Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sad Week in Sports

Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, Philadelphia, PA...Image by cliff1066™ via FlickrThis week has been a sad week in sports.  There have been three major pieces of sports news that really bring home the reality of life in general as opposed to the relief from reality that sports usually provides for those of us that call ourselves "sports fans."

When I was much younger, I used to be a big boxing fan.  Back in the days when ABC's Wide World of Sports was a weekly Saturday afternoon fixture and they used to regularly show boxing.  This is way before ESPN hit the stage and before all major boxing events became expensive pay per view productions.

This week, the boxing world lost one of the all time great heavyweight boxers when Smokin' Joe Frazier passed away from liver cancer at the age of 67.  Frazier and Muhammad Ali fought in three of the greatest heavyweight matches of all time.  Ali beat Frazier two of the three bouts, but Frazier was the first man to defeat Ali in an epic 15 round decision to win the heavyweight title.

I guess I am a bit of an old school sports fan.  I tend to be a fan of athletes who display what I consider professionalism and a workman like attitude.  Nothing turns me off more that the "look at me" type behavior displayed by so many players who launch into elaborate celebration routines whenever they make a positive display.  That is why I liked Frazier so much more than the brashness of Ali. RIP Joe.

Another major news story broke this week in regards to the Penn State football program.  Former defensive coach Jerry Sandusky was indicted this week on charges that he molested and abused young boys through a charity he founded to help disadvantaged kids.  Talk about disgusting.  The allegations have led to the firing of legendary head coach Joe Paterno and other Penn State officials.

A graduate assistant told Paterno that he saw Sandusky raping a 10 year old boy in the showers in the Penn State facilities and that Paterno then reported the incident to his superiors.  At first, I felt he did what he should have by reporting it to his bosses, but the more I have thought about it, he should have reported it to the authorities.  I have no sympathy for him losing his job.

As far as Sandusky is concerned, if the allegations are true, there is no punishment to severe for the man.  There is nothing more disturbing that an adult taking advantage of and harming a child.  That is especially true if that child has been entrusted to the care of the adult that harms the child as in the case of these kids being entrusted to Sandusky's charity.

The last bit of news concerns a player for my Washington Nationals baseball team.  Wilson Ramos, the catcher for the Nationals, is an up and coming young star for the team.  Last season, he hit 15 home runs and had 52 RBIs and looks poised to be a building block of the team.

Ramos was born in Venezuela and was playing Winter League ball in his home country.  Earlier this week, he was kidnapped by 4 armed men.  Fortunately, the story ends well as Venezuelan authorities rescued Ramos and arrested suspects after a brief shootout.  Thankfully, Ramos was not injured during the exchange.

Sport should be a welcome respite from the cares and worries of our world.  Still, it is just sport.  Life itself is so much more important.  Sometimes the two get intertwined to remind us of that fact.
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