What I Learned From the Olympics

August 16, 2012

Jamaicans are fast, but Usain Bolt is cheating the fans and himself.  China rules fringe sports.  Great Britain really was great this time. I never thought about Gabby Douglas’ hair until she won gold.   USA is still the kind of basketball.  If we lose now and then so what!  The best players are American.  That won’t change anytime soon.    Image


The Steroid Cops: No Justice at All

December 29, 2006

A ruling by a US Court of Appeals panel will now open up a can of worms that was promised to be sealed. The names of more than 100 or so major league baseball players who apparently tested positive for steroids may eventually be publicly revealed despite a promise that the test results of all of those who participated in the voluntary steroid testing program several years ago would remain anonymous.

It makes you wonder what or who is it that federal prosecutors are really after. Are they really pursuing justice? Do they really want to stamp out steroids in baseball and other sports? Or are they simply conducting a witch hunt that they hope will lead to an indictment of Barry Bonds in particular and other players in general? In prosecutors’ apparent quest for Bonds, dozens of players who expected privacy have now been betrayed. As of this writing the players union, as expected, is appealing this ruling, but the message is clear. Promises mean nothing. If that promise meant anything baseball commissioner Bud Selig would join the union in objecting to this ruling. After all it was MLB, i.e. the commissioner, that had promised secrecy. As things stand now, why should players ever trust the commissioner and the baseball establishment again?

Troubling to me are the many other silent voices besides the commissioners office. Where is the outrage? It appears to me we are fast becoming a people who seemingly tolerate anything and refuse to stand up to injustice if it suits our objectives. It should not matter where you stand on the steroid problem in sports. In America there is a right and a wrong way to do things and this is wrong!

Our legal system mandates that evidence obtained illegally is thrown out, even if it means the accused goes free. It is a founding principle of our justice system. In this case the seizing of the annoymous test results are the equivalent of illegally obtained evidence. And as such the test results should not be used. Prosecutors should try something else within bonafide legal bounds to make their case.

We can only hope that in pursuit of whatever it is they are after, prosecutors and judges refrain from any abuse of power. So called justice sought and obtained illegally is not justice at all.


The Elephant in the Room

December 19, 2006

The NBA handed down suspensions yesterday for Friday night’s brawl at Madison Square Garden. Fifteen games for the Nuggets’ Carmelo Anthony. Ten game suspensions each for J.R. Smith and Nate Robinson. Mardy Collins of the Knicks the instigator, is suspended for six games. Four game and one game suspensions were assessed to others. A total of seven players from both teams will lose significant game checks and court time for their respective roles in the melee.

When NBA commissioner David Stern takes action he comes down hard. Stern is widely considered the most effective commissioner in sports with his near dictatorial powers, 10 million dollar salary and an unmatched ability to keep his players in line when they embarrass polite society.

Stern takes action because he sees clearly the “elephant in the room”. He knows all too well that the “elephant in the room” remains race, whether anyone else wants to honestly deal with that fact or not. The NBA’s African American players simply cannot make a scene, let alone come to blows without incurring the wrath of columnists, psychologists and anthropologists.

The image of black men fighting – outside of a boxing ring – is just too scary for most of America to deal with. These “thugs” as some would call them are supposedly a threat to the youth who look up to them and a disgrace to a society that barely acknowledges them unless they are in a uniform or on stage providing entertainment. This is why the great sports master – Stern – has intervened to insure his young men act right, talk right and play well with others.

While 2007 looms, nearly seven years into a new millenium, the fears presented by race still linger. We are still impacted by a centuries old lack of compassion and true acceptance.

African American young men remain the nation’s least educated, least employed and most jailed group of citizens. They also remain the least understood. Too many of them believe sports and entertainment are the only viable legal options to obtaining the “American Dream”. And for too many fans, uniforms and stage gear are the only things that seem to fit the stereotyped notion of what a successful black man should look like.

Thus, the problem is ours – to get over, once and for all. All of us. From the players who act out, to the authority figures who crack down, to the fans who seem to expect nothing better, we all need to acknowledge the elephant in the room. Because until we do we will never be able to deal with it.


Memo to T.O. – Just Shut Up and Play Football

December 16, 2006

At some point we will all get it. Eventually we’ll have no doubts that T.O. is poison. But in the meantime we still hope its not as bad as it seems. But here’s the latest.

As the Cowboys fight to make the playoffs Terrell Owens insists that the spotlight shine on him. In his most recent lunatic utterance T.O. laments that someone inside the Cowboys is a “snitch” for disclosing his behind the scenes foolishness, which he suggests has contributed to the passes he’s dropped and his overall lack of focus. He also says that he doesn’t pay attention to what Coach Bill Parcels is saying. And on and on and on. I usually wonder what the hell T.O. is talking about. I also question why I’m even listening. But I do listen and I do look. T.O. is the ultimate human car wreck.

Everywhere Terrell Owens goes he complains and whines as if someone owes him something. I say all the Cowboys owe T.O. is his multi-million dollar contract. What Owens owes the Cowboys is an adult and professional attitude – something he has seemingly yet to comprehend. Why such a gifted athlete needs to act out this way is a mystery. I doubt even he knows what’s troubling him.

Why should we care? I’m having a tough time justifying that myself. Despite his poisonous actions and foolish talk I still believe most fans, myself included, want to appreciate Owens’ unique skills. But we also want him to just shut up and play football.