AMERICA - Literally millions of sports widows rejoiced last Wednesday as there were absolutely no major professional sporting events scheduled for that day - the only time that will occur in 2004.

The major league baseball All-Star game was played the day before in Houston, and teams and players all enjoyed a day off during the break, with no diamond contests being scheduled on July 14.

Soccer, tennis, golf, and arena football all had off-days as well. Basketball, football, and hockey were caught in their minuscule hiatus from competition and pro-bowling and hydroplane racing seem to be weekends-only sports.

ESPN and other sports networks were reduced to showing Roger Clemens giving up home-runs and base-hits to former Yankee teammates, re-runs of overweight Southerners winning bass tournaments during the past decade, and to showing foreigners dominating pocket billiards championships held last winter in Las Vegas.

No official word as yet, but it was anticipated that restaurants, flower shops, and boutiques would report record sales that day as sports-crazed husbands (and on rare occasion wives) re-discovered their non-sporting spouses. A record number of walkers and joggers were recorded in Central Park, New York city and many lakes and streams throughout the country saw fathers and mothers fishing with their sons and daughters with limited success.

Chiropractors had a rush of patients on Thursday who had suffered sprains and strains as they attempted to get off couches for the first time since last July's post-All Star day.

The event, much rarer than lightning strikes or multi-million dollar lottery winnings, was marked by a huge up-turn in fantasy league baseball and football trade activity according to the New York Stock Exchange.

Fortunately for over-paid players, sports owners, and their agents and attorneys, major league baseball returned Thursday with a full slate of games. The sun again set in the west that evening and as of Friday morning America's sports fans again had something other than politics to read and discuss.

Sports widows and widowers enjoyed their flowers and leftovers from their annual night out at the diner and muttered the words, "Wait 'til next year."

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