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Daze to remember ...

Back in the hey-day of journalism and sports, we used to read four papers a day, always starting with the sports pages. We loved the newspapers and particularly the great columnists like Joe Williams, Jimmy Cannon, Bill Heinz, and Dick Young.

It seems incredible, but every evening at nine, we used to get into a line in front of our newsstand and wait for the bulldog edition of The Daily News. Dick Young's column was the desert after dinner. Who was he going to dust off or straighten out this time? What did he approve of or dislike on the fields of friendly strife? Who did he think was going to win the World Series or upset the favorite in the Kentucky Derby?

He had no qualms about playing in the gutter and he wasn't a "great" writer, but he had a spark, a style, a way of "talking" that was mesmerizing. His column, usually on baseball, was the most compulsive read in town.

All of these thoughts passed through our mind one Saturday morning on the 20th of September while we were reading all the news that the New York Times told us was fit to print.

Nothing earthshaking had occurred over the past 24 hours, but there were always the box scores and human interest stories and the generally good writing to stimulate and entertain.

Plus, one other thing, an ugly little disquieting trend in sports journalism--the many little splotches of news that made you realize that a lot of bad stuff was going on in sports.

September 20th must have been a red-letter day for the muckrakers. Check the seven sweaty little notes that appeared in the sports section of the Times that day:

* Maurice Clarett was suspended by Ohio State University for a year for lying to investigators about accepting extra benefits.

* Patrick Graber is arrested as part of a $3 million plot to murder the woman who has accused Kobe Bryant, Lakers super star, of sexual assault. Kobe admits, "I am an adulterer, but not an abuser."

* Lawyers in several states may soon be suing the NCAA for $2,000 to $3,000 to pay for the little things that go with the athletes' scholarship, such as tooth paste, deodorant, phone calls, etc. (Final question: Who pays for the chewing gum, subway tokens, and shoeshines?)

* The U. of Michigan may sue Chris Webber to reimburse them for the $695,000 in legal fees and losses from NCAA penalties.

* Mike Shanahan lies to the media about the injury status of his star quarterback, Jake Plummer, with the Denver Broncos.

* The most unbelievable episode in high school sports this year involved the Mepham H.S. (Long Island, NY) football team in pre-season training. Three varsity players aged 15, 16, and 17, sodomized three JV players with a broomstick. One of the victims reported the incident to the police. (The five coaches did not sleep on the same premises with the players and were unaware of what had occurred.)

* The mother of a high school football player in McMinnville, TN issuing the football coach for $20 million for throwing a helmet during a heated halftime speech. It struck the woman's son on the head and opened a wound that required 10 stitches.
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Title Annotation:sports journalism
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2004
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