Monday, January 02, 2006

Slant-N-Go: No Loyalty

This appeared in the Daily Star's Jan. 1 edition. Happy New Year, bitches!!!!!!

BTW: I'll do my best to update this thing more regularly

The year 2005 has ended, and many folks out there compiled or read the obligatory "year-in-review" columns and checklists.
The obvious stories will get mentioned, such as Hurricane Katrina's impact, Lance Armstrong winning his upteenth-straight Tour deFrance and Rafael Palmeiro's pontificating before Congress before he was netted in Major League Baseball's steroids dragnet...and his subsequent backtracking and double-talk.
However, there is one word that may be easily omitted from these glimpses in recent sports history—loyalty. Sports fans, from the die-hard aficionados to the most casual, were dealt with lessons reminding them that loyalty to sports is sort of like your uncle's 8-track player: totally useless in this day and age.
Think about it for a second, or two or maybe even three. There were some not-so-shining examples of disloyalty in the previous 52 weeks. The list is littered with literally Who's Who in the world of sports. Only the reality TV show "Cheaters" displayed as much disloyalty in 2005.
Now, this is not limited to the athletes themselves. That would have been too easy. Disloyalty in sports is like skin, it goes from top to bottom. So for every Ron Artest trade demand or Terrell Owens tirade, there's a Tom Benson trying to Baltimore Colts the New Orleans Saints to San Antonio or Larry Brown playing the runaway bride with his coaching jobs for the -nth time.
Speaking of Larry Brown, it seemed like he finally settled down this time a year ago with a Detroit team built around his mantra of "playing the right way." He sold the Pistons out as he entertained job offers and rumors during the playoffs and bolted to the Knicks after the season ended. What did Detroit do? They went got a coach, Flip Saunders, who was malcontented out of Minnesota. The results: Well, Detroit has the NBA's best record while the Knicks look destined to watch the ping-pong balls of the NBA lottery this summer.
Down in Miami, Pat Riley basically strongarmed Stan Van Gundy out of the Heat's head coaching job. That statement Van Gundy, virtually a long-time employee of the Heat, gave was pure trash. If Van Gundy really quit the job to stay with his family more, then Osama bin Laden will show up in Las Vegas to compete in the next World Series of Poker.
So what about Johnny Damon leaving icon status and his facial hair behind in Boston to don the pinstripes of the "Evil Empire?" That's no different from when Art Modell hauled the original Cleveland Browns out of the city, dressed them in purple and named them the Baltimore Ravens.
Also, so what if T.O. was trying to extort the Eagles for more money? Benson has extorted the state for years while the family that owns the Arizona Cardinals extorted that state's Tourism and Sports Authority for an estimated $355 million to build a new stadium for a losing team. By the way, the state is paying for 75 percent of the construction.
Maybe loyalty has a price tag. If so, then sports fans should just put down the Sports Illustrated, stop watching "Sportscenter" and begin watching "Rambo" movies and reading Soldier of Fortune.