There have been many stories coming from sports recently. Some participants have been unfairly deemed guilty of violations by association, some have been justifiably found guilty only receiving slaps on the wrist, and some try to use celebrity status as passes to get away with illegal/immoral behaviors. The same goes for people in music, movies, other genres of entertainment, and politics, but there are enough in sports to take up today's space. So here are some of my nominations, (purely my opinion), for the good, bad and ugly in the sports world:
The Good: Jim Thome, Ken Griffey Jr., Omar Vizquel, Peyton Manning, Dirk Nowitzki, Grant Hill, Abby Wambach (and all her USA teammates), Tim Tebow, Rory McElroy, and the Cleveland Indians ballplayers who gave money to teammate Jack Hannahan when his wife went into labor two months prematurely.
Hannahan needed to get from Boston to Cleveland (at 11 p.m. on Aug. 4, 2011) for the birth of his son. There wasn't a flight available until next morning. The entire team contributed and chartered a flight for Hannahan, costing about $35,000, covering flight and transportation after landing. Hannahan arrived at the hospital 15 minutes before son Johnny was delivered, at a little over two pounds. His wife became as relaxed as could be under the circumstances when Jack arrived. Both mom and baby did fine.
Other ''goods:'' players on professional/college rosters who work in communities, visit children in hospitals, sponsor organizations which provide food to families/individuals, give guidance to kids and tickets to those who might never have a chance to attend a game, and respond to community tragedies (i.e. hurricanes, floods, tornadoes). Also good in sports are fans of opposing teams respecting each other's freedom of choice to cheer for whomever they wish without harassment, players who sign autographs gratis, and everyone (at all levels) who play sports the way they should be played.
The Bad: Free agency, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, those associated with violations scandals at many colleges and high schools nationwide, John Calipari, Kelvin Sampson, Shawn Kemp, Ben Roethlisberger, Tiger Woods, Michael Vick, LeBron James (not for leaving, but the way he left), hockey players who ''head hunt'' on checks; baseball pitchers throwing fastballs at hitters' heads; those who take/took PEDs and then insult/insulted fans' intelligence by lying like 5-year-olds with chocolate on their faces denying they ''ate the candy;'' coaches and administrators who look/looked the other way regarding disciplining players or who don't/didn't discipline players for violations of college, high school, or team rules; and those who influence Little Leaguers to show up opposing pitchers by flipping their bat, admiring home runs before jogging around the bases.
The Ugly: Steelers James Harrison and Rashard Mendenhall (not because of how they play, because of what they say), Kellen Winslow Jr. (comparing football players to soldiers), Carlos Zambrano, Milton Bradley, Dwight Howard, Bryce Harper, fans who shout ''kill the umpire'' or any officials (knowing that officials, like players/coaches are not perfect), fans who harass fans of the opponent; worse yet, fan who become violent while tailgating before/after games (i.e. Dodgers fans who beat the Giants fan leaving him with brain damage, the Browns fan who, postgame, tackled a 6-year-old Jets fan in the parking lot, people who threw full beer cans at someone before a game, probably because they wore an opposing team's jacket - I was in Buffalo and saw this); Browns fans throwing beer bottles on the field, and so many athletes refusing to accept the responsibility of being positive role models to many impressionable youth.
Voice From The Bullpen
What about Delonte West? He signed a $14 million contract, played a year into that contract, then said he was broke so he applied for a job at Home Depot, a job someone trying to support a family might've really needed. (West couldn't play overseas during the lockout because he was on probation.) Lastly, Terrelle Pryor, who, after violating college rules, got a reprieve to play NFL football, but first had to serve a five-game suspension. He appealed said suspension because his attorney said pro and college sports exhibit oppression against players. Since when is making the kind of money pro athletes make or free tuition in college oppression? ARE THEY SERIOUS? If that's oppression, may I be smitten with it.
I love sports. I love to watch it live and on television. I loved my previous coaching/clinic experiences and am excited to return to coaching. I love officiating baseball and my involvement with the Browns Backers Worldwide. I loved watching my children play whatever sports they undertook, from age 5 through college. I'm fortunate to have a wife who allows me to have another love, sports. It's too bad sports seems to have escalated to more than an entertainment level, that in some cases some think it's bigger than life and more important than family, law, fair play and sportsmanship.
There are many more good, bad and ugly people and situations in sports than listed, but the bottom line is: perspective has taken a beating. There needs to be much more good than bad or ugly. Respect for games, opponents, rules, authority and each other will let good overwhelm bad and ugly combined. It needs to be taught; it needs to be promoted. Maybe then, sports will be what they were designed to be.