Are rules hard to follow these days?

Marc Elliott

PIKE LAKE  – With the hockey world in its summer break, I have had time to look over some other sports and topics that I might not have the time to do during the busy NHL season. Of course, I always have time for horse racing. With various “meets” going on at some of the prominent tracks I’ve been taking in a lot of the ponies.

Right now the late spring-early summer meet at the famed Belmont Park facility just ended. For jockeys, Jose Ortiz won the jockey’s part of the meet with 59 first-place finishes. His brother Irad Ortiz Jr had 58. The attention has now shifted to Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and Saratoga Park.

This town became famous for its mineral springs and baths so the track is now affectionately known as “The Spa.” Whatever you wish to call it, the Ortiz brothers posted 14 firsts in the first four days of racing. Irad ran away with the jockey’s title here last season.

The MLB All-Star game has come and gone. For the first time in 10 tilts the National League posted a victory with a 3-2 win in regulation. I have been keeping a close eye on our Twins, even as MLB has made it increasingly harder to view and/or listen to the games. This has made me quite jealous of my niece Kelly Jo, who is a member of the club’s Private Suites-Guest Services team. She is at EVERY game!

As for the team, the boys are in first in a weakened Central division, are barely more than .500, and they are either pitching or hitting, but are rarely doing both at the same time this year.

And wonder of wonders, I have even watched televised SOCCER! Is it desperation? I’m just not sure. I used to play the game on a limited scale and have used it for summertime dryland hockey cardio training. But it has never held my attention for long as far as watching it goes. But there was a tournament going on, something known as the CONCACAF Gold Cup. It is an association of North and Central American and Caribbean Nation teams playing off to a final, which was played this evening between Mexico and Panama, the team that eliminated the U.S. club. Mexico took the Cup in a 1-0 contest. The group has been in existence since 1961.

The Women’s World Cup will begin soon, and I haven’t missed one of these in a long time. If I’m not a big fan of the sport why do I watch this? The USWNT is an epic story. They have been either the best team or one of them for several years standing now. This is a remarkable group and collection of talent and personalities. I watch them, I support them and they are among the best.

No matter what, I still enjoy observing humans in sports competitions. And believe me, these players are ultra-competitive. I enjoy the psychological part of it. The U.S. team is favored at +225, followed by England at +375 and Germany at +650. The first USA tilt is Friday evening versus Vietnam. Even if there is next to no hockey to be watched, there is still plenty of sports action on tap. Not all of it is on the field of play though.

In the quite recent past I have come upon many stories of individual malfeasance of one sort or the other at the collegiate and professional level. It’s a bit disheartening for someone who loves the sporting world so much to see the degradation taking place. Much of what I have seen or read about is in the form of individuals doing things you normally wouldn’t expect from them that in turn often converts into negative consequences for the teams involved. Just last week a college football coach I have long admired was first suspended for some hazing incidents involving his team and then summarily dismissed from the university altogether.

Pat Fitzgerald from Northwestern University was terminated last week when a hazing scandal could not be quieted any longer. Fitzgerald stated that he knew nothing about the incidents in question while others have alleged that the behaviors had existed in the program for multiple seasons. As is usually the case the hazing incidents reported were degrading and often sexual. And even after considering “Fitz” to be a clean-cut straight shooter for years I find it extremely hard to believe that he didn’t have at least some knowledge of what was going on.

A great many upper-level football coaches are total control freaks. I don’t know personally that Fitz is, but the whole ostrich-head-in-the-sand thing does not add up for me. Within days of that, the school fired Head Baseball Coach Jim Foster about allegations that his program had some similar issues. West Virginia Basketball Coach Bob Huggins recently resigned after his arrest for suspicion of drunken driving.

That decision came after a recent 3-game suspension for the use of an anti-gay slur while also degrading Catholics during a radio interview. He now says he never resigned and wants his job back. I’m sorry Dude, but you blew a .21% on the device and your interview was digitally recorded.

No matter how hard you try to walk back your ignorance and stupidity, I have a strong feeling that it isn’t going to work. At first, and after resigning, you said you were now “retired,” which would probably be your best path. I mean, I’m not a “life coach” or anything of the sort, but I’m thinking you don’t have much to go on here. You might want to consider that ride into the sunset. 

Former Montreal Canadien first-round draft pick, and former Minnesota Wild player Alex Galchenyuk signed a one-year deal with the ARI Coyotes on July 1. It was a one year-two way deal. Sometime shortly after that he went out to celebrate, is alleged to have become extremely intoxicated from alcohol, was involved in a hit and run, got arrested and threatened to do several negative physical things to law enforcement officers on the scene.

The former third-overall selection had his contract terminated by the Coyotes ,who then placed him on unconditional waivers for release. Is any of this to be considered “new news”? Sadly, no. The sports world is a big place and the percentage of negative events from is probably close to the percentage of our society in general. But these are supposed to be accomplished people who should know better right? That’s what we would believe or desire to believe was the reality. But it isn’t.

After some careful thought, some people in the sporting realm believe they are beyond reproach. I’ve seen some of them. Others make some mistakes. And with their profession and own jobs under a pretty big microscope you can’t run or hide.

Maybe it isn’t fair sometimes, but no one was forced to take these jobs. In a country where ethics and integrity are in short supply, it still seems to be the best path available. Every time. PEACE