Friday, July 27, 2007


It's one of those times when you feeling like having one of those Web polls in which 130,000 people vote on

Which was the worst, most depressing event to happen in the last week or two in sports? Has there ever been a longer list of contenders?

Let's go through the carnage:

* Michael Vick is indicted for being heavily involved in dog fights. This is one of the top five names in the National Football League, with millions of dollars coming in through football and non-football avenues. Yet he may have thrown much of that away so that he could watch two dogs fight to the death. It's difficult to say if this is arrogance or stupidity, or some combination of the two, but it's fair to say Vick has torched his reputation. He won't be able to play a football game for years without having fans through dog bones or collars at him ... and that assumes he'll be able to play for a team outside the walls of a prison.

* A referee resigns his post after an investigation reveals he apparently altered the outcome of games through his officiating. His actions instantly stripped basketball of a bit of its credibility. After all, if the games aren't on the up and up, we have professional wrestling. Pro sports need to have the illusion of completely fair play in order to be successful. Perry Mason may win every case on television, but sports can supply that win-or-lose drama.

* The man apparently on his way to winning the Tour de France is kicked out of the race by his own team. Let's repeat that last part. By his own team. In a sport in which practically everyone has been at least accused of doping over the last several years, this one set a new standard. Just when we thought cycling wouldn't be taken very seriously again thanks in part to the Floyd Landis mess of a year ago, this comes along.

* The most hallowed record in baseball is under attack by one of its greatest-ever players. Most times, this would be cause for celebration. But Barry Bonds seems to be taking any shred of joy out of the proceedings. Not only is he accused of taking steroids over the years, but he brings a personality to the chase that makes it even more difficult to root for him. The other day he went so far as to call Bob Costas, certainly one of the most credible and well-liked people in the broadcasting business, a midget. Costas pointed out that he comes by his 5-6, 150-pound frame naturally at least. I'm not sure who would be a worse target than Costas for such a remark. John Wooden? Oprah? Just to add to the situation, Bonds has gone into a slump that has dragged out the chase, meaning we all have to have shows interrupted indefinitely to watch him pop out to short.

* Wake Forest basketball coach Skip Prosser dropped dead after a jog. Prosser by all accounts was one of the good guys in the coaching business, a family man who always had a smile on his face. I remember him finishing up an interview session of the press area after a game at Niagara University. He immediately walked to a nearby phone and made a call. "Hi, it's Daddy. ... Yes, we won. ... Is Mom home?" Never saw another coach do that so quickly after a game.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something or someone, but you get the idea.

Too often the world of fun and games has been less than fun and games. It's part of the bargain, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.