Between The Lines
Between The Lines
I watched some golf this weekend as the PGA Tour makes its annual West-Coast swing to kick off the season and it struck me that there has been a ton of lousy news lately if you are a sports fan.
Tiger Woods went on to win the event at Torrey Pines in California and watching him made me think of how much bad news there has been around sports lately. Tiger's troubles are well documented and in the past, but many times when I watch him play I think about his scandal and the impact it had on the game of golf and his career. I still find myself rooting for Tiger to win, not sure why, as I did when I covered some of the major championships he won, including the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, his last major win.
I think, or at least I tell myself, that I root for Tiger to see sports history in my lifetime. His pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' major record of 18 wins has been and will be again this season, one of the more compelling story lines in the game. But as I was sitting there watching Tiger pull away from the field, my mind wandered to the many recent scandals that have plagued the world of sports.
Lance Armstrong admitting to doping to win the Tour de France, no players being voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame because of the steroid cloud that hangs over the game, the murky circumstances surrounding Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and his involvement in a murder back in 2000. Now today another baseball steroid story comes out involving Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, yet another in a long line of bad news sports stories.
You lose your sports innocence along the way growing up, sports heroes and box scores and trips to the stadium with dad eventually turn into an awareness of salary caps, lockouts, the "business" of sports as well as seeing the armor our heroes wear stripped away piece by piece until they are revealed to be no different than you or me, just with a little better fastball or jump shot.
It's a shame, but sports can't help us escape real life because sports are played by real people, as flawed and imperfect as any of us.
But as sports takes away it can also give back and luckily I've been able to experience it first hand. I've had the good fortune of working on some stories for TeamUSA.org over the past couple months and while the stories I have heard and written don't make the Lance Armstrong's of the work disappear, they remind us of what is good in sport, in life, and why we play the games and become fans of teams in the first place.
I got a chance to interview and write about alpine skier Tyler Walker, a two-time Paralympian and three-time X-Games gold medalist who has overcome lumbar sacral agenesis and the loss of his legs at the knees at the age of four to become one of the best mono-skiers in the world. Right now I am researching for a piece on Rachael Scdoris, who despite being legally blind has completed the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race across Alaska and is on the U.S. Paralympic cycling team.
There are tons of great stories going on locally as well on the high school, college and local levels and it's going to be fun telling them over the coming weeks and months because they deserve to be told and remind us about what is great about sports.
So maybe it's a good thing that sports is just like life, because when it seems like all sports does is try and beat you down, it comes through and finds a way to lift you back up.
LEAVING THE RENT: There is talk that the CIAC is going to move the state championship football games out of Rentschler Field next season and while I can't really come down on anyone for making the decision, I have to admit it is kind of disappointing.
Rentschler Field has hosted the title games for the last three years, but it appears that the championship games are headed to Central Connecticut State’s Arute Field. It's a shame because the Rent is the premiere football facility in the state and everyone involved in playing the games loved being there.
I covered the press conference the week of the title games and the Class LL final between Xavier and Norwich Free Academy and everyone I came across that week was giddy with excitement about playing at Rentschler Field. Even players and coaches from teams like Ansonia and Hand, who are pretty used to the state championship thing were excited about the opportunity and advised everyone involved to drink in the experience and not take it for granted.
It seems that the cost of using Rentschler Field along with the size of the venue and crowds for the games are the driving forces behind the proposed move. Arute Field seats 5,800 after a recent renovation and the Class L final between Hand and Windsor drew 5,189, the biggest crowd of the four championship games. Rentschler Field holds 45,000.
NEWS AND NOTES: If the Thomaston girls basketball team wins out, it will be the No. 1 seed in Class S. The Bears have just one loss while Cheney Tech and Capital Prep each have two. Prep has not lost to a team from CT this season (losing to New York powers Archbishop Malloy and Bishop Ford Central Catholic) while the Bears' lone loss is to Northwestern. Terryville (8-8) is locked in to the Class S field and Housatonic needs one more win to sew up a berth. ... If the tournament started today, the Terryville boys hoops team would be seeded fourth, but the Kangaroos (11-2) have a lot of work to do. I would pencil them in as a lock for five more wins looking at their schedule with road games in Winsted against Gilbert and Northwestern being the key to a top-four seed. ... Torrington's Ray Cswerko looks like he's in fine form ahead of this weeks Northeast-10 Conference Men's Swimming Championships. A sophomore at Southern Connecticut State University, Cswerko was named the Northeast-10 Conference Men's Swimming Athlete Of The Week on Jan. 15. Cswerko took five first-place finishes two meets against Marist and Connecticut College to earn the award. The Northeast-10 Championships are scheduled for Jan. 31, Feb. 1 and 2 in New Haven. ... Comments, questions? send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow me on Twitter @nestorjdn.