Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Sports on trial

There is so much that can be good about sports.

Whether it comes in the form of the Super Bowl, a high school
basketball game or a race between two second-graders to determine
which one is the rotten egg, physical competition is simply one of
the greatest measures that humans have for our accomplishments and
our progress.

When I first got into sports writing, that is what I was most
excited about: the chance to put into words how meaningful and
affecting sports can be.


I’d spent my entire life learning the rules of the various games
(even, amazingly, cricket), guzzling down the highlights,
memorizing the statistics and reading the histories. I felt that I
might finally have found an outlet for all of that previously
useless knowledge.

I imagined writing about athletes breaking unbreakable records,
surmounting insurmountable odds and striving, always, to take human
triumph to the next level.

After a couple semesters of writing, I’ve been a bit disturbed
to realize that I can’t find many topics to write about that
concern any of those things.

You see, while I was reading “Bill James’ Historical Baseball
Abstract,” renting “The Bad News Bears” and watching “Sports
Center,” it turns out that I should have been reading law
textbooks, renting “Eight Men Out” and watching Court TV.

Because, more than any player’s stats or any team’s strengths,
what you need to know if you’re going to follow the Rae
Carruth/Dwayne Goodrich era of sports is what the difference
between a felony assault and a misdemeanor battery is.

Just take a peek at the front page of on any given day;
you’ll be lucky to find that there are half as many stories
covering competition on the playing field as there are covering
competition in the court room.

Perhaps the most disturbing trend in sports is how many of the
stories being written by courtroom reporters are now coming from
college campuses.

The University of Colorado football team happens to be the story
of the week, having not only seemingly committed every crime this
side of murder, but having, in fact, done so under the supervision
and protection of head coach and all-around horrible human being
Gary Barnett.

But the Buffaloes are only the latest in a string of
unfathomable college sports stories. Last July, Nebraska offensive
lineman Junior Tagoa’i pled no contest to an assault charge for
hitting his girlfriend. She was holding their 18-month-old child at
the time.

One month earlier, Florida linebackers Channing Crowder and
Taurean Charles both pled no contest to misdemeanor battery.
Crowder beat someone up outside of a nightclub; Charles slammed his
girlfriend into a computer desk and pinned her to the floor of a
dorm room.

Willie Williams — Miami’s top recruit and the nation’s most
highly regarded high school linebacker — kicked off next year’s
freshman-class hi-jinks early. On a recruiting trip to Gainesville
on Super Bowl weekend, Williams (allegedly …) set off three fire
extinguishers in his hotel, grabbed a woman against her will and
got into a bar fight. He was charged with misdemeanor criminal
mischief, misdemeanor battery and felony malicious damage (for the
extinguishers); Willie has now been arrested 11 times.

And then of course there is Boo Wade, who in court has somehow
managed to trump the rather lofty accomplishments of his teammates
on the court this season by allegedly choking one of his (many)
girlfriends. For this he served quite a lofty two-game

Sports are the pursuit of the ideal, the triumph of the will.
I’ve wanted to write about those things for a long time — to write
about how much there is good about sports.

It’s just unfortunate to realize that not much is.

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