A few weeks ago I said I hate July because of it’s boring sports schedule. Now, not only is July boring, but it’s full of horrible stories in most of the major sports leagues.
There’s the Mike Vick dogfighting case in the NFL.
There’s the NBA referee fixing games in a betting ring with low level mobsters.
There is Barry Bonds about to break the all time home run record, but under a cloud of suspicion of steroid use.
I usually don’t like to dwell on the negatives in the world of sports but these stories are too big to ignore.
I’ve already touched on the Barry Bonds issue. It’s sad that a moment that should be one of the great in the rich history of America’s past time is going to be, at best, a very mixed emotion celebration. There’s no doubt Bonds is one of the greatest baseball players of all time and there is just as much no doubt that he is one of the biggest jerks to play the game and that he took “something” to stay on top for as long as he has. While I personally don’t care if he did or didn’t take “something,” most of the nation seems to and they aren’t going to forgive him for it. And that’s too bad. It’s going to cast a big shadow on what could have rivaled Cal Ripkin’s most consecutive games played streak and Mark Mcguire’s 62nd home run (which has it’s own shadow now) as the greatest moments in all of baseball.
The Mike Vick story was turned up a notch Monday night when Commissioner Goodell told Vick to stay away from the Falcons training camp. That probably was the best thing for the Falcons since now they don’t have to take any action yet, but it might be one of the worse things for football. Vick was one of, if not, the most popular player and now he is all but convicted of the horrific act of dogfighting. Training camp should be a time of stories where teams are full of hope. The new season brings new dreams and everyone is, at least figuratively, on level ground. Instead all the NFL headlines are about Vick killing dogs. He might not have ever killed on himself, but he allowed them to be killed and buried on his property. Unless there are some facts that haven’t come out yet clearing Vick of these charges, and I don’t know how there could be when at least four people have come forward placing Vick in the middle of this, Vick may never play football again. As a Browns fan, I would be really pissed off at the organization if they signed Vick after he is undoubtedly released from Atlanta. I don’t see any organization wanting to take on the negative criticism that would follow signing Vick. As sad as it is, Vick may never play in the NFL again.
At least Vick’s crimes, has appalling and gruesome as they are, they didn’t affect what he did on the field or the outcome of any games. The same can not be said for Tim Donaghy and the NBA. When news first broke that an NBA official had bet on games he officiated and could have possibly made calls to swing the outcome, I didn’t think it was that big of deal. As more and more comes out on Donaghy, I’m realizing how big of story this is. Reports are saying Donaghy is going to name names of others involved in the scandal. If players and other officials are, this will be the biggest damage to any sport, ever.
I’m going to bet that before he can name any other people involved, he will end up at the bottom of a lake. If the Mafia is really the ones behind this, they won’t let him speak. They’ll get to him first and shut him up the only way they know how.
And there has to be other people in on it besides low level mobsters. After a game when Donaghy made a few bad calls and it happened repeatedly, his partners would have to get suspicious, I would think.
NBA officials probably get the most heat from fans of any officials in any sport. They are seen as giving superstar treatment to superstars and no one can as easily control the game as an NBA ref. Donaghy officiated Game 3 of the Suns-Spurs series and, from what I’ve read, made some awful calls that went the Spurs way. The Spurs covered the spread by 3 points. This could be one game Donaghy influenced. How many others did he? How many others are in on the this and how many games were affected?
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