Archive for the ‘Sound Off’ Category

The School of Sportsmanship

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

images26Last month I posted on a widely reported story of a girls’ high school basketball game in which the final score was 100-0. I criticized the winning team’s coach for his disregard for sportsmanship and humility. Add to that the black cloud that has been cast over the sports world in recent weeks with drug scandals, arrests, etc., and it’s easy to become jaded and negative toward the world of sports in general.

But every now and then a story emerges that completely restores your faith in the ability of sports to bring people together and bring out he best in human nature. I came across such a story today.

On Saturday, Feb. 7,  Milwaukee Madison senior  and captain of the school’s basketball team, Johntell Franklin, lost his mother, Carlitha, only 39 years old, to a 5 year battle with cancer. His principal and coach, Aaron Womack Jr. was with Franklin at the hospital though his team was scheduled to play a game against DeKalb (Ill.) High School that night.

DeKalb had traveled more than 2 hours to Madison for the game and waited patiently an additional 2 hours as Womack rushed from the hospital to the school to coach his team.

“We were sympathetic to the circumstances and the events,” said DeKalb coach Dave Rohlman  in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We even told Coach Womack that it’d be OK to call off the game, but he said we had driven 2½ hours to get here and the kids wanted to play. So we said, ‘Spend some time with your team and come out when you’re ready.’”

Franklin understandably,  had indicated to his coaches that he would sit out that night’s game. After having a change of heart,  Franklin decided he wanted to play and arrived at the gym in the second quarter. But Franklin’s name was not in the scorebook because his coach didn’t expect him to be there.

Womack chose to put Franklin in the game despite a rule that required the referees to charge the team with a technical foul for putting a player in the game who was not on the roster. Knowing the situation, Rohlman told the referees that they did not want the call. 

Having no other choice but to follow the rules the referees charged Milwaukee Madison with a technical foul.

This is where the story takes an amazing turn.

“I gathered my kids and said, ‘Who wants to take these free throws?’” Rohlman said, recounting the game to the  Journal Sentinel. “Darius McNeal put up his hand. I said, ‘You realize you’re going to miss, right?’ He nodded his head.”

McNeal approached the free throw line and twice rolled the ball out of bounds in a gesture of amazing compassion and understanding.
“I did it for the guy who lost his mom,” McNeal told the newspaper. “It was the right thing to do.”
After the game, which Madison won, the two teams (who had already met twice previously) sat down together, as is their tradition, for pizza ”four kids to a pizza, two Madison kids and two DeKalb kids,” Womack told the Journal Sentinel.
In response to the game, Womack later wrote to the DeKalb Daily Chronicle,
“As a principal, school, school district staff, and community you should all feel immense pride for the remarkable job that the coaching staff is doing in not only coaching these young men, but teaching them how to be leaders…I’d like to recognize Darius who stepped up to miss the shot on purpose. He could have been selfish and cared only for his own stats [I hope Coach Rohlman doesn't make him run for missing the free throws].”
If you’re a parent who has ever debated over whether or not to include your kids in athletics this is precisely why you should. There is more to be learned on a football field, a basketball court or in a hockey rink than passing a ball, shooting a lay-up or perfecting your slap shot. This story reminds us all that we are lucky to have some amazing coaches out there that are wisely guiding young athletes and teaching them valuable lessons both in and out of the sports arena.

 

 

 

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Cop Out

Friday, February 13th, 2009

 

"Don't you know who I am?"

"Don't you know who I am?"

Check out the video of former U of Cincinnati basketball coach and current Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy being arrested last December.  

As if the arrest in itself weren’t shameful enough, Kennedy’s wife’s subsequent lawsuit against the cabdriver who her husband is charged with assaulting took this particular case to another level of messed up.

 

Oh, you didn’t hear? Coach Kennedy’s wife has sued the cabbie her husband allegedly punched because the stress over his arrest has caused Kennedy to lose his libido, or in legal terms, she is holding him liable for loss of consortium.

Assuming her husband is innocent (remember that whole innocent until proven guilty thing?) Kennedy’s wife showed no class, no restraint and no common sense or judgement by reacting to her husband’s arrest with a frivolous lawsuit.

Seriously, what could a cabbie in Cincinnati have to offer her for legal compensation for a lack of sex? Instead of responding with dignity and letting the justice system sort through the mess and prove her husband innocent she goes and decides to tie up the courts even further with this ridiculous lawsuit? 

Thankfully there is one bright spot in this whole mess and oddly enough it is perhaps the best one liner ever delivered by an arresting officer. 

When being placed under arrest, Kennedy plead for the police to let him go as he “was scheduled to be on ESPN” the following morning. He went on to tell the officer that his arrest would spark a “national incident”.

Unaffected by Kennedy’s attempt to get out of a sticky situation with the predictable “don’t you know who I am” defense, the officer casually responded, 

“You think we’ve never arrested somebody that’s made national media? We deal with the Bengals all the time,” said the officer.

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Worst Week Ever For Pro Baseball?

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

images-23Indictments, confessions and lawsuits, oh my. Hope you’re wearing boots because the crap that keeps piling up around major league baseball just got deeper.

An ex-girlfriend of baseball star Roberto Alomar claims that the athlete is suffering from full-blown AIDS and insisted on having unprotected sex with her during their lengthy relationship. The allegations against Alomar, a 12-time All-Star and Hall of Fame candidate, were leveled in a $15 million lawsuit filed by Ilya Dall.

According to Dall, Alomar, 41, learned he was HIV-positive in early-2006, but that the athlete long had reason to believe he might have been infected. Dall, who said she has tested negative for the disease, contends that she has suffered emotional damage and that her children may have been exposed to the virus. Dall claims she began having unprotected sex with Alomar in May 2002, and moved in with him in February 2005. The couple, who lived together until last October, ceased having unprotected sex after Alomar was diagnosed with AIDS, she contends.

I have a big problem with this one. First of all, he “insisted”? What was keeping her from walking away and telling him to get lost. Second, if her children were at risk of being emotionally damaged or she was so distraught over their potential exposure to HIV she wouldn’t have stuck around for 7 years. 

I’m sorry, I know women are supposed to stick together, power of the sisterhood, blah, blah, blah. But if Alomar is in as bad of shape that she claims he is, he may not have much time left. The complaint claims that Alomar’s symptoms included “purple skin, too sick and weak to walk, needed to be in a wheelchair at the airport, was foaming at the mouth, couldn’t swallow.”

Take into account the fact that she just left him in October, I think she may be looking to cash in before he checks out.

My question is, did Alomar did try to convince her to have unprotected sex with him knowing he was HIV positive but did not tell her of his condition? If that’s the case then he’s a criminal. Or, did they have unprotected sex and neither of them knew he was HIV positive and then once they did know he was infected he still tried to get her to have unprotected sex? As far as I can the later seems to be the case and she could have walked away at any time.

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Confessions of a Steroid Using Slugger

Monday, February 9th, 2009

images-15images-21images9In an entry on Curt Schilling’s blog, 38 Pitches, the former Red Sox slinger makes some good points on the issue of steroid use in baseball and, more specifically, on the outing and subsequent confession by A-Fraud that he did in fact use steroids from 2001-2003. 

First of all, Schilling gives A-Rod credit for doing what most others suspected of steroid use have failed to do, he fessed up and owned it. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens could face possible jail time, not because they may or may not have used steroids, but because if they did, they are guilty of purgery.

For arguments sake lets assume both Bonds and Clemens did take steroids. If they had told the grand jury the truth people would have been outraged and disappointed that two of baseball’s heroes took a short cut, but neither  would likely go to jail for using steroids.

A-Fraud will still always be linked to steroids but the story will eventually die down. The likes of Bonds and Clemens will continue to get the attention of the press because of the possible indictments that could be handed down over their false statements under oath. For players who want this whole scandal to just go away- if you did it, admit to it and then lets all move on.

Like Schilling I think Rodriguez made right in this particular decision. Here’s what Schilling had to say.

It doesn’t make him any less guilty, any less accountable or any less of a Yankee (subtle Yankee jab) but it’s refreshing as hell to see someone say “I f’d up, I made a mistake and I’ll have to deal with it”. He’s fricking human, he made a horrible choice and he’ll have to deal with it.

Do whatever you want, speculate on whatever you want but the guy ‘manned up’, admitted his mistake, that’s enough for me. Nothing we can do about it at this point but move on as fans and players.

Shilling doesn’t stop there. He goes on to call out MLB and the players association for letting this list of 104 positive test results to leak. When the players agreed to submit to the test in 03′ both MLB and the MLBPA gave their assurances that no one would be accountable for their test results, as there was no rule in baseball at that time banning steroid use. 

As it stands now A-Rod has been singled out from the list of positive results, which for him isn’t really fair. Maybe his result is the only one that the SI reporters could get multiple confirmations for, more likely, he is the biggest name of current players on the list thus his results will sell more magazines and get more press.

For guys who played during the 2003 season many have come forth and said that they would like the complete list of 104 names to be made public because until it is a doubt is cast over all of them.

The craziest thing of this entire steroid/HGH schamozzle??? Jose Canseco who spilled the beans early on (and profited from it via sales of his book, Juiced) turns out to be one of the most honest guys in baseball.

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Surprise! Another Steroid/Baseball Story

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

alex_rodriguezI can’t help but wonder if someday in the not-so-distant future will a day pass when there isn’t yet another MLB star being outed for using steroids or HGH?

Today’s big story? A-Fraud is back. According to a report on SI.com, 4 independent sources have confirmed that Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003 while playing for the Texas Rangers. Coincidentally, the same year he was awarded the league MVP.

Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco, Roger Clemons, Jason Giambi, Mark McGwire, and now Alex Rodriguez are just a few of the current and former MLB players that have been linked to steroid use.

I’m currently working on a post that addresses the bigger issue of steroids in baseball, but for today I’ll focus on A-Fraud (I thank Joe Torre everyday for providing me with that term!)

What a fall from grace…

I was living near Seattle when he was drafted by the Mariners at 18 years old. At that time he was the golden boy of Major League Baseball. He was young and good-looking, seemed to have a good attitude and he performed his job exceptionally well for such young man.

So well he nearly won the MVP title in his first full MLB season (1996). At that time he was a productive young member playing on a team of all-star vets like Ken Griffey, Jr. and Randy Johnson. Then Johnson and Griffey left town and he was the sole remaining superstar in the Emerald City.

That’s when it seemed to go to his head. After the 2000 season, A-Fraud signed the biggest deal in pro-sports history. A 10-year $252 million contract to play for the Texas Rangers. Now, I’m all for an athlete striking while the iron is hot. There are a limited number of years that a professional sports career can last and they owe it to themselves to make the most of it, so let me make it clear that my disdain for A-Fraud isn’t because he has been able to cash in on his success or that he hasn’t been loyal to one team.

My issue with him is that he, by several accounts, is a complete jackass. Once he signed that lucrative contract with the Rangers that sweet, charming kid who just happened to be a phenomenal baseball player changed.

Long before his fling with Madonna and this evidence on his alleged steroid use came to light his imaged had become quite tarnished. The biggest turning point for me?

Remember his children’s book, Out of the Ballpark? Rodriguez was all over the t.v. talk show scene promoting its release. He gushed about his kids and his wife. You would have thought he was such a dedicated, down-to-earth family man. Then just months later he got caught cozying up to a Toronto stripper while on a road trip.

When will athletes learn? By now we aren’t surprised to hear you’ve been caught in an extra-marital affair. But when you blab to anyone with a microphone or t.v. camera about what a great family man you are and how dedicated you are to your wife and kids it’s a little annoying when weeks later you get caught with your pants down.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m fully aware that your personal life is none of my business. But don’t publicly put yourself up on a pedestal and and then whine when we show interest when you fall off of it.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated (before the stripper scandal) A-Fraud had this to say,

“When people write [bad things] about me, I don’t know if it’s [because] I’m good-looking, I’m biracial, I make the most money, I play on the most popular team.”

News flash A-Fraud… People write bad things about you because you don’t conduct yourself with dignity and respect. If you give us ammo, we’ll use it.

For many fans who were willing to overlook his marital transgressions and hypocrisy, A-Fraud’s handling of his 2007 contract op-out was the last straw.

Add to that his rumored affair with Madonna, Joe Torre’s less-than appealing depiction of Rodriguez in his new book, and now this steroid controversy, I would be shocked if Alex Rodriguez’s reputation ever recovers.

Here is a 2007 interview with Katie Couric. Notice the twitch of his mouth and the frequent blinking? Some might say those are signs that someone isn’t telling the truth…

There is a good chance that by the time his career is said and done, Alex Rodriguez will have added to his list of MLBA records and firsts. Now the debate begins as to whether or not he should get credit for them because of steroid use.

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Phelps Fallout

Friday, February 6th, 2009

A week into the Michael Phelps Reefergate saga the dust is beginning to settle. USA Swimming has opted to suspend Phelps for three months and Phelps’ reaction reflects the maturity most of us had come to expect from him before the photos of him smoking pot were published.

“It’s not my decision. It’s theirs,” Phelps said of USA Swimming’s decision. “I have nothing to say, but if that’s they want to do, that’s their choice. It’s something that USA Swimming came up with. It’s fair. Obviously, for a mistake you should get punished.”

As I have stated in previous posts, I don’t judge Phelps for having fun or smoking pot. At 23, he is old enough to make that choice for himself. And he wasn’t doing anything that any number of other professional athletes have done or are doing. The problem is he didn’t have the good sense to do it discreetly.

The Kellogs company has announced that they have decided to drop their sponsorship of Phelps and that’s not the least of his worries. Richland County Sheriff, Leon Lott said earlier this week that prosecutors are looking into the possibility of pressing charges which could result in jail time for the multiple gold-medal winner.

That seems just a tad bit excessive to me. I would imagine that South Carolina authorities have more important crimes to investigate, though undoubtedly those wouldn’t get nearly as much press coverage.

There is an interesting blog posting by ESPN.com writer Pat Forde that is definitely worth a read, especially for parents. It addresses the very real issue of placing too much emphasis on athletes as role models. It’s a debate that has been swirling for years and this article hits right on target.

In my opinion there is nothing wrong with kids admiring athletes for their ability and performance. But when it comes to kids looking for role models, as parents, we should strive to fill that role for them.

Rather than pointing the finger at athletes who behave badly (and I truly believe they are the minority, most really are good role models) for setting a poor example, we should reflect on our own shortcomings as parents and try harder to connect with our children so that they naturally look up to for guidance.

For Phelps, he is experiencing the type of growing pains that we have all experienced as we mature, he just doing it very publicly. He’s taking the medicine handed down to him from USA Swimming like a man and I suspect that he’ll be back in competition and as dominant as ever by the time the World Championships hit Rome this summer.

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$10 Comp for Comcast Customers

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Comcast has very generously agreed to compensate viewers in Tuscon who unwittingly viewed 30 seconds of a porn flick during the 4th quarter of Sunday’s Super Bowl with a $10 credit on their next bill.

10 lousy bucks. Are they serious???

Not that any dollar amount is going to make up for the awkwardness and horror that must have ensued in thousands of Tuscon homes that evening but the least the company could do is recognize their error with an appropriate response. 

I would expect that they would compensate customers with the price of their February bill, you’d think it’s the least they could do.

I’m curious though. How did Comcast decide on the amount of $10? Perhaps it’s $1 per inch of giant schlong that swayed across television screens that night.

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New Rule for Anthem Singers

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

I know she probably isn’t the firsts and likely won’t be the last but I’m really disappointed to hear that Jennifer Hudson lip synced the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. 

I don’t care if the halftime act lip syncs or has their performance digitally enhanced, but if there is one song that deserves that the singer be willing to perform it au natural, live and in-person, it’s our National Anthem. (Oh, my goodness, I think I sound a little like Elizabeth Hasselback right now. Scary!!)

I propose a new rule. The Star Spangled Banner cannot ever be lip synced.  

We know Jennifer Hudson can belt out a tune in a high-pressure situation like she did on American Idol. What happened during the Super Bowl????

I was so proud of her performance when I heard it. Now, I’m still proud that she managed to get herself out there after the tragedy she’s been through but I’m irked that she didn’t do it live.

If you’re going to agree to sing the National Anthem you really should sing the National Anthem. I know she has a record to promote which is probably why she agreed to the whole Super Bowl thing in the first place, but after what she’s been through, if she hadn’t hit it out of the park I think most of us are compassionate enough to understand.

As it stands, just as I do with Ashlee Simpson, now every time I see Jennifer Hudson on t.v. singing, I’ll be looking for her her lips to be out of time with the sound that should be coming out of them.

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Give Me A Freakin’ Break

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

We live in a society in which there are two very severe problems on two completely opposite ends of a scale (no pun intended). Obesity is a killer, plain and simple. Too many people eat too much and do too little. On the other end of the spectrum we are obsessed with being thin and all too often this obsession results in unhealthy habits and ultimately eating and exercise disorders. 

Singer and girlfriend of Dallas Cowboy’s QB, Tony Romo, Jessica Simpson has been rediculed in the media this week for being too fat. Here is the picture that caused the stir over her weight gain:8445688312Now, granted I have seen Jessica look better. But I credit that more to her choice of wardrobe than an extra couple of pounds. Even if she has put on a little weight how can anyone look at this picture and say, “Whoa, she’s fat.”

And if the fact that people’s twisted idea of what is fat weren’t bad enough New York Post cartoonist Sean Delonas made this of it:01282009I’m all for having a good laugh at your own expense as long as the joke is funny, which this cartoon isn’t. Aren’t political and current events’ cartoonists supposed to use their art to subtly poke fun at the truths around us? The cartoonist fails horribly in this effort. 

I’ve never been a huge fan of Jessica Simpson but give the girl a break. She is not fat. Add to all of this the rumors that Tony Romo cheated on her and this probably ranks as a pretty crappy week for Miss Daisy Duke.

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Full-Contact Cheerleading?

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

 

You idiots had better catch me or I'll sue! You'll have to fork over your iPod, cell phone and the keys to your mom's old mini van that you drive to school everyday. That's right, drop me and they'll all be mine...

"You idiots had better catch me or I'll sue! You'll have to fork over your iPod, cell phone and the keys to your mom's old mini van that you drive to school everyday. That's right, drop me and they'll all be mine..."

Yesterday in Madison, Wisconsin, the state Supreme Court ruled that high school cheerleading is a contact sport.

A previous ruling had stated that cheerleading didn’t qualify as a contact sport because there is no contact between opposing players. But this ruling was overturned when the Supreme Court unanimously decided that “a significant amount of physical contact between the cheerleaders,” qualifies the sport as contact.

At this point you may be asking yourself why should I, or anyone for that matter, care?

Basically, it boils down to liability. If an athlete is injured playing a contact sport he or she cannot sue competitors, schools or insurance companies for compensation.

This entire case stems from an incident in which a former high school cheerleader fell off the top of a pyramid during a stunt and her spotter failed to catch her resulting in a serious head injury. As a result she sued the 16-year old boy who failed to catch her, the school district and the district’s insurer.

As ridiculous as it sounds I understand why the court ruled the way it did. In no way, shape or form does cheerleading fit inside our traditional definition of “contact” sport. But for the sole purpose of liability it must be considered as such.

According to the court, the 16-year old kid can’t be held liable because he only made a mistake or showed a lack of skill.  With the decision he could only be sued if he had acted recklessly.

For any of us who ever participated in actual contact sports it is tough to swallow the thought of cheerleading being considered among the ranks of football, hockey, rugby, etc.

Perhaps rather than using the term “contact sports” it would make more sense to include within the ruling all “contact and team sports”. This way athletes and schools that have contact team sports (ex., football), contact individual sports (ex., wrestling) and non-contact team sports (cheerleading) would all be protected under the law from litigation.

Plus as an added bonus the delicate sensitivities of us “real” contact athletes wouldn’t be too damaged.

 

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