Jewish World Review March 17, 2004 / 24 Adar, 5764

Keith Olbermann

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The reasons people are beginning to hate sports | The latest in sports news: A professional football player, who wanted to be traded to one team and wound up being traded to another, announced that his civil rights have been violated and he compared himself to Rosa Parks.

A hockey player remains in a Vancouver hospital with a broken neck while his league investigates the semi-annual life threatening assault by one player upon another.

And Congress today got its yearly visit from the commissioner of baseball, summoned this time, to testify about illegal steroid use by his players.

This Wednesday, it only seems to be emphasized: here are more reasons that people seem to be beginning to hate sports. It is the second time in four years that police in Vancouver will investigate an attack during a National Hockey League game. Monday night, repaying an old debt, Todd Bertuzzi of the Vancouver Canucks performed an triple header mover on Steve Moore of the Colorado Avalanche. Bertuzzi first grabbed Moore from behind, then he sucker punched him in the face, then he drove Moore's head into the ice. Moore is out for the season, the aggressor Bertuzzi is likely to be suspended for the rest of the season. He has been sat down indefinitely and after a disciplinary hearing Wednesday, he will learn his fate soon. Such hearings are becoming routine, as ordinary hockey-related violence is supplanted by what even the game's true thugs consider too much.

Another story that's beginning to make people hate sports is the steroid scandal hit Capitol Hill Wednesday. Whatever the percentage of people fed up with sports, the percentage of those fed up with politicians talking about sports has to be higher, still. Congress has conducted hearings about franchise moves, franchise contraction, recreational drug use by athletes, free agency, stadiums paid for by taxpayers, sports on TV, and three or four high-profile sessions on whether or not sports leagues should have anti-trust exceptions. Yet, they have never has never passed a major piece of legislation about professional sports.

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Today's blah-blah-blah was given by Commissioner Allen H. "Bud" Selig and player's union chief Donald Fehr, and the blah-blah-blah was received by the Senate commerce committee.

Within the cocoon of sports, steroid may or may not be much ado about nothing. In baseball particularly, since the 1920's, the owners have answered every scandal and every fall off in attendance, by increasing the ease with which players hit homeruns. Steroids and other muscle building cheating may, in fact, not be the evil, but the cure.

MSNBC's Natalie Allen, was among the fans at an exhibition game in Fort Myers, Florida, a game that involved the New York Yankees, the team that features two of the players at the center of the steroid storm: Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield.

The fans that Natalie talked to still paid their way into an exhibition baseball game, steroids or no steroids, and nobody's going to be boycotting the next Vancouver Canucks game over the latest on-ice mayhem.

The country used to be divided into two groups, sports fans and people who just were not interested. But, is conduct like we're seeing now creating a third class? People who really are beginning to hate sports?

Is all this beginning to make a layer of fans, either not be as devoted to the game, or sort of peel off in disgust?

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The writer hosts MSNBC's “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.” The news program, dedicated to all of the day’s top stories, telecasts weeknights, 8-9 p.m. ET. Comment by clicking here.

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