Sports

Liguori: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly In Sports In 2011

(Photo by DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/Getty Images) | (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) | (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

(Photo by DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/Getty Images) | (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) | (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

By Ann Liguori
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Sports in 2011 took on an entirely new look in a variety of ways and was definitely the year of the ‘good, the bad and the ugly.’  Here are my picks for the story in sports that top each of these categories.

The Good:

The US Women’s soccer team positively influenced a generation of girls who spend countless hours on the soccer field in both school and league play. The USA’s win against heavily-favored Brazil in the quarter-finals of the World Cup this past summer was both exciting and inspirational. Veteran Abby Wambach notched the game-tying goal in the 122nd minute, sending the game into penalty kicks. Hope Solo made a key save. Ali Krieger came through with the clinching kick. The US Team went on to beat France in the semi-finals but lost to Japan in the finals, not able to come up with the goods in that shootout, making just one of four attempts. But the spirit and energy of their journey and the way they handled their defeat in the finals, provided invaluable lessons to the young women who look up to them. Chase Summer Burke, a senior at Cold Spring Harbor High School and the captain of the girl’s high school varsity soccer team which won the 2011 Long Island Championships wrote me this:

“The US Women’s World Cup team was very inspiring. I remember when they won in 1999, I have autograph pics of Brandi Chastain and Mia Hamm in my room, (actually I gave them to my little sister). Their loss was devastating but their effort and the whole journey was awesome.

When I look at those girls or women really, I see athletes who have made a huge sacrifice. I don’t even think most people can relate to all the time and effort that they must commit, to be prepared for such a challenge. The hours of training and doing so, both physically and mentally, to be 100% resilient, and with all the travel not just in the US but for friendly matches around the globe. It’s amazing to see players like Abby Wambach. She is so driven! I mean they all are, but some display it more clearly. I was also really excited when Alex Morgan was able to score and light a fire with her speed and energy. I could relate to that part because I know how I feel when I’m out there.

These girls were able to have our entire country rally and pay close attention to this huge event, the World Cup, and I love it!”

And when you write about the ‘good’ in sports, obviously Tim Tebow is the first person who comes to mind. Tebow has the courage and conviction to stand up for what he believes, under the microscope of millions. His strength and individuality, on and off the field, is a lesson to all.

The Bad:

News in sports reached the lowest of lows with Jerry Sandusky’s alleged sexual abuse against children scandal at Penn State.  The story quickly got worse with questions lingering over coach Joe Paterno and others in authority at the University regarding what they knew and what little was done, if anything.  And if one of these scandals is not bad enough, the prospect of a similar monstrosity at Syracuse involving now former, basketball assistant coach Bernie Fine.

These horrific actions within the world of sports should magnify a problem that seems to be happening in epidemic proportions world-wide but yet go unreported and therefore, unpunished. The question for 2012: what can be done to prevent this from happening? And as I wrote in a previous column, it is quite clear that institutions across the country must re-examine and implement their own Code of Ethical Conduct and make sure that everyone on campus, from the student body and faculty to the administrators and all who work on campus, have access to a  Code of Ethics, understand it and comply with it.

The Ugly:

When was the last time two major sports organizations locked out in the same season? Yes, it may be a sign of the times in the sports business arena, but fans were forced to endure a four-plus month NFL lock-out and another prolonged ordeal with the NBA, with their lock out starting  July 1 and officially ending on December 8, shortening the NBA season to 66 regular season games. UG – lock-outs! Most hurt are the fans and the small businesses and individuals who can’t make a living when the games are not played.  Let the games begin and end with NO interruptions. Can’t labor negotiations take place way in advance and with no work stoppages?  Major League Baseball was able to pull it off this year!

Happy New Year to you!

XXX

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