it on Wednesday this year-how unthoughtful-they must be single.)

What does all this have to do with sports? Absolutely nothing.

But Valentine's did get me thinking about, and weeping softly for, all those single guys out there. And that got me thinking about bachelorhood. And that got me thinking about Ace's Bluegrass Bachelor Auction this Friday (Feb 9). And that got me thinking that I am glad to be a judge and not a contestant.

As an appreciation to the woman who saved me from contestant-eligibility, my fiancé, I offered her a chance to list her five fantasy men in the space below. The only stipulation was that they all couldn't be me and that they had to come from within athletics (hey, this is a sports column after all).

For the ladies, the good news is that these dudes (some married) are all rich and famous. The bad news: none of them will be in attendance on Feb. 9. For us men, it's vice versa.

Anyway, without further ado, here are her selections, which, upon sending them to me, she prefaced with, "No offense to you, but...."

Thanks, darlin'.

5. Oscar de la Hoya. Credentials: Former WBO, IBF, and WBC boxing world champion in three different weight classes.

Don't really know much about him, but don't need to. Has that bad-boy look that several ladies go after - the dark hair and dark complexion. He's got a pretty good body, nice arms of course. But I expected him to have a better physique. He has a beautiful face - the parts that haven't been beaten up anyway!

4. Lenny Krayzelburg. Credentials: Ukrainian immigrant who backstroked his way to three golds for the U.S. in the Sydney games.

Has that foreign appeal - a little mysterious, and his accent makes him cute. Plus his eyes are stunning - so many girls love blond-haired and blue-eyed men. And his body is one nice piece of work. Broad shoulders and a washboard! What else do you need?

3. Kurt Warner. Credentials: St. Louis Rams quarterback. NFL MVP in 1999 and Super Bowl XXXIV MVP.

Kurt's not the drop-dead gorgeous type but nonetheless very handsome. Seems like such a genuine, good-guy type. This makes him more attractive. Has a warm smile and a friendly personality - there is just a glow about him, which probably sprouts from his deep faith. He looks like he makes a great husband; I bet this was one that a lot of mothers cried over when he got married. Also, his trademark stubble is nice - gives him that rugged look.

2. Pete Sampras. Credentials: Best tennis player ever (maybe). Owner of a record 13 Grand Slam Titles.

Pete is just plain cute. Has that boy next-door look. The gap between his teeth and his innocent smile just emphasizes this look even more. What else? Oh, great legs!! (Chalk that one up for the same reason that Anna K. (see below) has great legs - tennis.) To women, to me, at least, his dark, hairy legs are gorgeous.

1. Michael Jordan. Credentials: Best basketballer ever, and probably still. President of basketball operations and part owner of NBA's Wizards and of NHL's Capitals.

Even bald, this guy is absolutely sexy. Looks great in his uniform, a business suit, or whatever else. Strong smile-perfect and sparkling-probably has a lot to do with his attractiveness. Very classy in dress and demeanor. Nice cheekbones, beautiful skin, and on and on....

How can I disagree? (But then, how can I agree, either?) She's got good taste.

But I do too. So here's my top five, for fair balance and all.

5. Serena Williams. Credentials: 2001 Australian Open doubles champ, 2000 Wimbledon doubles champ and 2000 Olympic gold medallist (doubles), 1999 U.S. Open singles and doubles champ.

Much prettier than her sis Venus. Vivacious, confident. Best build in sports, male or female.

4. Jenny Thompson. Credentials: 2000 Olympic gold medallist. Has won more Olympic swimming golds than any other U.S. woman.

Pictures don't always do her justice (with that one last summer in Sports Illustrated excepted). But in person, she's quite pretty, and her blue eyes are dazzling.

3. Tara Lipinski. Credentials: 1998 Olympic figure skating gold medallist. World and national champion in 1997.

Extremely cute, in an Ally McBealish way, and seems very pleasant.

2. Shawnae Jebbia. Credentials: Host for ESPN2's "Co-ed Training" fitness show. 1998 Miss USA. Former D-I volleyballer.

See credentials - and her show.

1. Anna Kournikova. Credentials: Hasn't won a professional tournament, but who cares?

Great legs and all else. Exquisite facial features. But the long, golden hair is what does it for me.

And that does do it for me. I must confess, this (disclosing my dream girls) has been fun, and relieving. But just like she didn't want to offend me, I hope my fiancé isn't offended.

Or else I might just be eligible for the ACE auction block after all.

Meet Jeff Zurcher at Ace's Bluegrass Bachelor Charity Date Auction this Friday, February 9, 7pm-9pm at the Loudoun House, Castlewood Drive. As one of the celebrity panelists, he will be "interviewing" the bachelors, beauty-pageant style. Auction proceeds benefit Woodstock Animal Foundation.