Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Some Sports Thoughts

--Does anyone outside of southern Illinois realize that SIU-Carbondale is the holder of the longest Division 1 basketball, home-court, winning streak in the country? Even our St. Louis papers managed to take notice after last night's Salukis win over Creighton. But it wasn't front page of the sports section. Even the News-Democrat, southern Illinois' largest daily-circulation paper relegated the news to halfway down on page 3 of the sports section. There were some highlights on the 10 o'clock news, but only as an afterthought. If it was SLU, or Mizzou, the story would have been big news everywhere.

The SIU system has 34,000 students currently enrolled. 13,000 at Edwardsville...admittedly a different campus..but still with a kinship to SIU-C which has 21,000 students. You would think these numbers alone should put SIU sports on the radar. Amazing how Southern Illinois University athletics, even though there are many St. Louis area students, parents, and alumni, gets glossed over continuously in the St. Louis media until something earth-shattering happens. I don't get it. Never have, never will.

--Back in 1988, I was excited to be the p.a. man at the old Arena for the NHL All-Star game. If you were an NHL fan in those days, you'll remember the program for the game featured a picture of Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux facing off with an image of the Arch in the background. I still have a copy of the program...somewhere...and the memories of the game itself are fresh in my mind. For one thing, it's the only game at which I ever wore a tux.

The other part of that night still fresh in my mind is the unbelievable dominance that Lemieux displayed on the ice. He scored a hat trick and had a couple of assists to go along with his goals. He was named the MVP of the game and stood right next to me in the penalty box before going out on the ice to receive the Dodge pickup truck he was awarded for his night's work. He was huge...besides being hugely talented. If Gretzky was better than Lemieux, you wouldn't have known it, or imagined it, that night.

I was sorry to see Mario sadly announcing his retirement...again..from hockey yesterday. He was certainly an amazing player and ambassador for the sport. Hopefully, they'll be able to get the arena situation worked out in Pittsburgh so the Penguins can stay there for a while. That's what Mario seems to want.

--Buried in the sports news of the day is the fact that the NBA "in the stands" incident of last week will be settled without any further fanfare or legal action. You'll remember Kendra Davis, wife of Knicks player Antonio Davis, got into it with Bulls fan Michael Axelrod in Chicago. They apparently exchanged words and Axelrod says Ms. Davis put her hands on his face during the "discussion" they were having. This caused Mr. Davis to leave the court and enter the stands in an effort to protect his wife and family....for which he was suspended for 5 games by the league. The NBA has a strict policy against players going into the stands for any reason.

The story I see this morning says that both sides in the dispute agreed that it's time to "move on". Wow! These things usually blow up into enormous pissing contests and opportunities for legal reps to make a killing. Can it be possible that in our litigious society somebody actually had the good sense to settle something without the lawyers enjoying a huge payday? Maybe there's more to the story than we are getting because lawyers don't cut themselves out of many deals.

A Chicago Tribune story says that Axelrod's father....a prominent political type in Chicago...and Davis's agent Bill Duffy... worked out an agreement over the weekend. Maybe these guys could bottle whatever it is that they used to effect this compromise and sell it to some guys in Washington.

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