It's not as if the sporting world is populated with folks who relentlessly seek the moral high ground. Mohandas Gandhi wasn't much of an athlete and
his philosophy of non-violence certainly would not have gotten him very far in today's sporting world.
However, in recent days, it seems as if many in the sporting world are working feverishly to cede the moral high ground - such as it may be -
regarding issues in which they are involved. Take the NHL management and players. The players offer to cut existing salaries by 24% and put limits on
other kinds of escalators in the salary structure after spending three years telling the world how the owners were making gobs of money and just
wanted to make more. Were they lying all that time? Now the owners are poised to turn that deal down because it does not have "cost certainty" in it
meaning that they do not trust themselves not to go nuts in terms of signing players to new contracts. Translation: This is not only about economics;
it's about payback to the union and the players for past sins.
Then there is the latest LA Laker Soap Opera Episode. Kobe Bryant and Karl Malone have had a falling out over whether or not Malone "came on" to
Kobe's wife. Let's get something straight here; just as in Bryant's unfortunate Colorado incident, there are only two people on the planet who know
what was said in the exchange between Malone and Vanessa Bryant. Everything else is hearsay. But making this incident a public event takes an awkward
situation that might - just might - have been able to be defused by rational and sentient adults and turns it into a tabloid frenzy. Everyone involved
seems intent on getting down off that moral high ground faster and lower than everyone else. If I'm Phil Jackson, I'm sitting back somewhere and
sipping on a glass of Chateau Margaux 1966 and relaxing in my own special moment - which does not include any of these goofs.
Then there is Andre Rison - remember him? He just went to jail and is to stay there until he pays up on the $125,000 he owes in back child support for
his two teenaged sons. Evidently, he has not paid up since the summer of 2002 and has not seen his kids since then. It's not like he was particularly
busy during that time since his last NFL gig was in 2000 and he only joined the CFL Toronto Argonauts this season. Oh yeah, when the Argos signed him,
they said one of his roles would be as a mentor for the young receivers on the team. Well, as a leader it seems as if Rison is best equipped to lead
them down from the moral high ground and into the clutches of the gendarmerie.
Don't even get me started on Victor Conte. After seeing him doing his interview with 20/20, I know his lawyer is smart enough not to let this guy
testify at his own trial. He is so smarmy and so obviously smug in his amorality that he might wind up getting convicted of the OJ Simpson murders and
the Lindbergh baby kidnapping if he goes on the stand and "talks to the jury" for three hours.
By the way, do you think there is chance for a class-action suit against the NFL by people named Michael? The way I see it, head coaches Mike Martz,
Mike Holmgren, Mike Shannahan and Mike Tice could all wind up with a lot of time to "spend with their families" after this season ends. Of course,
Mike Mularkey in Buffalo and Mike Sherman in Green Bay seem safe in their jobs. Wait a minute, how about a discrimination suit against the NFL by
everyone not named Michael. Clearly, there is a disproportionate number of Michaels represented in the head coaching ranks in the NFL. Don't tell me
that over 18% of the male population in the US is named Michael. Clearly, there are some dark and sinister forces at work here...
Some folks are outraged by Jake Plummer's flipping of the bird to some fans in Denver. Frankly, I don't think that even registers on the scale of
asocial behavior by modern athletes, but that's just me. I believe that the problem is that the media fell in love with Jake Plummer back in college
and has raved about his successes - scattered though they have been - and have glossed over his failures for his entire NFL career. There are lots of
players who are better than their stats would indicate because of hidden factors within the games; Plummer is a player who is not nearly as good as
his stats would lead you to believe. I suspect that Plummer has come to expect that his failures should not be accompanied by any meaningful rebuke -
let alone any consequences. Recently, Shannon Sharpe got on him for his typical level of mediocrity and said that his nickname might better be Jake
the Fake instead of Jake the Snake. Now the fans are on him for taking a "top shelf" pay check and delivering "bar brand" performances. So, Jake got a
little testy and retaliated against heckling fans. Once again, in his typical fashion, he even expressed his anger/outrage/frustration in a mediocre
Speaking of Shannon Sharpe, I really like him as a studio analyst. His acidic tongue is refreshing. I remember last year while he was still in the
league and the great "Rush Limbaugh/Donovan McNabb Controversy" was swirling around, Sharpe had one of the best lines of the time. Sharpe said there
was no reason to give any credence to anything that Limbaugh said about football because "I don't know if Rush Limbaugh knows the difference between a
screen porch and a screen play."
It probably hasn't happened before but two of the five Heisman finalists - Alex Smith and Reggie Bush - played on the same high school football team
near San Diego. That team must have been pretty good, no? Before you get carried away about how that team may have been the greatest ever, remember
that Donovan McNabb and Simeon Rice were also high school teammates. That ain't too shabby either.
Here is an item I ran across recently:
"Flamboyant former NBA star Dennis Rodman, 43, is engaged to British model Alicia Douvall after a one-year courtship."
Excuse me? After a one-year courtship, she hasn't figured out that this guy is not of this Earth? Where's the betting line on the over/under for the
length of this marriage because I want to take UNDER...
Finally, I wonder if the Flax Seed Oil Marketing Cooperative will name Barry Bonds as their Man of the Year...
But don't get me wrong, I love sports...
Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon