Column: Sports lovers unashamed

curt.kemp

When I sat down to write this column the only thoughts running through my mind were of the Detroit Tigers’ winless start, the NBA’s playoff races and NCAA tournaments. So, I asked myself: Is it wrong to follow the world of sports so closely?

I’ve made a point to follow the presidential election. I’ve kept tabs on the campus community and the ASNMU elections. And, I work at a newspaper. So to say that I’m out of touch would be a stretch.

But my web browser goes to ESPN.com when it loads. And I’m OK with that.

With all the depressing news that surround us every day-the war in Iraq, the plummeting economy and the constant-rising gas costs-don’t we all need a break?

The world of sports provides just that-an opportunity to step away from the day’s grind and witness some of the greatest athletic accomplishments in history.

Tiger Woods is one of the greatest golfers of all time, and right now, is at the top of his game. New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez may go on to break the all-time record in home runs. Some might even say that Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is the best professional basketball player ever.

In the last week, college basketball fans witnessed another achievement for one of the greatest coaches ever-when Pat Summit, with a 983-182 all-time record, picked up her eighth national championship for the Tennessee Lady Vols. On that team is 6-foot-6-inch Candace Parker, a player who will be remembered amongst the top-three players of all-time.

Though to say that all sports have been an untainted oasis in a desert of darkness would be na’ve, not to mention overly descriptive.

Barry Bonds, the current all-time leader in home runs, will have a legacy forever marred in the steroid scandal. The NBA will forever be tainted because of one rogue referee who bet on basketball. As for soccer, there are betting scandals and overzealous fans.

The difference, when it comes to sports is that the few black eyes are coupled with hundreds of stories of glory. With politics, the economy and the legislature, the bad outweighs the good.

Bonds taking performance-enhancing drugs to hit more home runs pales in comparison to the atrocities of the Bush administration. Bonds tainted America’s game, but Bush demoralized thousands of Americans with his declaration of war.

Look at the front page of the New York Times. It’s not often that you’ll see a diplomat kissing a baby or handing over fistfuls of cash to those less fortunate-unless it’s a campaign photo. More often, the front page is a photo from some war-torn country or a soldier trudging through said country.

Former U.S. Chief Justice Earl Warren may have put it best when he commented on how he read a newspaper: “I always turn to the sports page first, which records people’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man’s failures.”

I don’t mean to suggest merely brushing aside man’s failures and turning on the Masters golf tournament. But, I’d rather watch the Tigers start off 0-7 in the Major League Baseball season than see America involved in another armed conflict.