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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

John Blanchette: Aye, there’s the snub: Give these epic films a sporting chance

So the Oscars air on Sunday night without a host, which should free up time for more virtue-signaling from presenters and honorees.

As we know, this wasn’t by design. But after the Academy originally announced Kevin Hart as the evening’s ringmaster, it took about 30 seconds for a raging case of homophobia to be uncovered in the attic of his Twitter account. Rather than bow to the Academy’s ultimatum that he apologize, Hart resigned – and then launched a weird damage-control tour that whipsawed from “Sorry” to “Whatever.”

If all the Academy sought was a quick apology, why didn’t it turn to sports? Everybody’s sorry in sports, especially when their Twitter histories are exhumed.

Heisman winner Kyler Murray released an apology for his old tweets faster than he can get rid of a football in the face of a pass rush. Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner was sorry. Josh Hader of the Brewers had “no excuse.”

Athletes can play the apology game. Comedians – Hart, Louis C.K., Kathy Griffin – suck at it.

So surely any athlete full of contrition would make a fine Oscars host. But, as usual, sports get the back of the hand from the Academy – which also snubbed these epic films in the nominations this year:

BlacKkKlansman – Colin Kaepernick settles his collusion suit with the NFL and volunteers to go undercover for the league as a quarterback.

Fifty Shades Freed – Washington State continues to madly mix and match football uniform and helmet colors – never the same combo twice. But surely it’s no coincidence that the Cougars win a record 11 games while scrapping the crimson-numbers-on- anthracite-tops abomination.

A Star Is Born – Loyola-Chicago becomes the latest Cinderella to crash the Final Four. So how come the only memorable character is the Fairy Godmother, Sister Jean?

A Wrinkle in Time – The digital time code on video reveals that Idaho’s winning shot over Eastern Washington in women’s basketball comes too late, though referees timing the replay by hand rule otherwise. EWU announces that the next game will be Stopwatch Night, with free admission to fans bringing timing devices, including hourglasses.

Bad Times at the El Royale – National champion Clemson agrees to be feted at the Trump White House, only to be served grub from McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s.

Game Night – Santa Clara takes out a full-page ad in The Spokesman-Review touting a planned basketball operations building, declaring “Game On” in a giant headline. Follow-up headline: Gonzaga 98, Broncos 39.

Ben Is Back – And back and back and back again to the drop area, after putting seven golf balls in the water and carding 17 on the second hole of a tour event. Ben DeArmond stars in the Kevin Costner Tin Cup role.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? – Cougars football coach Mike Leach and Pac-12 general counsel Woodie Dixon swap kinder, gentler texts about replay protocol and targeting calls.

If Beale Street Could Talk – New Memphis basketball coach Penny Hardaway claims other college basketball coaches are jealous of him.

Cold War – Following a training camp holdout, Earl Thomas signals to the Seahawks sideline that the franchise is No. 1 as he’s carted off the field with a broken leg.

Green Book – Colin Kaepernick’s agent drives his client from one NFL training camp to another, and still he’s not allowed in the door.

Smallfoot – Jose Canseco is ready to show you where to stalk aliens and Bigfoot. Just bring $5,000 cash and wear a tinfoil batting helmet.

Solo: A Star Wars Story – The French Fencing Federation recognizes lightsaber dueling as an official sport.

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot – Teenage basketball superstar Zion Williamson blows through his Nike sweatshop sneaker and injures a knee 33 seconds into Duke’s game with North Carolina.

Bohemian Rhapsody – WSU quarterback Gardner Minshew shows up at the Alamo Bowl in a ’70s era Cougar leisure suit, disco shirt open to the navel and gold chain.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – The Mountain West Conference tries to lure Gonzaga into jumping leagues and it’s going well until somebody leaks a picture to the players showing Laramie in January.

You Were Never Really Here – Five-star football recruit Bru McCoy enters the NCAA transfer portal and leaves USC after being on campus just three weeks.

Ralph Breaks the Internet – Spokesman-Review sports editor Ralph Walter is so gaga about publishing an 8,000-word retrospective of a fictional EWU baseball team that he forgets to send a reporter to that night’s Zags game.

The First Purge – Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto guts the roster and declares the team will be taking a “step back.” Just how far back isn’t clear until the Mariner Moose shows up as the Opening Day center fielder.

Mary Poppins Returns – After four years of teasing from his Gonzaga teammates about his hops, Josh Perkins actually dunks in a game. But there’s a suspicious umbrella in his locker.

The Favourite – UMBC becomes the first 16 seed in the NCAA tournament to topple a No. 1, blasting Virginia by 20 points. Pundits suggest grandfathering the Retrievers into the bracket every year.

Night School – Mike Leach cooks up a class for Washington State students called Insurgent Warfare and Football Strategy. Extra credit if you can tell him how to beat the Huskies.

Black Panther – Carolina offers Colin Kaepernick an NFL contract, but to win the quarterback job he must don a Vibranium suit and kill Cam Newton in ritual combat.