By Dan Shanoff
Page 2 columnist

Was it just a few years ago that an athlete's biggest consumer-products thrill was to be featured on a box of whole-wheat cereal? A new generation of star has dismissed "You better eat your Wheaties" in favor of "It's in the game," or one of any number of catchphrases associated with sports video games.

Where have you gone, Mary Lou Retton? These days, players don't vault to superstardom without being on the box of a video game -- or, at least, a role in one of the ubiquitous and highly entertaining (yet indistinguishable) TV ads promoting the new releases.

What's the real sign that Jason Kidd was robbed of the NBA MVP last season? EA inked him as the front man of their upcoming high-profile NBA Live 2003 game. Cover choices represent corporate strategies: Industry-leading EA went with the safe pick -- Marshall Faulk -- on their blazingly hot Madden 2003; upstart 989 Sports picked the nouveau riche Tom Brady. "Q ratings" soar when a player is associated with a game that becomes popular.

For more on what's hot (and what's not) this week, if it's in the game, it's in the list:

What's Hot, What's Not this week
Category Hot Not
Hot(head) commodity
Lou Piniella

Buck Showalter
All credit to Martz, all blame elsewhere Marc Bulger Kurt Warner
K-Rod (Francisco)

A-Rod (Alex)
Must-have WR accessory Sharpie pen 'Do rag
Knick punchline Antonio McDyess Latrell Sprewell
Nickname past its use
"Big Hurt"

"The Glove"
Unbeaten teams to watch Air Force, N.C. State Notre Dame, Bowling Green
Bad officials

Big Ten
Missed field goals Wide left Wide right
Grass-roots tour Skateboarding Street basketball
Bengals biggest problem Breach of county contract
for failure to field a
competitive team
Corey Dillon's ridiculous retirement talk

NFL must-have jersey Alternate colors
coming soon
The one your team wore last week
For your kids
Sports-themed LEGOs

High-school golfers Girls Boys
Reason for Florida football flop Can buy offensive playbook breakdown on VHS Spurrier left cupboard bare
Chris Simms Does New Jersey
have a CFL team?
"Still has tools to be an NFL QB"
How to deal with Andy Rooney Ignore him -- he's ignorant and irrelevant Dignify his idiocy with comment
Obvious Heisman-foreshadowing moment
Seneca Wallace's
sidewinder TD scamper

Ken Dorsey's sideline "Please: Wide-something!" prayer
Teams to beat Wild cards Division champs
Managerial prospect Willie Randolph David Wells
'84 Tiger that Trammell's still missing Jack Morris Willie Hernandez
Weekend flick "The Ring"
(original Japanese edition)
"White Oleander"
Big question in SoCal "How are you going to
pitch to Barry Bonds?"
"How's Shaq's toe?
Expectations about Tiger Woods Get over it -- he is not
going to take stands
Leader for change at Augusta
Chicago QB controversy Jim Miller
vs. Chris Chandler
Jay Williams
vs. Jamal Crawford

Dan Shanoff is a columnist for Page 2. His "What's Hot, What's Not" trend-spotting list appears Thursdays. Got inside scoop on an up-and-coming trend? Want to declare something passé? Send this glimpse of your hipness to