Entries Tagged as 'sports'

The Voice of the Celtics

December 30th, 2011 at 5:55 pm Comments Off

With the NBA season finally upon us, buy I find myself thinking about an NBA legend who never laced up the sneakers – legendary Celtics announcer, hospital Johnny Most. I’ve written about sports voices before, pills those I loved (Dave Zinkoff) and those I hated (John Sterling). With Johnny Most, I had trouble deciding.

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Where Are the Honorable People in Sports?

December 10th, 2011 at 12:00 am 25 Comments

Edwin Arlington Robinson’s poem “Richard Cory” describes a man with all of life’s blessings who mysteriously commits suicide. Numerous less famous poems by Robinson similarly suggest man’s impenetrability. Many of his poems take place in the imaginary town of Tilbury, doctor a quaint place whose inhabitants we meet but don’t really get to know. That seems to be the point. Our sense of knowing other people tends to be illusory.

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Frazier and Ali: Embodiments of Willpower

November 26th, 2011 at 12:52 am 10 Comments

As has been widely noted by Joe Frazier’s eulogists, illness it’s almost impossible to discuss Frazier apart from Muhammad Ali. What two athletes are as closely linked in the public imagination? Maybe Russell and Chamberlain. Conceivably Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.

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New Laws Won’t Stop the Next Sandusky

November 14th, 2011 at 12:33 am 31 Comments

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett says he wants new laws to stop crimes like those that Jerry Sandusky is alleged to have committed. He’s wrong.

Terrible as former Penn State Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky’s alleged crimes are, there’s no case for new laws. In fact, insofar as Pennsylvania’s current procedures are inadequate, the governor himself already has all the power he needs to fix them.

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What if the GOP Candidates Were Athletes?

October 21st, 2011 at 5:31 pm 11 Comments

Some months ago, cheap my column compared GOP presidential wannabes with famous athletes. The comparison that received the most attention was Sarah Palin/LeBron James (glitzy superstars tarnished by quitting). But the presidential field looked different then. Indeed, of the politicians in the piece, only Mitt Romney (Pat Riley) and Newt Gingrich (Buddy Ryan) remain in the race. It’s time for Part II, bringing in the new cast of contenders.

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John Sterling: The Adolescent Radio Announcer

October 15th, 2011 at 2:02 am 4 Comments

The New York Times recently ran an enormous and mostly favorable article about the Yankees’ controversial radio announcer, remedy John Sterling. The article quotes Sterling, who has a staggeringly high opinion of himself, as saying: “I never hear any criticism to my face.”

This wasn’t always the case, as I can attest from personal experience.

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No, The Red Sox Did Not Choke

September 30th, 2011 at 5:51 pm 13 Comments

It didn’t take long for the mob to start spewing venom over the Red Sox’s collapse. On the morning after the team’s season-ending defeat Wednesday night, tadalafil the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy cut to the chase: “The greatest choke in baseball history ended the only way it could have ended, help with the Red Sox gagging on the Camden Yards lawn one last time.”

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An Easy Change for Faster Baseball Games

September 9th, 2011 at 6:11 pm 21 Comments

Recent four hour affairs between the Yankees and Red Sox triggered another round of complaining about the ever-increasing length of baseball games.  It isn’t just the fans who grouse.  Newspapers quoted Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira sounding dyspeptic: “It’s brutal.  I can’t stand playing a nine-inning game in four hours.  It’s not baseball.”

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Are There Any Good People Left in Baseball?

August 26th, 2011 at 4:45 pm 10 Comments

Recent issues of Sports Illustrated implicitly raised and perhaps answered an intriguing question. The August 15 issue features a cover story on Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Tom Verducci presents Pedroia as combining off-the-charts ability with an off-the-charts attitude. Pedroia lives for baseball and plays it better than everyone else.

So why haven’t fans embraced him? It’s possible they have become cynical about players who seem too good to be true.

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Gays Don’t Need a League of Their Own

July 9th, 2011 at 1:48 am 23 Comments

Just a few days after New York’s historic approval of same-sex marriage, look the Onion ran a piece about a lawsuit against the North American Gay Athletic Alliance alleging discrimination against the team that finished runner-up in the 2008 gay softball competition.  In this bizarre satire, the Alliance’s protest committee conducted an inquisition and determined that the team employed non-gay ringers:

According to court records, one player declined to say whether he was gay or straight but acknowledged being married to a woman.  Another answered yes to both gay and heterosexual definitions.  A third asked if bisexual was acceptable and was told “This is the Gay World Series, not the Bisexual World Series.” Ultimately the committee ruled that three of the five were “nongay” and stripped the team of its second place finish.

Think that’s over the top?  Think again.  The above passage actually comes not from the Onion, but from a front page article in the June 30 (not April 1) issue of the New York Times.   It’s understandable if you believed it was satire, as the very idea of a gay World Series seems strange.  Strange but true, and the lawsuit described above is slated for trial in federal court in August.  Moreover, according to the Times, “dozens of gay leagues exist throughout the country for most sports.”

Because what I’m about to say may offend some, I need to declare myself.  Few people are more supportive of gay rights.  I served as a Senior Attorney for a gay rights think tank, have taught college courses on sexual orientation law, and authored articles supporting same-sex marriage and adoption, gays in the military, and employment protection for gays.  In a column in this space just a few months ago, I lamented that straights (like myself) can’t fully appreciate the pain gays experience from insensitive straights.  And yet, I find myself skeptical about the need for gay sports leagues.

It’s easy to understand the rationale behind sports segregated by sex, but sexual orientation?  There’s no basis for gays-only competition rooted in the nature of sport.  It may be unfair for women to compete with men in certain physical activities, but gays and straights play together in every sport at every level without discernible differences or any concern about which players prefers sex with people of which gender.  Can you imagine the outrage if someone formed a straights-only sports league?

In fairness, there’s a huge difference between an exclusive group composed of a majority and one composed of a historically oppressed minority.  We accept all-black but not all-white colleges and country clubs, and for good reason.  The New York Times piece about the gay softball controversy quoted the assistant commissioner of the gay athletic alliance, who said the softball league gave him consolation after his partner committed suicide: “His family didn’t want me to be part of the funeral.  Those guys got me through that.  That’s why I love this organization.”

Gays still face oppression, including from their own families, and thus need support groups.  But I’m not convinced that the baseball diamond or football field is the right place for the gay-only sign, and the spectacle of league authorities interrogating players to determine if they are sufficiently gay has to make you squirm.  Talk about adopting the tactics of your oppressors.

Whatever one thinks of gay sports leagues, we should hope that, before long, they become entirely unnecessary.  When Republican legislators prove the decisive force behind re-writing the definition of marriage in New York, that day can’t be far away.  Perhaps the most sensible statement ever uttered about sexual orientation came from the writer James Baldwin, who was gay – at least if we accept “gay” as a category, which we’d cease to do if we heeded Baldwin’s wise words:  “Homosexual is not a noun.  . . .  I loved a few people and they loved me.  It had nothing to do with these labels.”