For those of us who like to read the sports pages daily as a sort of panacea to the gore and tragedy of the front pages, itâ€™s been one editorial after another editorial lately. Why have the pundits of sports relegated their columns to opinions rather than game scores and free agent signings? Because the cheaters and beaters are stealing the headlines. Each of the major (and a few of the minor) sports in our country has been rocked recently by embarrassing and illegal developments by its participants.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig is following Barry Bonds, who has admitted before a grand jury to using performance-enhancing products unwittingly, around the country while he attempts to break Hank Aaronâ€™s lifetime homerun record (pre-steroid era). Barryâ€™s personal trainer Greg Anderson isnâ€™t able to accompany his most-accomplished athlete because he is currently in jail for refusing to testify about what Bonds did and didnâ€™t know concerning those supplements. Loyalty has its price. I wonder what Andersonâ€™s is?
Football commissioner Roger Goodell, who has already shown himself to be a no-nonsense enforcer of league rules concerning personal behavior by suspending NFL players for their off-field criminal infractions, has advised Atlanta Falcons star quarterback Michael Vick to stay home from training camp while his legal problems are resolved in the courts. Vickâ€™s offense: running a high-stakes, dog-fighting operation out of one of his houses and murdering his own dogs who were deemed less-than-qualified fighters by means of hanging, electrocuting, and body-slamming. He sounds like a nice guy.
National Basketball Association commissioner David Stern has found out that one of his referees Tim Donaghy has a gambling problem. Not only did Donaghy bet on games in which he officiated, he is accused of shaving points in those games to fix the results for mafia associates. Donaghy makes Pete Rose smell like a rose.
Not to be outdone by the Americans, Europeâ€™s Tour de France has once again been hit with a doping scandal. Fan favorite Alexandre Vinokourov of Kazakhstan, who recently won two stages of the cycling worldâ€™s greatest annual event, has tested positive for blood-doping. Really? Anyone surprised in a sport so rich in the history of chemical enhancement?
On the other side of the probability spectrum, the Professional Golfers Association has been jolted by former player Gary Playersâ€™ recent comments that â€œat least ten playersâ€ on the tour are using performance-enhancing drugs. Player canâ€™t confirm if itâ€™s steroids or HGH (human growth hormone). But the PGA doesnâ€™t test for either, so they can neither confirm nor deny.
And finally, former world champion surfer Sunny Garcia, who got out of federal prison in April after serving three months for income tax evasion, was able to compete this week at the U.S. Open of Surfing at Huntington Beach. Because he is still under house arrest, he wore an electronic monitoring device on his ankle. Who knew those things were waterproof?
Wow, what a week in professional sports. I guess thereâ€™s no avoiding the gore and tragedy even on the sports pages. And all I wanted was fun and games. You knowâ€”a little recreational reading.
Copyright © 2010 Mark Barkawitz
A Disturbing Week In Professional Sports
Copyright © 2010 Mark Barkawitz
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