I don't usually comment on politics, but this time I just can't hold myself back. This week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell met with former Patriots video assistant Matt Walsh to go over his account of the Patriots' videotaping practices. At the beginning of last season, the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick were punished for videotaping opposing teams' defensive signals. Walsh claimed he had more evidence and this week he brought it to Goodell. The result: Goodell says that everything Walsh provided substantiated what the league already knew and had already punished the Patriots for. End of story, right? Wrong.
Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter, avid Philadelphia Eagles fan, thinks that the investigation isn't enough and that the league did a shoddy and biased investigation. He wants an independent investigation of the scandal because, as he put it:
If you can cheat in the NFL, you can cheat in college, you can cheat in high school, you can cheat on your grade-school math test. There's no limit as to what you can do. I think they owe the public a lot more candor and a lot more credibility.
Correlation between videotaping signals and cheating on grade-school math tests aside, I can't imagine what else Specter wants aside from the Patriots being stripped of their Super Bowl victory and having the trophy handed over to the Eagles. He seems particularly perturbed (or "incensed", as he keeps saying) about their being a videotape of the Steelers during an AFC Championship game. Why this is a matter of Congress is beyond me. Specter even threatened that Congress would enforce an investigation if the NFL didn't do one themselves (which, of course, they just did and came to a conclusion on).
Fortunately, not everyone in Congress agrees with Specter. Senator Ted Kennedy from Massachusetts responded to Specter's issues with the following statement:
With the war in Iraq raging on, gasoline prices closing in on $4 a gallon, and Americans losing their homes at record rates to foreclosure, the United States Senate should be focusing on the real problems that Americans are struggling with.
This is one time that I'm happy to take ownership of Kennedy as a representative of Massachusetts. He hit the nail right on the head. As much as we'd like to think that sports are important, they pale in comparison to the real troubles that this country and its citizens are facing at the moment. The very thought that a one-man witch hunt of a professional sports team could sideline discussions about the economy, gas prices, or the war in Iraq irritates me to no end.
In business, we are always striving to deal with the biggest, most important issues first before going on to the more menial ones; I think Senator Specter has a severe case of misplaced priorities and his biased approach to this issue is a shameful example of how those in Washington can impose on others based on nothing more than a whim. Here's hoping that more rational heads can prevail at the Senate Judiciary Committee.
From time to time, I get kind of down about the state of the world. It seems like there's less compassion and consideration than yesterday with more and more people becoming increasingly self-centered. The news tends to celebrate individual accomplishments and leads with tragedies, while true acts of compassion are relegated to "in other news" sections of newspapers. This morning, I caught a story on SportsCenter that went a long way towards restoring my faith in humanity.
During a college softball game between Western Oregon and Central Washington, Western Oregon senior Sara Tucholsky hit her first-ever home run. The two teams were separated by a single game with the chance of going to the NCAA tournament on the line. It seemed like a perfect story for Tucholsky, but that story took a dramatic turn as she rounded first base. She missed tagging the base and then doubled back to touch it. In doing so, she tore her ACL and fell to the ground unable to get up under her own power. The other base runners had already tagged home and were back in the dugout. A little known fact: a home run is not an automatic run, you must touch all bases for it to count. She could have stayed at first base and been replaced by a pinch runner, but that would have counted only as a single.
No other offensive players are allowed to come onto the field; once they do, the play is dead and she is called out. Central Washington's Mallory Holtman, the division II owner of multiple softball offense records, realized that she could help Tucholsky without penalty. As she said, she knew Tucholsky from playing with her and knew how important a home run for a senior is. She and teammate Liz Wallace picked up Tucholsky and brought her to each base, making the home run official.
This is perhaps one of the most selfless acts that I've ever seen in sports. Being members of the opposing team and knowing that they would be down by 3 runs instead of 2, these two girls went above doing what was right: they redefined what right meant. For most people, right would have been to replace Tucholsky at first base with a pinch runner and say, "that's too bad, she's a gutsy kid." One could argue that that's exactly what would mappen in Major League Baseball or even men's college baseball. Is it that women really are just more caring and considerate? I don't think so; I think that these particular girls were more caring and considerate than most people regardless of gender.
The biggest shame about all of this is that the story was buried almost as quickly as it was reported. I searched for a good 10 minutes online to find a decent account of what actually happened. It wasn't on the front page of any major sports site. This is something that should be celebrated and talked about as often as possible. Kids should hear about this story and understand that this is what we call sportsmanship. Anyone who's ever played a sport should look inside themselves and ask if they would've done the same thing. And everyone should feel better that people like these girls exist.