Saturday, May 10, 2008

5 Controversies in 5 Months

We are just into the 5th month of 2008 and there are plenty of sports controversies to talk about for the year so far. From videotaped spying to jerseys causing a big ruckus, there's plenty of buzz about misconduct, miscues, and otherwise odd behavior. Controversies are sometimes contrived with a tongue-in-cheek flavor; however they mostly have a dark or ill-fated nature. Here are five of the most talked about so far:

1. Patriots, lies, and videotape: The New England Patriots have caused quite a stir with the whole “Spygate” controversy. Although this started last year, the recent acquisition of more evidence has brought this back into the forefront. Depending on where you live you are either undaunted by the allegations or now have fuel for the fire. It is apparent that Bill Belichick has done this for his entire tenure as the head coach. Some believe that there is much more to the team’s “dynasty” and this only scratches the surface. Are there more secrets to the Patriots success? How is it that they get so many seemingly money-loving players to work for a fraction of their usual pay? Is everyone just jealous? Only time will tell.

2. The Roger Clemens saga: After being named in the Mitchell Report last year, Clemens continues to cement his place as the poster boy for all that is wrong in professional sports. Allegations come out of the woodwork to add to his woes with reported extra-martial affairs, inappropriate relations with minors, and whatever other character flaw you can come up with. Did he just make the wrong people mad? Is he a real jerk that deserves all of this?

3. The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry: A Red Sox fan got a job at the new Yankee stadium construction site and promptly buried a David Ortiz jersey in the concrete. The news coverage this received made it seem like someone had conspired to assassinate the president. Fortunately, it ended up in a very positive way when the offending article of clothing was auctioned off for charity. Unfortunately, the rivalry turned very ugly in a completely unrelated incident. One Yankees fan allegedly ran down and killed a Red Sox fan. The events leading up to the unfortunate tryst reportedly included a lot of trash talking and fist hurling. Matthew Beaudoin was only 29 when he was struck by a car and killed in a rivalry-gone-very wrong confrontation. This has further polarized fans on both sides. Some believe the Sox should memorialize the man who lost his life while others claim this would only reward bad behavior. Bottom line – no one deserves to die for something like this. When everyone around is a sports fan, this should be something that unifies and brings people together. There is never a reason to take the situation to the level of violence.

4. Ocho-stinko: NFL star Chad Johnson won’t stop complaining. He wants a trade and will embarrass everyone, including himself, to get it. He’s gone on nearly every sports show to make his case, starting at the beginning of the year. The Bengals have stuck by their guns and said they will not give in. The entire mess has become a highly-publicized spitting contest between Johnson and the team. On one hand, a player has a right to be on a productive franchise and have a successful career that they control. On the other hand, teams cannot give in to every prima donna that thinks they are better than the system.

5. Heisman runner-up to run out of town: 1999 Heisman Trophy runner-up Joe Hamilton took an assistant coaching position with the esteemed Georgia Tech football team. He then drove on campus and hit another vehicle, took off, and was later arrested for the hit and a DUI. Just two weeks after securing the position, he tenders his resignation.

Of course, there are actually many more than five so far this year. Other blips of varying size on the sports controversy radar have occurred like Matt Leinart and the party photos, LeBron James is a bad tipper, John Daly is a party Viking, a David Beckham jersey can ruin friendships, the Rocky statue in Philly is actually a Pens fan, a day of boating turns ugly, the NFL network won’t stop covering the draft, Barry Bonds remains unsigned and refuses to retire, and mascots cause lawsuits.

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