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Published:July 27th, 2007 10:33 EST
American Sports In Crisis: Whatever Happened To Character

American Sports In Crisis: Whatever Happened To Character

By John Lillpop

Does Sports Builds Character--or unsavory characters?

Competitive sports programs have long been touted as a means for building character in young people. Advocates claim that vital lessons in disciple, teamwork, dealing with authority, moral turpitude, and ethics can accrue to those engaged in sports. However, contrary to the wisdom, which holds that hitting a baseball, tackling a runner, or blocking a dunk attempt can build character, current events indicate quite the opposite.

The fact is that the top three major sports in America are embroiled in meltdown, or near meltdown, because of moral and legal transgressions on the part of athletes and a referee.

Most egregious and harrowing is the situation in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

According to reports, the Mafia was able to bribe former NBA referee Tom Donaghy into making calls that enabled the Mafia to win gambling bets based on total points scored.

Has there ever been a more devastating moment in the history of professional sports? The Mafia in control of scoring on the basketball court?

While NBA Commissioner David Stern fights an uphill battle to retain a semblance of integrity for professional basketball, the National Football League is navigating its own minefield in the Michael Vick animal abuse scandal.

Vick was arraigned on July 26 and pleaded (shock!) not guilty. His trial begins on November 26, which means the airwaves will be overwhelmed with Vick mania during the holidays.

All of which begs an urgent question: Is Michael Vick still on the Christmas card mailing list of Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons? How about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Meanwhile, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig works full time to come up with a reasonable way to deal with the Barry Bonds kerfuffel.

His task is formidable because while Selig wants to fully celebrate Bonds` 756th home run as a monumental occasion, he wishes just as passionately to ignore the moment.

Here is a possible solution, Bud: Declare yourself temporarily brain dead and unable to function as commissioner until further notice.

Fans would immediately accept such a scam and the media since most already believe you are brain dead.

The tricky part will come after Bonds launches 756 on someone else`s watch and Selig tries to reclaim the powers of the commissioner, sans responsibility of course.

The current crises in sports should be a wake up call to parents throughout America. A new message concerning the rearing of children might read like this:

In dealing with youngsters displaying a clear pre-disposition to becoming murderers, robbers, drug dealers, rapists, and abusers of dogs, forget salvation through sports.

Instead, send the brats to reform schools where they will have their wiry butts pounded into submission!

John Lillpop is a recovering liberal.