Pete Rose et al
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This is Diana Nyad for KCRW. And this is The Score.
Yet again, Pete Rose's potential eligibility for the Baseball Hall of Fame has come and gone. I'm with the pro-Pete faction. Yes, he gambled on Major League Baseball while still in the game. Illegal. He even bet on his own team. Egregiously over the line. And then he lied about it all, for years. Well, Gaylord Perry isn't the only Hall of Famer who admits to throwing illegal spitballs. And with careful biographical research, we can find racists and rapists and tax dodgers and hitters who swung corked bats, all safely and supposedly honorably ensconced in the hallowed Hall of Fame.
The halls of justice can judge Pete Rose for breaking the law. All I remember is that thick head of hair flying, that facial expression ferocious as Pete "Charlie Hustle" dived with all his heart head-first into second base, third base, and home. Pete Rose played Hall of Fame ball. He's going to be inducted one day. But at this rate, it just might be a posthumous occasion.
Former Swiss tennis star Martina Hingis announced this week that she'll be coming out of retirement, after basically a three-year hiatus from the game. I'm not usually one for quashing an athlete's dreams. Hingis, after all, won 25 Grand Slam singles titles and is only 25 years old now. But the game has grown exponentially since her hay day. And the players have grown as well. Hingis is 5'6" with a slight build, precisely Chris Evert's size. In her prime, Chris stated that the powerful likes of Martina Navratilova were muscling their way to taking over the elite level and she felt lucky to get out, 15 years ago, before the sport outgrew her. Well, another generation has now grown up and they tower over even Navratilova. The giants, almost literally, of the women's game today are Lindsay Davenport at 6'2", Venus Williams 6'1", Maria Sharapova 6', Elena Dementieva 5'11". Not that size is the only factor in tennis. Hingis proved a few years ago that great shot making and competitive focus can overcome lack of power. But Hingis will now face Amazon after Amazon across the net. I wish Ms. Hingis luck but expect hers to be a short-lived comeback. The game hasn't so much passed her by as it has passed her up.
A study out this week has found that some two million kids in this country are somehow abused by their coaches. The report, looking at kids aged 9 to 15, chronicles one in ten coaches admitting to cheating. 27% behaved as poor sports, including arguing with officials and going so far as trying to hurt an opponent. Many of the coaches in the study admitted to yelling at and sometimes even striking their charges. The truth is, none of us should be a bit surprised by these findings. Just this week, a college football coach was caught, on television to boot, inching the sideline chains ahead to give his team a first down. Blatant cheating by a coach whose job is supposed to be leading his young players into citizenry and manhood. This week an NBA coach, George Karl, was suspended for two games for arguing and insulting refs. The lesson learned from his players is that their coach will sacrifice himself to defend their honor instead of paying due respect to the referees of the game.
I covered the Pop Warner Super Bowl a few years ago. We put microphones on coaches for a couple of weeks before the championship game. Back in the edit bay, we sat stunned to hear the unforgiving berating these coaches heaped on 10 and 11-year-olds. The misogynist language, the truly offensive expletives, delivered with high-pitched anger. In prepping the story, we traveled across the country to talk to parents and kids and other coaches, to discover that this abusive behavior is more the norm than the anomaly.
The leaders of Congress should spend more time on this issue than on steroids at the professional level. We need to wrangle these coaches and give our kids a chance to learn the valor of sport.
This is Diana Nyad for KCRW. And that's The Score.
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