Sports are in trouble today

Matt Hawkins and Matt Hawkins

Did Boston’s famous curse rub off onto the rest of pro sports?

It seemed like just yesterday (about a month ago) when I wrote about how the many surprises in sports could soon result in the world of professional sports coming to an end. The recent unpredictable upsets plaguing sports–from the curse-ridden Red Sox winning the World Series to the Detroit Pistons’ surprise blowout of the LA Lakers in the NBA Finals — convinced me something was bound to happen. Sure enough my prediction has become a reality.

This time however, the demise of pro sports hasn’t been due to any particular team overcoming obstacles to defeat a dominant powerhouse, but what has happened aside from the actual game itself. It appears pro athletes have gotten away from what they’re paid millions of dollars to do — to play for the fans.

By now you’re probably all too familiar with that infamous night, November 19th in Auburn Hills, MI which ruined the image of the NBA and tarnished the reputation of previous basketball greats associated with the league. Just hearing the name Ron Artest makes me want to puke.

Last season, he prevented Detroit’s Ben Wallace from winning his third consecutive Defensive Player of the Year award, so Wallace took his anger out on Artest on that unforgettable night, which started the entire fiasco.

What Big Ben did was understandable.

After all, Artest had made headlines a week earlier by asking for a month off to promote his rap album, which already sent messages across the league showing where he places basketball on his list of priorities.

But what Artest did in Detroit that night was totally uncalled for, and he shouldn’t be allowed to wear an NBA jersey ever again.

The NBA is a sport built from the fans, and for the fans. So when Artest stormed into the seats he essentially attacked his main source of income, and thus should be “fired” as a result. Stephen Jackson, who assisted Artest in throwing down with a few fans should get a similar treatment but allowed back in a few years pending good behavior. Jermaine O’Neal didn’t enter the stands, but he did slug a Pistons fan on the court. A one-year suspension would be a reasonable punishment for him.

Baseball fans haven’t had much to look forward to either. After Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield — all among the best in baseball — admitted to using steroids, you wonder how many other players are using illegal substances.

But with similar steroid accusations lingering over the past few years, it’s no wonder that a story of this magnitude hadn’t surfaced much sooner.

Every season since 1998 has seen over 5,000 home runs crushed over ball park fences.

But before 1995, home run totals exceeded the 4,000 mark for a season only twice (in 1987 and 1993).

Just by looking at most major league baseball players it should be obvious that steroids have been a factor for years. For many fans, especially young kids, these guys are heroes. That could soon change.

Of course even the NHL has had its share of bad publicity. With more and more hockey players leaving for Europe, it doesn’t look good for hockey fans. At this rate, the Tampa Bay Lighting may never get to defend their Stanley Cup Championship.

The NBA and MLB both had possibly the biggest championship series upsets in their respective league histories this past year and now both sports are preparing for the worst situations they’ve ever had to face. If the Miami Dolphins win the Super Bowl next season, prepare for the worst in sports.