Another year, another omission from the Globe and Mail's sports power 50 list; it gets a little easier to take each time, but not much. Oh well, we've perservered and rounded up seven items of interest from around the sports universe to go with your coffee. If I just keep pecking away maybe one day …
1. Coming to terms with our joy and shame:
Is the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili a scandal, in the sense that there was some obvious negligence that has been purposefully covered or obscured by vested interests?
I guess the answer is: we're not sure yet. My instinct is it's not. You would think the BC coroner would be above pressure to whitewash the circumstances that led to the accident that killed the Georgian luger, and they termed it an accident, just as the FIL did in their investigations. But things don't feel right, as we approach the anniversary of that fateful morning.
As Bruce Arthur writes: The problem is the answer we are given. VANOC talks about FIL, about changes to the track, about good intentions. Instead of admitting that the track could possibly be to blame, we get public relations.
Similarly Stephen Brunt is feeling uneasy about the whole thing. Did the time and place obscure our judgement?: For all of the solemn words, and the acknowledgment during the opening ceremonies, Kumaritashvili's death would become the asterisk attached, the speed bump before things kicked into high gear, the unexpected obstacle overcome, the challenge for organizers to surmount. The stories were written, the right questions were asked, the explanations challenged, the hands wrung. But then, the Olympics continued, a far more pleasing story unfolded, and by the time Sidney Crosby scored his golden goal, the cherry on top of Canada's sundae, Kumaritashvili was all but forgotten. That is not simply a function of the massive corporate and media interests (including this newspaper, which was part of the Olympic media consortium), which had a vested interest in the Games' success, but also of human nature. Swept away by happy thoughts and good feelings and a sense of national community, there would be no dwelling on an unpleasant moment past, on the tragedy of an obscure athlete in an obscure sport from a faraway nation.
Nodar Kumaritashvili deserved better than that, from a whole lot of people. And he sure didn't deserve to die.
2. They just don't make sports writing like this anymore -- an ode the Packers:
I got to know Dave Anderson from the New York Times a little bit when I covered golf a lot. He told an incredible story about covering a New York Rangers-Montreal Canadiens game and how he didn't have time to finish his story before the Rangers charter train was leaving, and how he typed out his copy and handed it out the winder to a wireless operator from a moving train in a blizzard at the station in Plattsburg or something. I have never complained about a slow Internet connection since; or at least I try stop myself when I do. Anyway, Anderson, 82, watched the Packers Super Bowl win with a little more perspective than just about anyone on the planet: I knew Lombardi when he was the Giants' offensive coach in the 1950s, but I never really heard his voice that could melt snow until the Packers' 1962 championship game against the Giants at Yankee Stadium. With my newspaper, The New York Journal-American, on strike, Jim Kensil of the N.F.L. office asked me to be his sideline spotter on the Packers' bench. Confirm which player had recovered a fumble, be aware of injuries. Early in the game, Jim Taylor, the Packers' fullback, wobbled to the bench. In a pileup, somehow his upper teeth had been driven into his tongue and now, sitting next to where I was standing, he was spitting blood as if he had opened an artery. Soon, with the Giants about to punt, Lombardi's booming voice penetrated the brutal cold with a wind that was blowing Giant quarterback Y. A. Tittle's passes this way and that. "Taylor!" Lombardi roared. "Taylor!" With another spit of blood, Taylor stood up, put on his green and gold helmet, turned and trotted onto the field with the offense. He went on to gain 85 yards on a record 31 carries for a championship game. The Packers won, 16-7.
3. The information/misinformation around Sidney Crosby in full-swing.
Until Crosby is cleared to play and takes the ice, there will be a lot of speculation about when he'll be able cleared to play and take the ice. Here is an interesting sample of the back-and-forth - Crosby has begun working out; Crosby's still got symptoms etc. - coming out of Pittsburgh right now.
4. Whitecaps draft pick so good he might not play for the Whitecaps very long: