2011: A Year to Forget

Posted: December 22, 2011 in sports
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

This is my last column of the year and few things could make me happier. I’m more than ready to put the 2011 sports years behind. It has been awful.

This has nothing to do with the Jaguars’ miserable season; or the football Gators looking more like Vanderbilt than Florida; or FSU’s high expectations on the football field going up in smoke before October; or the collapse of the Red Sox and Braves.

Sure, there were many amazing stories. What was better than Tim Tebow making the know-all analysts look so foolish? How about a new owner for the Jaguars who exudes such promise? How about a Final Four game matching Butler against Virginia Commonwealth? When has there been a better finish to a Major League Baseball season? The Cardinals winning the World Series was the end of an incredible journey. What Tony Stewart did to win the NASCAR title was historic. Who will forget Rory McIlroy’s amazing U.S. Open performance?

But 2011 will go down as the year of scandal. I’m talking about real life, gut wrenching, sickening scandal. It will be remembered as the year of Penn State, the fall of Joe Paterno and that sicko former coach, Jerry Sandusky. As a disgusting footnote, it will be about the fall of Syracuse basketball, not on the court but because of the alleged child sex abuse charges leveled at long-time assistant coach Bernie Fine.

The stories out of Penn State and Syracuse make the arrogance of LeBron James’ “The Decision” look small. They make the NFL and NBA lockouts look unimportant. They make Albert Pujols’ farewell to St. Louis look meaningless. They make the debate about a rematch between LSU and Alabama for the BCS Championship look silly.

We’ve seen the ugly side of sports in other years. There have been real life tragedies before. But nothing ever compared to the shock — and the ongoing shockwaves — that punched us when details came oozing out about what grown men who were trusted mentors and respected teachers did to helpless kids.

Maybe time will heal some of the hurt and the disgust we feel, but will the term “coach” ever have the same meaning? The word has been sullied as never before, and that makes me mad as hell.

The year 2011 is near an end and it couldn’t come any sooner.

I mean it more than ever when I say, “Happy New Year!”

  1. Wyman says:

    Many years ago I came to the realization that no leader of a country should stay in office beyond 20 years, for by then, the leader has grown corrupt, whether he means to be or not, nor whether he is well-respected through-out the world. The same seems true for modern sports. That old saying about power corrupts and corrupts absolutely, although I forget the exact words, strikes me as true. The drive to be number one, the money, you name it, has taken coaching from a venerable, well-respected profession and turned it into a world of despots, often of a media friendly nature, but not always.

    Never a Gator fan, nor a South Carolina fan, I would like to see Steve Spurrier retire before his image is tarnished or destroyed. Although not always the easiest guy to like, Steve Spurrier has been fun and entertaining. Would be nice to see him go out while he seems to not take himself or the game too seriously, which is not to say he’s not competitive. Coaches have become bigger than the schools they represent. They should leave while they still have the respect of the crowd, before their names are dragged through the sewers.

    Whether we have seen the worst of the headlines, I can’t say, but I can’t believe this year brings the end to reports of major corruption in sports to an end. There might be a brief rest, but there will be more major scandals. Too many coaches are too big compared to their sport. Too many colleges are sports industries. Too many players get away with too much. Sports has lost the integrity it once had. That’s too bad. Sports can teach us a lot. Even the integrity of sports reporters are now being called into question. I don’t think that’s wrong. Too many once venerable, respected professions have rushed to the gutter. Corruption is a story…to be continued in 2012 and beyond.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, David Lamm. (I remember when the first meant something and the second led people to resolve to be better and do better in the coming year. Now, who knows?)

  2. Tampa Jack says:

    I predict that in the year 2012 Urban Liar will take the head coaching job for the Dallas Cowboys stating he is leaving college football because he was sucker punched in the gut by the NCAA.

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