The Bad News Bears. And Falcons. And Cavaliers. And Islanders. And…

It’s been a bad, bad month for sports.

Now, I’ve never been too impressed with sports. In fact, I kind of resented organized professional sports teams. I mean, I certainly am not athletic enough to play sports, unless eating six pieces of fried chicken in one sitting counts as an organized professional sport. And I don’t really have the mental capabilities to process the career statistics of every starting lineup on the New York Yankees since Roger Clemens ever set pitch to bat, which was approximately 2,000 years ago. So I viewed professional sports with the same amount of indifference I viewed snowboarding and HGTV: something latently interesting if everything else on the face of the earth became immediately inaccessible as a form of passive leisure and the participation of scantily dressed cheerleaders became more of a game-affecting contribution that the actual mechanics of the game.

Times change, of course, and so do I. I enjoy watching sports on occasion and will even make an effort to follow them, though my financial and mental investment is still pretty minimal if one makes the normal allowances for a personal involvement in

First off, of course, is Michael Vick, pending quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons. He has recently pleaded guilty to running a dogfighting ring, a practice I kind of thought went out with such things as leeching, indulgences, and Joe Namath’s chances of hooking up with a middle-aged reporter on live national television. Vick’s crimes not only displayed an ugly side of the NFL that seemed to had at last finally been tempered after years of violence and mayhem, excepting as always the Cincinnati Bengals. It also shone a bright, unwelcome light into a world of rape stands, canine executions, and, worst of all, the rampant violation of interstate wagering laws. It also highlighted Roger Goodell’s harsh new policies concerning personnel, amounting to the suspending of players for conduct unbecoming of a professional football player, which apparently means working more than six months out of the year and refraining from endorsing soup once your passer rating cracks about 90 or so.

While the NBA is known for the off-court antics of its players, it’s the on-court criminal mischief that is currently giving the sport some unwelcome news. There is mounting evidence that basketball referee Tim Donaghy bet on games, using his position as referee to fix games. He recently agreed to a deal, which appears to implicate over twenty fellow referees. Given the NBA’s reputation, it’s a bit of a shock that the only criminal gangs on the court are white, wearing striped jerseys, and are going to jail for wire fraud. Donaghy engaged in what is known as point shaving, a rather complicated (though not as complicated as figuring out the odds on a moneyline bet) style of fraud that no doubt has an enormous impact on the wages of Malaysian shoe factory laborers.

Of course, the biggest news in sports this past month was the career home run record broken by Barry Bonds. Reaching this record is, of course, a very difficult accomplishment to achieve for any man, attainable only because baseball is the only professional league to permit players to play regardless of talent until they reach the age of 65, at which point they reach free agency. Controversy abounds, as always, because of accusations that Bonds has used steroids. Granted, there’s accusations that pretty much everyone in major league baseball has used steroids, including but not limited to Kevin Costner and Chief Wahoo, but they aren’t trying to get in the record books. (Well, Costner is, “Most Movies Released By A Major Motion Picture Studio That Are Over Four Hours Long That No One Really Enjoys All That Much But He Won That Oscar So Let’s All Humor Him, K?,” but that isn’t really directly baseball-related.) It goes without saying that Bonds has a polarizing effect on baseball fans: either you think he’s a drug-injecting national-pastime-destroying stonewalling criminal, or you think he’s a drug-injecting, national-pastime-destroying, stonewalling criminal who is also a huge jerk. At the very least, the involvement of Bonds in the record chase has almost doubled the audience of major league baseball. Or, at least, I assume so. Both of them were away so I couldn’t ask.

Finally, there’s the participation of the entrants in the Tour de France. Several of the high-profile leaders in that race have been accused of doping to aid in winning the race. Leave it to cyclists, a niche subgenre if there ever was one, to come up with an incredibly pussyish way to cheat. While all kinds of endurance-enhancing drugs are passed from jersey to jersey within the cycling groupies (or whatever they’re called—I’m actually kind of afraid to find out), one of the more recent attempts to cheat is blood transfusion. By performing blood transfusions, as cyclist Alexander Vinokourov has been accused of, players can reoxidize their blood allowing them to presumably perform better at the races. For me, this is the epitome of competition. Any guy willing to undergo a blood transfusion just to win a kinda womanish non-competitive sport deserves to win something. What that something would be, I don’t know, but I’d like to place good money it involves whatever Chief Wahoo has in the trunk of his car.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: