Sunday, January 30, 2011

Crazy About Sports

  This is the first weekend without a meaningful NFL game since last September and I can’t find anything on TV I want to watch. Given my choice, I’d be watching the Miami Heat play the Oklahoma City Thunder, but Matt wants to watch the X-Games and I don’t feel strongly enough about the NBA to either insist on my way or find a different TV to watch it on. I do want to watch the Celtics and Lakers play later on this afternoon. I’m not a big fan of either team, but I’ve liked Phil Jackson since he played for the Knicks in the 70’s and wrote about his drug experiences. I’ve always admired how he never left his free spirit ways and still found success at the highest levels.

  Last weekend Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler found himself in the center of a firestorm when he left the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers due to a sprained knee. With Bear backup QB Todd Collins ineffective and the team trailing 14-0, the Bears turned to their 3rd string quarterback Caleb Hanie to save their season. Hanie played the best of all 3 Bear quarterbacks and did manage to lead the team to 2 touchdowns, but also gave a touchdown back with a poorly thrown ball that was intercepted and ran back for a Packer score and sealed the Bears fate with another interception while leading the team down the field in an attempt to tie the score in the final minutes of the Packer’s 21-14 victory.

  Cutler did not seem in a lot of pain on the sideline and A lot of NFL players used the Twitter during the game to question Cutler’s pain threshold, heart, and manhood. It got worse after the game, when many fans burned their Jay Cutler Bear jerseys.

  I’m not sure what’s crazier, paying $150 dollars for a souvenir jersey for any team, or burning the jersey after paying for it. Maybe they were just gifts or five-fingered discounts so it didn’t matter. I wonder how many Bear fans realize that if Cutler had been hurt earlier, they might have won the game behind Caleb Hanie seeing as they outscored the Packers 14-7 when Hanie was the quarterback. Instead of cursing Cutler for not being tough enough to play with his sprained knee, Bear fans should be wishing he had pretended he was hurt in the first quarter.

  At the Austrailian Open Ladies finals match yesterday, Kim Clisters beat the Li Na, the first Chinese player to make a grand slam final. When Na won the first set, she had no complaints with the crowd, but as the match started to slip away in the next 2 sets, she got increasingly irritated at the crowd noise, at one point asking the chair umpire to ask the chinese spectators to quiet down ("Can you tell the Chinese don't teach me how to play tennis?"). I imagine there will be fewer Chinese citizens at the US Open in September than in nearby Australia, but since the New Yorkers will be even louder than her countrymen, I hope Na will invest in some earplugs between now and then.

  The Iowa Hawkeyes football team made the national headlines when 13 players were hospitalized for Rhabdomyolysis, a condition that occurs when muscle breaks down and dumps its contents into the bloodstream, causing partial kidney failure. The illness is related to extreme workouts and dehydration. All the players are expected to recover and many are already out of the hospital. More alarming than the sheer number of players hospitalized was that there have been no comments from the Iowa athletic director, football coach, or the strength and conditioning staff until this past Friday when Hawkeye head coach Kirk Ferentz said 5 players were out of the hospital and he has been talking to the parents. The university President and the state Board of Regents have started a probe with the results made known to the board of regents after 90 days. The whole affair seems to me to be a coverup to protect the Hawkeye football program. If one or 2 players had been hospitalized, I could see it as a couple of out of shape players, but 13? The Hawkeye strength and conditioning program has been long held as an example of turning lesser regarded players into NFL prospects and has received a lot of credit for the success of Ferentz’s Hawkeyes, but it sure looks as if someone was trying to accelerate the conditioning process. This is after a month where the Hawkeyes leading rusher and receiver both pleaded guilty to marijuana possession. I’m sure the results of the probe won’t be made public until long after the Hawkeye fans are back to being excited at the prospect of another football season and the hospitalized players are a distant memory.