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The jerk factor makes it hard for anyone to be a sports fan these days

Rochester Business Journal
December 2, 2011

Recent news in the wide world of jerks-formerly known as the wide world of sports-has, at least for me, never made it more painful to be a fan of anything involving an inflated ball. (Note: I used "inflated" so it wouldn't include golf.)
First there was the shocking Penn State mess that led to the arrest of assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on multiple counts of child sexual abuse. Then coaching legend Joe Paterno, the Penn State athletic director and the president of the university were all fired for not reporting Sandusky's alleged transgressions.
Then there's the sickening Syracuse U. saga that got assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine fired after he was accused of child sexual abuse. That led to the next question: What, if anything, is going to happen to SU coaching legend Jim Boeheim? Will he keep his job or be hung out to dry for initially defending Bernie, who's anything but fine?
And we all thought Tiger Woods was a dummy for what he did back in 2009!
What's with all those people out there who have so much money or power or both that they think they can get away with anything? This is true not just in big-time sports but in politics, business and anywhere else where wealthy, egomaniacal idiots have convinced themselves that they actually hung the moon.
Too many of those types can't even spell "humility." And no, they don't put their pants on one leg at a time the way we average guys do. If you don't believe it, just ask them.
Anyone who would do what Sandusky and Fine are accused of doing is not only stupid but also sick. As my mother once told me, "When in doubt, don't do it." Whether it's a sex crime or simply stealing, immoral or illegal, too many people can't keep their hands to themselves because their skulls are filled with oatmeal, not brains.
How about a conscience? Maybe it's in there somewhere, but buried far down under their ego. Of course, they all do the mea culpa and say they're sorry, and no doubt they really are sorry-that they got caught.
A friend of mine bought some stuff at the grocery store a while back, and when he got home, he noticed on the receipt that the clerk didn't charge him for one of the items. So what did he do, give himself a high-five and shout, "Yes!" No. He went back to the store and paid for it. "And I slept well that night," he said, smiling.
That reminded me of one of the things I was amazed at when I had a retail business-remember the Golf Tee in Webster? I could not believe how many people would steal just about anything that wasn't bolted down. And never blink.
There's no telling where things at Penn State and Syracuse will end up, but both situations are black eyes that won't go away anytime soon. And who knows how much more stuff like that is happening at other schools? Maybe these two awful incidences will have a positive effect on other athletic programs and make them step back and take a look at what might be going on in their locker rooms, instead of looking the other way.
Meanwhile, here's another bummer-well, at least for me: the National Basketballpalming Association's owners and players have ended the lockout, and the 66-game season will start Christmas Day. (Santa Claus is putting a chunk of coal in my stocking this year.)
Hey, I used to love the NBA. I loved the Celtics when Robert "The Chief" Parrish of Shreveport, La., was on the team. He was one-third of the best front line ever, along with Larry Bird and Kevin McHale. I loved the Los Angeles Lakers when Elgin Baylor and Jerry West were the stars. I loved covering the Portland Trail Blazers when they won their only NBA championship in 1977.
Back then, they played basketball the way it was meant to be played. I mean, if a guy stopped dribbling the ball-not palming it-and took a step, the refs called traveling! Can you believe that?! Now they let him take another step or two and dunk the ball.
Unfortunately for us hoops purists, the players get away with some of that in high school and college, so it's no wonder they keep doing it as pros.
I have to admit, though, that I did watch the Dallas Mavericks chill out the Miami Heat and LeBron James in last season's finals-not because I love the game anymore but because I wanted to see the so-called greatest team ever assembled get taken apart. I have to admit that I enjoyed it.
But that was then and this is now, so wake me when it's over.

Rick Woodson's column appears each Thursday on the Rochester Business Journal website at His book, "Words of Woodson," is available at Listen to his weekly program, "The Golf Tee," at 9 a.m. Sunday on WHTK-AM 1280 and FM 107.3.
12/1/11 (c) 2011 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail

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