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The not so light side of sportsPosted Tuesday, November 22, 2011, at 8:33 AM
As sports fans, we typically take our love for whatever game and use it as our escape from reality. Some people read. Some people hunt. Some people shop. We watch grown men play boy's games and we love it.
If I wanted reality, I'd watch CNN, right?
Once in a while, though, real news seeps its way into the sports world. The last three weeks sports fans have dealt with more reality than any of us have ever wanted to.
When that happens, we as sports fans have to take time to remember that this is only a game. There are much bigger things in this world and sometimes we just have to face that.
The last few weeks have been no exception. I can't recall so many sad sports stories all crammed into just a few week.
Here's a brief synopsis in case you're not up to speed on all of these.
* First we have the Penn State incident(s). One of, if not the most, well known names in college football, Joe Paterno, is implicated a child rape case against another big name, Jerry Sandusky, for not doing enough to put a stop to what was allegedly going on. In the three weeks since, Paterno, as well as plenty of others at Penn State, have been fired or have resigned. I still expect more to come out of this one.
* Smack dab in the middle of the Penn State scandal, and in my opinion under-reported, was the kidnapping of Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos. Its stories just like this that have a lot to do with why so many athletes in countries like Venezuela desire to come play in the United States. I was really shocked to hear how common this apparently is there. They referred to them as express kidnappings. They grab someone, ask for a small enough amount of money that they will actually receive it, and send them off (usually). The only good nugget from Ramos' story is that it actually had a happy ending. Following an impressive rescue, he was returned home safely to his family. It's a shame they can't all end like this.
* In the past few weeks, several prominent athletes and coaches have died. Cardinals pitcher Bob Forsch, who threw out the first pitch at Game 7 of the World Series only a week earlier, died in his home. Another for Cardinal, Matty Alou, died as a result of complications from his diabetes.
* Late last week we learned of a plane crash that killed the head and assistant women's basketball coaches from Oklahoma State University. The plane crash reminded many of a similar crash in 2001 when a small plane carrying two Oklahoma basketball players and eight others affiliated with the university's men's basketball program crashed in Colorado, killing everyone on board.
* Monday morning news broke on another sad story in professional sports when we learned that Seattle Mariners prospect, Greg Halman, was stabbed to death in an apartment in Rotterdam, Netherlands. A report Tuesday morning says the incident is believed to have began when he went to the basement to turn his brother's music down. What happened after that is unknown, but the brother has been arrested in Halman's murder.
* Missouri Tigers football coach Gary Pinkel was arrested for a DWI. There's not a lot to say about this one because, frankly, we've heard it regarding plenty of other athletes.
I'm sure there's something I've missed. It's important that we keep the people involved in all of these in our prayers. Some things are bigger than rivalries and petty arguments, but as fans we all share a common bond. We all share that love for the game that brings us back every year.
In the coming week's we'll lose focus on this and things will return to normal. While it's perfectly fine to move on and get back to life, it's also important that we take these events to heart and remember that these athletes we love to watch are just people. They live and breathe just like we do. They have families who care for them and lives when they walk away from the stadium. They also make mistakes, just like we do. Their mistakes, however, play out in public. Aren't you glad yours don't?
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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.
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