It has been just over a week and I already miss it. That being American football. There is no other sporting competition like it in the world. An intense 17-week season followed by three weeks of playoffs and culminating in the Super Bowl. Much of America and the world is transfixed for this time, and don't bother scheduling anything on Sunday afternoon from September to early February. But then its all over and the long six-month wait begins. What exacerbates the absence is that the other side of the Super Bowl is a dead time for sport. Nothing happens in early February. When the NBA and NHL playoffs wind up, the baseball season is in full swing and you are also in the midst of the Grand Slams for tennis and golf. Throw in the Tour de France, and if it is an even year, a major soccer competition as well, so you are more than good to go. The World Series crosses over with the football season so there is no problem there whatsoever - except for the fact that when there is baseball and football played at the same venue you can go cross-eyed by all the various markings on the field. "What about the Pro Bowl?" I hear you saying. Well the Pro Bowl is nothing more than a cruel and sick prank played on football lovers. While it may look and seem like football, it has no resemblance to anything you ever see in the regular season. But why do we get withdrawal symptoms so badly? Well, like any fix, once you get used to something in your system, its absence seems to affect you more. Take the upcoming soccer World Cup for instance. Over the space of a month, 64 matches are going to be played and I am most likely going to see every one of them except for the ones played on Shabbat. It is a smorgasbord of world-class sport with up to four matches a day, but even with this seeming overdose we can't get enough. The final is played and then it's over for another four years and it's back to regular life. At first you miss the carnival atmosphere and the nerve-jangling games, but then life moves on and you forget about it. In any event, there are Intertoto games to worry about. The Winter Olympics are on now and I wish I missed them. Coming from Australia, doing well in the snow and the ice is akin to Switzerland having a world champion surfer, although truth be told, we did win our first-ever Winter Olympic gold medals in Salt Lake City four years ago. But for the biathlon, curling, speed skating, parallel slalom, snowboarding and ice-hockey, there is no oneon-one competition. It would also be good if there were more team events. The Winter Games have always been the little brother of the Summer Games, which is understandable, seeing how there are only 80 countries participating in Turin, as opposed to the 202 that rocked up to Athens for the last Summer Olympics. With most of Asia, the Pacific, Africa and South America not attending, the games are very heavily European. But winter or summer, one thing stays the same - the desire to see the USA lose. * * * In a week where Israel performed miserably in its Davis Cup tie against Serbia-Montenegro, there was one bright light for Israeli tennis, and that was Shahar Pe'er winning her first-ever WTA title. Earlier in the year she made her first semifinal, which she lost in an epic encounter. She must have learned a lot from that experience, because she got through her five matches on the way to the trophy without dropping a set. Not only does her ranking zoom up to 36 and not only does she have the experience of winning her first tournament under her belt, but now she can directly enter all the bigger tournaments, which means increased rankings points and money on offer. It appears to be the most productive visit ever by an Israeli to Thailand.