2002-02-23 / Columnists

Boyle-ing Points by Kevin Boyle

The Golden Rule: Whiners Win

The winter Olympics are like Christ the King basketball games—you don’t have to see them to have an opinion. (Inside joke to you Bag of Mail fans).

Anyway, leave it to figure skating, the Will and Grace of sports, to make the world revert to its former silliness. British peacekeepers are attacked in Afghanistan and there’s barely a peep. A revolution’s going on in Katmandu and George Bush is pushing the case for arctic drilling (instead of pushing for alternates to fossil fuels) and hundreds are being killed in Nepal and the Green Berets are landing in the Philippines….well, forget that stuff. The retro headlines are about those ice-skating Canadians getting jobbed by the judges. It was not quite as good as Tonya Harding’s boyfriend hiring a buddy to whack Nancy Kerrigan on the knee but a little behind the scenes corruption and the subsequent media coverage have made things seem so pre-9/11. (Pleasant bonus: because the crooked judge was from France we all get to say what creeps those French are. And if you think that woman judge is really horrible I’ve got even worse news, she likes Jerry Lewis, too!).

But what’s this about two gold medals? How lame. Maybe Al Gore should’ve appealed to the International Olympic Committee instead of the Supreme Court. Okay Al, you can be president, too (those hanging chads had to be French. At the very least, "Chad" sounds like an ice skater).

Anyway, someone on the committee should’ve said to the Canadians, you got robbed, but that’s tough. Happens all the time. That’s the nature of sports that rely on human judgment. Refs and umpires manipulate results, intentionally or unintentionally, all the time. Feel you got robbed or jobbed? Welcome to sports. Welcome to life.

Even in this case, where the judge admitted she was "manipulated" and pressured" into voting for the Russian skaters the solution should’ve been a lifetime ban and a dose of public shame for the judge----not another set of gold medals for the Canadians. (PS: The Canadian judge gave the Russians the lowest score of all the judges---so I guess that means the Canadian just cheated a little less, and that’s okay?).

I mean, even when people don’t get robbed they think they do. Nancy "Why me?!" Kerrigan still thinks she should’ve won the gold and is still whining about it. So let her whine. Then again, if she promises to shut up, I say give her two gold medals.

Hey, now that Pandora’s Package is open I think the 1972 USA basketball team should line up for the National Anthem---we gotta get them their gold. We know they were robbed. And while the IOC is making things right with the world, I’d like them to consider my plight. A few decades ago I was robbed at the Soapbox Derby when I was a cub scout---I’d like the judges to get me my Blue Ribbon. Now.

And I think I deserved a "10" in the dunking contest I was in last week….

Boyle-ing Over: Stand up and cheer for the idea of some Public High School becoming sports academies, or magnet schools for sports. We have "automotive" schools and "performing arts" schools why not have schools that cater to kids who have deep interest in sports? Maybe kids could learn about Babe Ruth, Arthur Ashe and Jackie Robinson in class. And maybe kids could learn about Earl Manigault and others who didn’t make it. These stories could be told in history or civics class. And maybe they could hear about Donn Clendenon and Len Elmore, ballplayers who went to law school after their playing days concluded. Or they could hear how learning some math and the art of negotiation might pay off---because something like being a sports agent is a career choice, too, should the dream of the NBA not pan out. A lot of stuff, periphery to sports, could be worked into such a curriculum. The point is, it’s hard to get kids interested in anything---so when you find something that hooks ‘em, go with it. Make the most of it.

Offer them something that addresses and enhances that interest.

Frankly, I think colleges should allow students to major in particular "sports." They should offer a "Basketball" or "Football" major. Students should have the chance to become expert in these fields. So many "student-athletes" wind up as coaches and referees it would be better for all if they arrived on the sidelines with a firmer understanding and appreciation of sports and the game they’re going to teach or oversee.

Most coaches learn on the job---it would be better if more had sat through classes designed to explore coaching philosophies and technique, the role of parents, the referee’s job, sportsmanship, and why coaching can be a rewarding experience. I’m certain we’d have fewer knuckleheads coaching kids if there were some educational training involved. Again, so many grads get involved in sports---colleges should allow them the chance to prepare.

Maybe I’ve got a warped view, but I know a lot more people who drifted into coaching after majoring in Political Science than drifted into politics. More drifted into coaching after majoring in Communications than drifted into Broadcasting. And the thing is, when you drift into coaching you’re drifting into the lives of young, impressionable people.

**A number of people thought I was holding out on them, that I actually knew the answer when I wondered where birds go when they die. (In case you missed it, I said considering all the hundreds, thousands, of birds you see flying around you’d think you’d see more dead ones lying about). Well, I don’t have the answer. (Some know-it-all, I am).

And I don’t know how astronauts scratch an itch. And while you’re looking for the dead birds you might wonder why you can refute something but you can’t fute it.

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