Welcome to our weekly exercise in variety. You’ve seen these before – a columnist puts down thoughts on a couple of various sports topics or items that roughly have something to do with sports. This is our version.
Chuck Muncie will certainly go down as one of the best running backs in New Orleans Saints history.
He died this week at 60 from a heart attack and it’s a testament to what he did in his short time in New Orleans that so many people took to Twitter to wax poetic about what he meant to the Saints.
He ran for nearly 3,400 yards in four seasons, scoring 28 touchdowns in those years with New Orleans. And in nine years in the NFL, he finished with more than 6,700 yards rushing and 74 total touchdowns, including a 19-touchdown 1981.
His career derailed, however, when he was suspended for the 1984 season after he tested positive for cocaine. He never recovered and, in 1989, found his way into prison for selling cocaine.
But the Muncie story isn’t about football. It’s about redemption and it’s about helping people escape the path he went down in time for saving their lives.
In fact, it’s a story from which some in the NFL – and all sports – could learn (read: Young, Titus and his three arrests in a week).
And what is it that they can learn?
Muncie turned his life around. After being released from prison, he spent the rest of his life helping youngsters who were disadvantaged, those most likely to follow the path that failed him.
He eventually started a foundation to help him with that task.
We spend too much time as a society lifting athletes to levels that maybe they shouldn’t be at.
Muncie understood this.
But he also understood something else – that without his story, he would have had a much more difficult time affecting children. Muncie turned a negative into a positive, showing those who needed it most that it’s never too late to turn things around.
So while people will undoubtedly remember what Muncie did on the field and what he could have been, we shouldn’t forget what he did off of it and what he was to many.
And what he did off of it was every bit as impressive as what he did on it.
Racism rears its ugly head in Italian soccer
It’s likely not going to be news that soccer fans in Europe march to a different beat. What they get away with would, and shouldn’t be, tolerated.
This past weekend, rampant racism halted a match between AC Milan and AS Roma when Roma fans abused Milan’s Mario Balotelli.
Fans threw insults his way near the end of the first half. Unfortunately, there’s already a set of rules governing a routine that must be followed when this happens in Italy because this sort of thing happens often enough.
The match is stopped, an announcement is made condemning the racist chants and, should it continue, the match would be stopped for good.
It shouldn’t come to that. Racism should never be tolerated, let alone at a sporting event.
Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri is onto something when he says matches should be suspended immediately.
Already, Roma was fined $65,000.
The solution should go further.
Soccer standings are unlike those in traditional American sports. Wins and ties earn points while losses do not. The big money in European soccer has to do with finishing near the top of the table, qualifying the teams for major continental tournaments.
So beyond fining teams, dock them points. Dock them a ton of points. Knocking them out of the Champions League or Europa League or worse, into the relegation zone, would speak volumes and force clubs into stronger vigilance.
And when that fails, keep fans out of matches. They already do that when violence occurs. Racism should be treated no differently.
In fact, it is violence in its own right.
Unlike many in this country who hate soccer, I enjoy it. But this is one area where I agree with even the most ardent of those who dislike the sport.
NBA owners stand tall, won’t be strong-armed
After years of uncertainty, the Sacramento Kings are … staying in Sacramento.
Chalk that up as a win for every New Orleans, Memphis, Charlotte, etc., etc., etc., in the league. That is, every small market franchise.
The situation is an awkward one for the league. The Maloofs basically held hostage the league and two cities.
They got equal bids for the franchise they wanted to sell and being that Sacramento always has supported the Kings through thick and thin, you’d think the Maloofs would be all right keeping the team there.
But they were more interested in moving basketball back to Seattle, which lost its franchise to Oklahoma City in the past decade.
The league’s owners balked, voting 22-8 against relocation this week.
So now, in this free-market society, rich men will be kept from selling a franchise to other rich men by rich people. You still following?
Regardless of who is keeping whom from selling what, I’d like to think a Sacramento win is a good thing for all. The city supports and has supported the team. Kevin Johnson, the mayor and a former a NBA player, put together a quality bid that matched that of the group who wanted to move the team.
The only reason to move the team at this point would be out of spite from the Maloofs and being that they’re selling the franchise, that shouldn’t matter.
In other words, it’s probably a good thing they’re getting out of the NBA.
Tiger under more scrutiny than he deserves
This past weekend, Tiger Woods once again was at the center of a ball drop controversy.
And the question immediately popped into my mind wondering if we’ve hit a point where Woods is receiving more scrutiny than anyone else on tour.
Sure, when you’ve got the skill that he does and when you’re life has been as public as his has, the spotlight shines brighter and the magnification on the microscope is greater.
But are we holding him to a different level than anybody else on tour and, if so, is that fair?
It strikes me as odd that now that his personal life has become what it has, he suddenly isn’t taking proper drops, that he suddenly is cheating the game.
Woods likely hasn’t changed how he approaches the game from a rules standpoint. Only our vision of who he is has changed.
At what point do we stop holding him to a different standard because of it?