Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Another visit to the 'pigsty' of life

JUST WHEN the seamy details of the BALCO (steroids) case had, seemingly, started to corner the biggest names in baseball, scandals involving two other major sports -- football and basketball -- hit the proverbial fan in succession.
So what's next? Hockey? Tiddly-winks? Stay tune for the next edition of your scandal sheet.
Of course, there was a time of innocence or at least a lull when according to a now departed scribbler called sports "the playpen of life." However, nowdays, it's just "the pigsty."
In January, I listed the top seven scandals, in my opinion, starting with the one involving "better living through chemistry" known as BALCO, which has surrounded such illustrious names as Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi.
Ranked at No. 2 was Canada's Ben Johnson with Tonya Harding's whacking on Nancy Kerrigan's knees in 1994 at No. 3. In quick succession came the disgrace shadowing baseball basher-gambler Pete Rose; former NHLer Mike Stanton; bruising Mike Tyson and, of course, O.J.
For good measure, we added the notoriety surrounding Rick Tocchet and Gretzky's gambling spouse, Janet, and then there was Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant.
It seemed the scandals and its "dry rot" might have run its course.
But no, Bunky, such was not the case.
In fact, the leading seven listed in a late January column was just the tip of the iceberg.
Since Friday's banner headlines in the New York Post, the NBA has been reeling that senior hothead referee Tim Donaghy gambled on games. That's considered a definite no-no.
Was this senior official, who is being investigated by the FBI, involved in such a criminal act as point shaving?
And if you think the gambling aspect of the NBA isn't BIG BUSINESS, just scroll through the Pregame.com website and get these facts from its president, RJ Bell.
According to National Gambling Impact Study Commission, the amount gambled on sports illegally is almost 170 times bigger than the amount bet legally ($380 billion vs. $2.25 billion per year). In addition, Nevada Gaming Control Board apparently stated $61 million was bet on the NBA in May 2007.
Bell emphasized that $10 billion a month is bet, legally and illegally, on the NBA.
In other words, BIG BUSINESS is almost an inadequate term for the present situation, which even alarmed the evasive NBA commissioner David Stern, who worked as a lawyer for the league before assuming the commissioner's role.
The Donaghy gambling situation was apparently an isolated one, although Stern was certainly aware of the ongoing investigation.
"We think we have a rogue isolated criminal here," said Stern during a Tuesday morning press conference although the FBI probe is expected to root out more gambling associates Donaghy might have had.
In the meantime, the senior NBA ref, who is estimated to have earned $260,000 annually and resigned from the league on July 9, was reported to have concerns for he and his family's safety from "enemies," which could include the mob.
While the NBA reeled from the Donaghy accusations, who slipped under the so-called all-pervasive radar set by the league, it had to share the glaring spotlight, which has been aimed at the NFL and Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick, who, undoubtedly, thumbed his nose at commissioner Roger Goodell.
While the NFL boss has told Vick not to show up for the Falcons' training camp, dogfighting allegations certainly hang over this multi-millionaire player, who some have placed in the "thug" category.
The indictment against Vick and others have raised his questionable behaviour to a high level and a section in it probably outlined the savagery in the bloodsport more than any legalese. "In March 2003, Vick and others sponsored a 35-pound female pit bull in a fight that had a $26,000 purse. After the fight, Purnell Peace, one of the others indicted, consulted with Vick about the losing dog and Peace then "executed the losing dog by wetting the dog down with water and electrocuting the animal."
Whether Vick is found guilty of conducting such savagery on his property in Virginia or not, he doesn't deserve any respect and his troubling actions, not only in this instance but in others, should never be condoned by the NFL or society, in general.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Kimberly Bell, who once had a relationship with 43-year-old Bonds, told the AP: "If I had more self-esteem when I was younger, I wouldn't have been caught up with such a rotten man."

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