Friday, July 27, 2007

Tracking the sports scandals

Considering little of sporting importance is supposed to happen in July, it's a great month for a vacation, which is why nearly everyone except me takes one.

Only this July has turned out like no other. Indictments, drug scandals and humiliated commissioners -- and no, not talking about Barry Bonds. Hell, Barry looks like a Boy Scout compared to Michael Vick and Tim Donaghy, and that's just the top of the list.

Here's a few quick hits of the month nearly passed. With so much foolishness, maybe all of sports should consider taking some time off:

• The irony of the NBA's crooked referee scandal is that the league's critics have been bashing it for years because its players are too bold, too brash and, let's face it, too black for some people's comfort.

And then it's the clean-cut white guy who ruins the whole thing.

• There's no excuse for dog fighting, but why doesn't everyone get even remotely as outraged about all the pro athletes who beat up women? That's practically an every-week crime.

• I all but gave up on cycling some time ago -- great sport, lots of cheating; even Lance Armstrong was implicated yet cleared -- but how does anyone remain a fan when UCI president Pat McQuaid says the following about Tour de Farce leader Michael Rasmussen: "It would be better if somebody else were to win. The last thing this sport needs is more speculation about doping."

Rasmussen was removed from the race Wednesday.

• And why was anyone surprised by Gary Player's claim that some PGA pros are on the juice, too? People cheat in every walk of life -- religion, charity, government, marriage. Why would golfers tempted by millions of dollars be the only honest bunch left out there?

• Then there's the poor NHL, which can't even get a good scandal going.

• I ruefully admit to watching part of one segment of "Who's Now?," the SportsCenter series so ridiculously bad it makes Chris Berman continuing to ruin the home run derby seem reasonable.

Matt Leinart was up against Tiger Woods (I think) and, I swear, one of Leinart's attributes was that he may have hooked up with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. This was cited as a positive. And Mike Wilbon went along with it. I saw this happen. Really.

That's a wretched two minutes of my life I can never do over.

In August -- maybe even before we exit July -- Bonds will break Aaron's home record, Tom Glavine will get his 300th win, and some of the focus will turn to baseball playoffs and the anticipation of football season. It has to get better for the sporting life -- doesn't it?

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