Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sports In 2011 Was The Year In Hell

When we look back at the sports landscape in 2011 ... it won't be a happy thought to most of us. This was a very, very, very bad year for sports as a whole.

Don't get me wrong. There were some great moments (Game 6 of the World Series could be the best game ever played in the Fall Classic) and great performances. Congrats to all the champs and all the greatness that happened over the past calendar year.

Still, 2011 clearly threw down the shroud that surrounds the dark side of sports.

CHILD SEX SCANDALS: This is the most gut-wrenching story to come out of 2011. Yeah, sex scandals have happened before and even the horror of child sexual abuse has been in the news in years past. But the cover-ups and the actions of the "adults in charge" was really shocking. It wasn't age or on-field performance that ended Joe Paterno's career ... it was sitting idle while a member of your staff was raping young boys on campus and under the umbrella of Penn State University. It was the administrators that sat on all this information for years and years without anything happening. It ruined the school and those legacies and ... worst of all ... the lives of all those boys who suffered this abuse while no one cared to help them.

We are supposed to trust these people to have the best interests of our kids when we send them to play athletics and attend these schools yet they don't have the moral compass to stop raping boys when they know it exists? It is really scary.

Even more scary when you realize that people like Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim will publically come out and chastise you for bravely stepping forward and facing your accuser. Boeheim staunchly defended his coach and friend without once thinking about what these young men who also worked for the school. He retracted it all but the damage is done. No matter how Hall-Of-Famey you may be, we can't trust you to do the right thing.

With the court cases and more details waiting to emerge, this story will be promptly in the headlines for the next few years.

DAN WHELDON: We were reminded, yet again, the dangers of motor sports haven't disappeared with all the advancements in safety. Early in the Indy Car season ending race in Las Vegas, Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon died in a fiery 15-car crash. I know we forget just how much our athletes put on the line but something like this haunts you in just how close that line may be from life and death. All for our amusement, endoresments and money.

LABOR WARS: 2011 will also be known as the year of Labor Strife. The NFL started it with their lockout which swiftly gripped the nation ... even though we missed no regular season games. With the season almost ending, can you even remember what they were fighting about? What has really changed? Still, it was a summer filled with people is suits jockeying in front of microphones instead of watching workouts, free agency and training camp.

In the NBA, it was a lot worse. Not only did it get nasty, but it got downright sickening. From David Stern's doomsday reports all the while he is trying to threaten the players to players signing all over the world as quick cash grabs. When we finally got to a deal (which cost the fans 240 games), no more than an hour later do we see a blockbuster deal (Chris Paul to the Lakers) that was swiftly vetoed by Stern because it looked bad on him. Stern then sent Paul ... who was on the league-owned Hornets ... to the Clippers, one of the historic laughingstocks of the NBA. Paul, by the way, was one of the high profile players very active in labor talks.

BCS GOES BS AGAIN: The BCS has gotten completely out of hand. Not only do we have a regular season rematch for the BCS title game, but it features a team that didn't win their conference OR THEIR FREAKIN' DIVISION! Unfair if you are LSU that Alabama could beat you on a neutral field and to be a champions when you beat them on their turf, won their conference and won their division.

Whatever, but what about the rest of the BCS? How does the ACC get two teams in the BCS when they don't even have a team ranked in the Top 10? Boise State sits at No. 7 and can't get a berth. Seriously, the No. 6 (Arkansas), No. 7 (Boise State) and No. 8 (Kansas State) can't get a BCS berth but No. 11 (Virginia Tech) and No. 13 (Michigan) can? Why even have this stupid poll when it really doesn't do anything?

LOSING JOE FRAZIER: Look, athletes die like the rest of us and that will always be the case. But Frazier's passing reminded us (a) just how far the sport of boxing has fallen in the decades since and (b) the damage done to guys like him and Muhammad Ali. Warriors in the ring that had the rest of their lives zapped away.

LOSING DAVE DUERSON: The former Bear died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He also offered him brain up for research into the effects of football related head injuries on players. Hopefully this research will help try to further safety measures in all sports.

LOSING DEREK BOOGAARD: He may not be known that well in the non-hockey world, but the 28-yr old enforcers death needs to shine a huge light on what this role in hockey is doing to the minds of these guys. Boogaard was the the youngest of three recent deaths by enforcers under the age of 40 years old.

LOSING AL DAVIS: Love him or hate him, there will never be another owner like him in any sport. Ever. And that's a bad thing.

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