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THE INSIDE TRACK | THE HOT CORNER

June 03, 1997|MIKE PENNER

A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, played, heard, observed, worn, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here.

What: Toronto Sun and Star vs. Michael Johnson

O Canada, your inferiority complex is showing.

Sunday's 150-meter race between Canadian Donovan Bailey and American Michael Johnson was nothing more than a novelty act, a curiosity that did little more than arch eyebrows on this side of the border.

But in Toronto, host city of the "One to One Challenge of Champions," the two daily newspapers basked in Bailey's victory as if he had saved the country from aliens, cured cancer and won the Stanley Cup.

"BAILEY FOR PRIME MINISTER!" bellowed the cover headline of Monday's tabloid Toronto Sun.

Inside, five stories and four columns were devoted to Bailey's 14.99 seconds on the floor of the Skydome. More headlines: "Bailey leaves Texan in dust," "Bailey crushes Johnson in Skydome showdown, calls him 'chicken,' " "Big show was worth the wait," and, unable to resist too much of a good thing, "Lame excuse!"

Streamed across the front page of the Toronto Star, just below the masthead and just above a six-column color photo of Bailey draped in the Canadian flag, was a mammoth three-word exclamation: "Bailey the unbeatable!"

A few inches lower, the Star began its coverage of Monday's national election.

Page 1 of the Star's sports section featured another six-column color photo of Bailey, this time looking over his shoulder at a hobbling, off-in-the-distance Johnson, and another six-column streamer, "Bailey runs away with it".

How about it, Americans?

That sight of Johnson pulling up helplessly on the straightaway keep you up Sunday night? Did you have to phone in sick Monday because of crippling depression?

Sorry, Canada. America just didn't care.

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