bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Bad behavior by athletes continues to take lives

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What is it that causes people to get behind the wheel after they have been drinking? I know that decision-making skills deteriorate as you drink more and more, so I guess it is not a shock that a drunk person would make the atrocious decision to drive in that condition, but it still amazes me how often it seems to happen. In the world of sports, it seems to be even more common than elsewhere, although that is likely because it gets publicized, whereas you rarely hear about the schmuck-down-the-street’s DUI unless you are friends with the neighborhood gossip. The same thing goes for gun offenses, as they seem to run rampant among professional athletes. A week after football player Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend and himself with a gun, Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jerry Brown was killed when the car he was riding in flipped over while speeding. His teammate, Josh Brent, was driving and was quite drunk at the time.

These tragedies were entirely avoidable, and that is the dilemma that the NFL and the other leagues face. They can’t police their players at all times, of course, but something needs to be done. The very nature of the job puts these players into the spotlight. Many players over the years have tried to disavow the fact that they are role models to kids everywhere, but there is really no way around it. Every kid wants to play professional sports. They may not be able to get there, but as they get older, the culture of guns, alcohol, and driving fast is something that is all too accessible. When I was in high school, my favorite hockey player, Flyers goalie Pelle Lindbergh, died after wrecking his car while drunk. Six years later, Phillies outfielder Lenny Dykstra wrecked his car and injured himself and teammate Darren Daulton while driving drunk. The same story has played out time and time again. Gun violence has been equally prevalent over the years, with deaths, injuries, and arrests occurring every year. A quick search for the term “DUI” here on When Falls the Coliseum turns up nine Bad Sports, Good Sports columns from 2012 alone (not counting this one). That is only the ones I have bothered to mention, too, and I am sure there have been more.

So how should the NFL, for one, battle against this? I imagine there is some education that happens, but it clearly is not enough. They can’t assign babysitters to every one of these guys, and they have no legal way to really monitor them. Contracts generally already have clauses that involve sanctions of various kinds for legal trouble, and that does not seem to be doing the trick. I wonder if they can legally install those things that keep you from starting your car until you blow into them and your breath is found to be below a specified limit for blood/alcohol level (they’re called Ignition Interlock devices). I am not sure how they could retrofit that into the existing player contracts, and it would undoubtedly be illegal to do it without it being in the contracts, but I guess it could be a solution going forward. Then again, maybe I am nuts.

Bad sports, continued:

2) The NBA’s New Orleans Hornets are set to change the team name to the Pelicans next year. Yes, the Pelicans. Was “The Weenies” already taken?

3) There seems to be an epidemic of people falling great distances at stadiums this year. This time, it happened at the Oakland Coliseum on Thursday during the game between the Raiders and the Broncos. A man fell from the upper deck and is in serious condition. Recent reports suggest he may have jumped intentionally.

4) Tommy Tuberville has left his position as head football coach at Texas Tech to take the same position at Cincinnati. Is it just me, or is that a really weird move?

5) The UCLA and Texas basketball teams played a neutral site at Reliant Stadium on Saturday. The place seats over 45,000 people. These two big-time programs would be enough of a draw to pack the place, right? Umm, no. The paid attendance was less than 2800. That’s embarrassing.

6) A Lambeau Leap is far more effective when the people in the stands catch you. Someone might want to tell that to Lee Smith of the Buffalo Bills. Check out the video.

7) The pathetic Arizona Cardinals lost to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday by a score of 58-0. The Cardinals turned the ball over nine times and amassed a mere 154 total yards in the game.

Good sports:

1) Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, known as “Johnny Football,” won the Heisman Trophy on Saturday. He is the first freshman to ever win the coveted award.

2) Lionel Messi, the great soccer player from Argentina who plays for Barcelona, broke a 40-year-old record for goals in a season on Sunday, scoring his 86th goal in a match against Real Betis. The record was previously held by Gerd Muller of Germany and was set in 1972.

Bad sports, good sports appears every Monday

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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