Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Wild World of Sports

With child molestation's at Penn State, All Pro NFL stars committing murder, selling drugs, raping naive or gullible women, gay athletes stepping forward to be identified openly, racism being allegedly exposed and college athletes potentially becoming employees of the scholarship institutions, the once "The Wide World of Sports" has become the "The Wild World of Sports".

When Jerry Sandusky was exposed as a child molester, we thought
we had reached one of the lowest points of sports scandals, especially at such a storied institution of higher learning, with its' football rich tradition and near five decade Hall of Fame Coach, Joe Paterno.  But before Jerry Sandusky could truly acclimate himself to his  new State Funded residence, we were shown the real side of the New England Patriots All-Pro Tight End, Aaron Hernadez who was indicted on Murder charges after evidence has linked him to an execution style murder of a once friend.  Hernadez has subsequently been indicted on on additional murder charges involving drive by shootings in 2012, along with recent Assault and Threat charges for incidents occurring in jail where he is being held without bail since 2013.

Missouri Defensive End, Michael Sam has come forward as the first openly gay player drafted
into the NFL. Drafted recently in the 7th round, as the 249th player picked overall, was projected to be a first to third round prospect prior to the press conference revelation by Sam just weeks after the end of the college season and prior to the annual prospect evaluation session, the NFL Draft Combine.  Sam's public confession has motivated Jason Collins to now be recognized as the NBA's first openly gay player, recently signing a one year deal to play for the Brooklyn Nets.  The domino affect then prevailed as UMass Point Guard, Derrick Gordon, went public with his alternate sexual preference, admittedly inspired by Jason Collins' return to the NBA outside the closet

Northwestern University is known to be one of the best academic institutions in America with a tremendous academic resume for its' "student athletes" as well, has been the target of the first case of "collective bargaining" by athletes.  In a recent regional ruling, the NLRB said that "student athletes" on the football team are basically employees and therefore should be given the right to petition for a players' union and initiate an official vote to determine the level of interest by the returning football players.  The case and ruling is currently under appeal, but the vote has taken place and the results are pending the outcome of the appeal by the NLRB at National Headquarters.  This ruling is expected to come back this summer.  Speculations have been both positive and negative of the impending result of the players vote tally, as the rules require the tally to remain dormant until the final ruling.  This action as broadened the debate on the "student athletes", their rights, potential compensation, benefits and scholarship terms & commitments.  Even a token "feed athletes all they can eat" proviso has been immediately implemented by the NCAA, as this matter remains in the regulatory process.  Either way, it has caused the executive committee of the NCAA to take proactive measures to address some of the restrictive rules that govern college sports and its athletes, along with potential benefits to athletes to combat the public scrutiny that has increased and intensified with the former events.

In Los Angeles, Clippers' owner Donald Sterling was recorded telling his personal assistant and alleged girlfriend, V. Stiviano, that he would appreciate it if she would not post pictures of her and her Black friends on social network sites.  This request appeared to be inclusive of a recent photo of her taken with Magic Johnson and Matt Kemp, both African Americans.  In an unprecedented rapid response to the recording released by TMZ, of a recording fully believed to be Donald Sterling in September 2013, some 7 months ago, the new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has banned the owner for life and has requested the league's ownership vote to have him removed as owner.  A request made by Silver, the African American Community and the NBA Players Association that may be easier said than done. Many legal dynamics will continue to make this qualify as a "Wild World of Sports". Now the public is subjected to a series of insults and sound bites between Sterling and Magic regarding each other through national media circles.

All of this goes on as we watch greater travesties occur on the court and around the court.  Such as bad officiating, bad coaching, poor plays by super stars, inconsistent play by championship teams. Qualified coaches are being fired, sub standard coaches are being recruited, while recycled coaches are taking vacancies.  Former legends desiring to coach are being overlooked and guys we are barely know are getting 4-5 year million dollar deals to do something they to have never done, in a league of multi-millionaire players who need mentors and leaders with experience and guidance to be the best they can be.  But instead we get the "buddy-buddy plan" and "trial and error" hires for coaches in the best league in the world.

The NBA playoffs have been full of highs and lows, big plays and botched plays, poor coaching, bad calls and intense moments.  But the playoffs have been consumed with matters off the court, rather than within the court.  Social media has turned sports from competition to a zeal for the dramatic scandal, rapes, murder, infidelity, racist comments, domestic disputes, free agency and college drafts.  We look for more sports star failures than the rookie and undrafted successes.  We take personal shortcomings of professionals and turn them into social infractions.  We challenge the media for complete details, then when we see too much, we blame them for exposing our children to things they don't need to see.

We support our athletes when it suits us to go against the establishment and then we crucify them when they reveal their imperfections consistent with those of a local peer or neighbor.  We want them to be heroes for our youth, but we fail to see them as mortal humans who are just as vulnerable as any other citizen, just with a higher average income.  Most of these athletic warriors have less education and maturity than the fans that can afford the tickets to attend their games.

If Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Dennis Rodman's gambling, along with Ray Lewis' murder trial, or Lawrence Taylor and Magic Johnson's excessive sex drive were a part of the sports world today, a few key names in that list could not be prominent in their respective professions.  What did Tiger Woods do that was more morally unacceptable than the pattern of behavior of our stars of the past.  Who appointed the public to establish our recent isolated and discriminatory zero tolerance of gay, racially divisive, sexually driven, domestically violent, and morally challenged athletic celebrities. These behaviors are frequent and common in the motion picture and entertainment industry that concurrently entertains and consumes our youth and its' parents, but we only make light of the sheer existence in social discussions and often comical chats.

Somehow, athletics has become our medium to attack social issues that are totally unaffected by the results of their penalties and consequences extended to these athletic personalities.  Our focus should be next door or our back yards, not in the fantasy lives of the limited fraternity of professional sports, with an approximate population of 18,000, with a gross income of over $30 billion annually.      

ABC once captured our nation's favorite past times as "The Wide World of Sports", with a slogan of "Spanning the Globe", never realizing that information technology would convert this extravagant entertainment outlet into "The Wild World of Sports", and more like "Scanning the Gutter" full of scandals, crimes, social revelations, PED's fueling worldwide social and domestic gossip.   Sport media personalities have become more in tuned to the social aspects of sports than the mechanics of the games, the tactical schemes, player performances and actions between the lines.  Why can't we just........Play Ball!!

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