A bad stretch for sports...a worse one for the truth
The Badgers lost the Rose Bowl.
The Packers are out of the playffs.
The Bucks win a few, then lose a few. Their head coach already walked.
Times are tough for local sports fans, and not much better for those around the rest of the country as both Lance Armstrong and Manti T'ao came clean this week.
Armstrong finally got caught. T'ao just got cornered.
Armstrong admits doping to Oprah Winfrey, calling himself a bully when it comes to his handling of those who'd threatened to rat him out as he was piling up Tour de France victories like drink chips at the corner tap. What he didn't say on Winfrey's National Couch of Contrition?
Ta'o and Notre Dame admitted that the stud linebacker's girlfriend, the one who died of leukemia the same day the player's grandmother did, didn't exist. Both say that he's the victim of a cruel hoax, the ND Athletic Director tearfully telling reporters how sad it was that one of the most trusting people he knows (Ta'o) will no longer be able to trust that way again.
Stand in line, Manti.
Scandal and sports are nothing new. "Say it ain't so, Joe" is as much a part of athletic competition as pulled groins, tender hammies and gap integrity. Competition means finding advantages, and there'll always be those who lemming over the cliffs of integrity to gain a tenth of a second more on the runner next to him, to get an extra mph on a fastball he's trying to sneak past another batter.
While it's easy to look down our noses at the Bonds's and Armstrongs, it should also be easier (and far more pleasant) to keep looking up to those who did it right, people like Bart Starr and Hank Aaron, to name two with local ties.
Starr was quality on the field and off of it, keeping his local ties well after his welcome as the Pack's head coach wore off. Lesser people would've left the state after the battering he took during his time on headset but Starr and wife Cheri stayed tied to the team, the community and the organization through the Lombardi Cancer Clinic, among other things.
Aaron used quick wrists instead of the "cream" or the "clear" to become baseball's undisputed home run king, a title he keeps in most circles as we come to find out what Barry Bonds ingested to pass 755. He speaks fondly of his days in Milwaukee both as a Brave and a Brewer while maintaining his local ties--how cool was it to see him on stage when the Crew unveiled Bob Uecker's statue last summer?
Starr and Aaron are but two local examples. There are many more athletes out there who played by the rules, who gave back to their communities, who do the right things when their careers are over.
Then there's Armstrong, the latest mega-star caught with feet of clay and coming clean on Winfrey's sofa. The tired ritual of the busted athlete seeking personal cleansing and professional rebirth plays on. And, you can bet that as the disgraced cyclist and uber talk maven sat elbow to elbow, Oprah's minions were working hard on the next big get--Ta'o. How soon will it be before we see the linebacker explaining how he ended up on the wrong end of a hoax, one that he failed to get in front of until Deadspin.com asked the questions the rest of us in the media didn't?
Think the Packers had a rough day in San Francisco last week Saturday? Look at the week the truth had.