Wild, wacky, wonderful and sometimes disturbing world of sports

For those of you who read this column faithfully week after week (and I appreciate both of you), I’m sure you were expecting to see my annual salute to the champions story that ends the bowling season. I told you it was coming, and to put it bluntly, I lied. You see, Mother Nature threw me a curveball and I had to call an audible.

With the grass now green, the flowers in bloom and the temperatures rising, I suppose many of you have forgotten about the winter we just experienced. In case your memory is a little rusty, this past winter was – pure and simple – nasty. The brutal cold and record breaking snowfall caused bowling leagues to cancel on more than one occasion. Therefore at least two leagues will have their roll offs this coming week. I didn’t want to exclude them, thus the change.

Though bowling and golf are the sports I participate in and write about, I still watch many other sporting events. Whether in person or on the tube, I keep track of several different sports. So that is what I am going to write about this week. I’ll wrap up bowling next Sunday.

I watched the Kentucky Derby yesterday and will be in front of the TV this afternoon watching NASCAR Sprint Cup action, but since I already used baseball and football terminology – let’s start there.

The major league baseball season is only a month old, but I’m already hearing a little grumbling from some Tribe fans. I understand where it is coming from. The team is not clicking on all cylinders yet. For those of us who have followed them for years, there is always the concern that things may not improve. I mean, we’ve been there, seen that.

My suggestion is that you give things another couple of months. By then we will have a better idea just how good this current team can be. I think they have a good nucleus and will start playing better as the weather warms up. Can the Indians have another run to the playoffs like the wild ride they gave us last season? I think so. At any rate it was nice to see the bats break out on Friday.

This coming week is the NFL draft. After making some offseason acquisitions, the Cleveland Browns have two first round picks in the draft. With most people thinking drafting a quarterback is the top priority (will Johnny Football still be available at No. 4?) many are looking at WR Sammy Watkins first – pairing him with Josh Gordon does seem exciting – and saving the QB position for the 26th selection.

Whatever happens, two things are certain: The results of the draft won’t likely be known for a few years down the road and with teams trading up or down the line, it is likely to be a wacky day. Here’s hoping you like what your favorite team accomplishes.

I don’t know what you think about the Northwestern University football team voting on whether to unionize, but for me the word would be disturbing. The concept of paying college athletes seems wrong to this fan, but the idea of allowing college athletes to form a union is just bizarre.

When I went to college – a few years ago – I had the opportunity to get a job on campus that paid me minimum wage. My first job was washing pots and pans in the dining hall. This allowed me to have some spending money. I could visualize paying college athletes for hours spent practicing or playing games. Since they conceivably don’t have time for an on campus job, this would seem fair.

Beyond that, paying them and allowing them to unionize is, well, disturbing. Bonnie Tiell had a great look at the issue in the A-T earlier this week. I don’t see the union concept catching on, but I do believe it will make people look into some of the issues college athletes legitimately have. It is a complicated situation and dialogue is needed to determine where all that money that is generated should go.

Admittedly, I am not a big fan of the NBA. The first-round playoff series, though, have been very compelling this year. Unfortunately the games are not what everyone is talking about. If you follow sports at all, you are aware of the case of Donald Sterling, the current – if not for long – owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.

An audio tape surfaced with (allegedly) Mr. Sterling saying some words that were more than a little disturbing. His racist comments were met swiftly by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announcement of a lifetime ban for Sterling, a big fine and a commitment to try to get the other owners to try to force a sale of the Clippers.

I have blogged about the topic on the A-T website, so I will not go into a lot of detail here. For now let it suffice for me to say that I respect Donald Sterling’s right to voice his views. We do have freedom of speech in this country, no matter how much we detest what is being said.

I hope he will respect my right to view him as an arrogant, pompous, bigoted man who the NBA is justified to exclude from its membership. The key word here is respect and that is something people should extend to each other all the time. Donald Sterling apparently does not understand that concept.

Sterling’s views have no place in any aspect of life including the wild, wacky, wonderful and yes, sometimes disturbing, world of sports.

Al Stephenson is The A-T’s bowling columnist.

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