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Catching up on lots of lost time

  • Written by Ken Karrson

 

BARTOSH

HEADLINE: Catching up on lots of lost time

            Now that a certain columnist has awakened from a winter slumber -- who are we kidding; the spring and fall snoozes got in the way too -- it’s time to address a few things that have occurred since last we met.

            The most recent bit of big news was Bruce Jenner deciding that he no longer liked being best known as an Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon. Of course, to younger folks his athletic past gets overshadowed by his association with the wacky Kardashian cabal, which may explain his own erratic behavior over the past couple years that culminated with his announcement that he is going to become a woman.

            None of this really mattered in a sporting sense until one group with way too much time on its hands opted to draft a petition urging the International Olympic Committee to strip Jenner of his 1976 medal. Come on, the man/woman has already stripped himself/herself of all dignity in the eyes of many, so let’s back off, OK?

            Amazingly, the IOC for once acted with a smidgen of rationality and said it wouldn’t even entertain the idea. Good because no matter how one might view Jenner’s recent actions, he earned that medal fair and square.

            The argument the petitioners offered was that men and women aren’t supposed to compete in each other’s events, but Jenner was unquestionably male when he participated nearly 40 years ago. Besides, how would being a woman have helped him in that circumstance? It would, in fact, have hindered him.

            So even if he now wants to have it melted down and made into a broach or pair of earrings, Jenner deserves to keep his medal.

            Now as for the whole sex-change thing, I have just one question: Why is he being feted for his courage? Aren’t we going overboard here? Far better examples of courageous individuals in athletics would be college basketball player Lauren Hill, who inspired teammates with her battle against cancer before passing away during this past season; former Kansas City Chief Joe Delaney, who drowned while trying to save three kids who’d fallen into a pond; or baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, who died in a plane crash while en route with supplies for people living in an impoverished part of the world.

            Those are examples of heroism; a guy unearthing his inner female doesn’t quite fall into that same category. I hope we can all agree on that.

                                    ***

            On a lighter note, you may recall several months ago when Prince William of England and his wife visited the U.S. and took in an NBA game while here. Normally that wouldn’t have been a big deal to anyone but the entertainment-world paparazzi, who salivate at the thought of being in the presence of royalty, either real or theatrical.

            However, a photo that made the Internet rounds was one William and Kate had taken with LeBron James, who had his arm around Kate when the picture was taken. His hand was in plain sight, so that was no problem; what did cause a bit of a stir among the super-sensitive crowd was that James had the temerity to touch royalty.

            Hey, everyone around the NBA refers to him as “King James.” Now, I’m no scholar when it comes to understanding regal hierarchy, but I do know that whenever I play poker king trumps all else, including queen. And since William still has to answer to his grandmother … well let’s just give LeBron a pass.

            The only thing that would have made it unpleasant was if James had worked up a sweat beforehand by taping a commercial or calling a press conference to announce his career plans for 2016, but that apparently wasn’t the case.

            An interesting point in all this is I don’t recall William getting his royal drawers in a bunch over the whole thing. If he had, we would have heard about it and, of course, he would have settled things mano a mano.

            Polo ponies at 20 paces perhaps?

                                    ***

            Remember the story about a Dallas Cowboys player who went to extremes to beat a kid in a video football game?

            Orlando Scandrick was visiting a children’s hospital, which was a very cool thing to do. What was downright cold, however, was the way he resorted to employing trick plays while playing Madden Football with one of the patients.

On the one hand Scandrick’s win-at-all-costs attitude is admirable. Too often we don’t see such determination being exhibited by today’s athletes, who seem content to cash their gargantuan paychecks that are attached to their guaranteed contracts and aren’t bothered at all by a game’s outcome, so Scandrick is a breath of fresh air in that regard.

Making it stale is the fact he didn’t adopt that same mindset on a Sunday against a Green Bay Packer or Washington Redskin but saved it up for use against a helpless kid. When this story first came out, some people weighed in with the idea that Scandrick was teaching something every youngster should realize: Life isn’t fair and things don’t always work out the way we would like.

I assume, though, that a kid in a children’s hospital has already figured that out for himself.

                        ***

OK, where is it? Where is the mad rush to soccer everyone said Americans were finally going to make in the aftermath of last summer’s World Cup?

To paraphrase an old Phil Collins tune, I guess they missed again.

Don’t say you weren’t warned by the realists. While soccer may be the world’s favorite sport, it’s a world the majority of native-born U.S. citizens simply refuse to enter when so many alternatives exist.

Most of us are perfectly content to let soccer have its place in the athletic sphere and won’t harass fans of it, assuming we don’t get harangued ourselves. But that’s what happens every time a U.S. team steps on the world stage -- we’re informed in a most direct manner that this is the time soccer will catch on in a massive way.

A year ago I tried again to understand what the temporary hoopla was all about, but soccer just didn’t grab me. Don’t hate me, soccer fans, but I felt the entire undertaking was tedious and I grew weary watching it.

Gee, no wonder I dozed off for nine months.