Archive for Wednesday, September 5, 2001

Recent acts of stupidity tarnish image of sports

September 5, 2001

There are some bad apples in most orchards in the sports world, but when they involve fibbing about a Little League pitcher's age, it makes all of the fruit look rotten.

Danny Almonte's perfect game and no-hitter are no longer in the record books after documents indicated he was 14, making him too old for the 12-year-old Little League cut-off. The Bronx, N.Y., All-Stars also had to forfeit all of their wins in the tournament.

Danny's father, Felipe de Jesus Almonte, and the Bronx league founder, Rolando Paulino, were banned from Little League baseball. Paulino also had a Little League team from the Dominican Republican with six overage players in the 1988 Latin American Little League tournament. That team won the tournament, but later had to forfeit as well.

People enjoy Little League baseball because it's about youth simply playing the American pastime in the biggest venue of their young lives.

The fraud discovery doesn't help sports in general. Actual athletes weren't involved with the problem.

Everyone blamed the adults for manipulating the youth, but one has to wonder if Danny Almonte knew he was a couple years older than the rest of his team.

Whatever the case, the microscope under which sports are viewed continues to expose problems. Other parts of society should be examined as well, but when a parent lies about his son's age, or two Jayhawk football players take someone's purse and use the owner's credit card, one prays that most athletes and people involved with sports are wiser.

Kansas quarterback Mario Kinsey and running back Reggie Duncan would have to have some intelligence if they are learning a large playbook at the collegiate level. People slip up, but their bad judgment couldn't have come at a worse time.

Perhaps most of the other 100 or so football players can dispel the sometimes unfavorable perception of athletes. The tarnished fruit is usually the most noticeable.

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The climb of Tonganoxie football continues. The Chieftains won their season opener for the first time in more than six years and shut out Perry-Lecompton after the Kaws won last year's opener 33-0.

The soccer and cross country teams haven't been able to start off strong because lightning postponed their events Thursday. Weather permitting, both start their seasons this week.

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Los Angeles and the Sunflower State will square off twice Saturday No. 12 Kansas State plays Southern Cal at the Los Angeles Coliseum; No. 14 UCLA comes to Lawrence for a game with Kansas. The Wildcats will appease critics with a game against a program with tradition. K-State usually defeats teams it's supposed to, so one win is expected. Kansas, meanwhile, could alleviate about four years of frustration with an early season nonconference win against a ranked opponent.

KU Coach Terry Allen could also feel slightly better about his job with a victory. He would have defeated a ranked team that defeated another ranked team in then-No. 20 Alabama last Saturday. The Crimson Tide are led by Dennis Franchione, the man many thought should have been hired at Kansas instead of Allen.

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After spending the weekend in Wichita it's obvious that the state's largest city is deprived in the fall. Wichita State hasn't had football since the early 1980s. Wonder what Barry Sanders would have looked like in a yellow and black Wichita State uniform?

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