FOR THE WEEK OF AUG. 06, 2007
Sports scandals test fans’ faith this summer
Athletic news regularly spills out of the sports section and into news, business and lifestyle pages. Send students on a hunt for coverage of developments mentioned at left or other reports that are about more than fun and games.
Fans are among those commenting about what's going on in baseball, basketball, football and cycline. See if class members can find spectators' voices in news coverage, the letters page or in online forums. Encourage them to join the discussion.
Pro athletes began building skills at neighborhood gyms or fields, in summer leagues and on school teams. Prep and recreational coverage is part of the sports beat. Tee up a discussion about how this newspaper does in that area and what might deserve more attention. Suggest that views be sent to the sports editor by letter or message.
ESPN seems a lot like Court TV lately as legal and ethics controversies swirl around baseball's new home run king, a veteran basketball referee, a football star and cyclists in the recent Tour de France bike race. The summer of scandals raises tough challenges for sports officials, who want to reassure fans that athletes and their contests are worth admiring.
Clouds darkening professional sports come from evidence of steroid use in baseball, an FBI game-fixing investigation of the former NBA ref, federal dog-fighting charges against quarterback Michael Vick of the Atlanta Falcons and suspected use of performance-assisting drugs by cyclists kicked out of the race across France.
It’s inevitable, some observers say, that pro sports are hit from time to time by misdeeds related to drugs, gambling, greed or glory-seeking – though this season’s multiple controversies mean that “now a scorecard, a urine sample and sometimes even a police lineup are needed to keep up with the players,” as The New York Times put it. In a business full of celebrities, huge egos, high stakes and competitive pressures, the real surprise may be that more scandals don’t sprout. “Haven't we known all along how intricately connected gambling has been to professional sports?” Boston Globe sports columnist Jackie MacMullan wrote when the basketball case broke.
Columnist says: "Once, sports were where we went to escape from reality. Increasingly, sports have become the reality from which we need escape.” – Greg Cote, Miami Herald
Sportswriter says: “The credibility hit here (on the NBA) is one that won’t be recovered from anytime soon. And quite frankly, it should not be.” – Sekou K Smith, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, commenting on referee who gambled
What’s at stake? “There is nothing worse than a sport in which fans can't believe the results are real. That's why professional wrestling isn't a sport. It's why boxing is just barely a sport.” – John Feinstein, sports author and commentator
Front Page Talking Points Archive