Archive for Wednesday, January 7, 2004

Sports needs its own list of resolutions

January 7, 2004

Forget those personal New Year's resolutions.

Losing some weight would be great. Becoming more organized is even better.

But while we work to improve ourselves, maybe the world of sports could use some betterment as well.

The year 2003 has been memorable in many ways: Kansas men's basketball reached the NCAA title game, Kansas State football won the Big 12 Championship, Tonganoxie football claimed eight victories and THS volleyball was a step away from the state tournament.

On the flip side, however, sports suffered some black eyes in the past year.

The list below includes sports resolutions for 2004 sprinkled with some ideas that would make the fresh new year even more unforgettable than its predecessor.

Win a Super Bowl

This resolution would, of course, be at the top of the Chiefs' list.

The storied franchise has had both successful runs and lean years, but claiming its first Super Bowl title in more than 30 years would be a huge boost for the city. If that doesn't become a reality in a few weeks, at least the team will get another crack at the trophy next season. Longtime coach Dick Vermeil said he will return next fall, so the resolution still seems logical in 2005 if does not happen this year.

Eliminate sexual assault accusations

This falls under that "be a better person" category.

I use the word "accusations" because enough evidence never was found against Kansas State quarterback Ell Roberson.

It also remains a question whether what occurred in Colorado with Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant and a local woman was sexual assault.

Questionable behavior usually isn't tolerated in other circles. But sports is a different animal.

Sometimes, athletes receive more than the benefit of the doubt -- simply because they're athletes. On the flip side, athletes also can be easy targets for a quick financial settlement or short-lived fame from a "victim."

In the Roberson case, many questions remain unanswered, at least publicly. But one fact is clear: Roberson wasn't thinking straight if he broke curfew with a monumental game looming.

Breaking such rules supposedly never is tolerated with coach Bill Snyder, but Roberson started in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State on Friday anyway.

The lesson is simple: Don't go where you shouldn't. That's easier said than done, but so are most resolutions.

Lose the BCS

This is that resolution that never will happen -- at least not this year. OK, a playoff probably never will replace the Bowl Championship Series, but once again football has co-national champions.

Hooray, two teams get to say: "We're No. 1!"

But if two teams are claiming to be national champs, that basically means there was a tie. Those can be swell, but as the old saying goes, "That's like kissing your sister."

And so, the logical solution would be a playoff. That won't happen for a few years, but we still keep putting it in the resolution list in hopes that someday it is accomplished.

Keep the house clean -- fire your athletics director

This applies to our neighbors to the north.

Nebraska athletics director Steve Pederson fires a guy who goes 9-3 during the regular season. Standards obviously differ depending on the tradition of a school, but Pederson fired Frank Solich one year after the Nebraska coach added a slew of new assistants.

Husker Nation isn't quite where it once was, but it's within shooting distance of walking back into the national spotlight.

After Arkansas coach Houston Nutt turned his back on the esteemed Huskers, one wonders where the mighty Pederson will look next to find a high-profile coach. Hmmm, who wants to coach at a school where you pack your bags after winning nine games in the regular season? Sure, it came after a 7-7 season the previous year, but Nebraska extended its lengthy bowl game streak nonetheless.

Interestingly enough, whoever takes the helm in Lincoln will head to Pederson's former school -- Pittsburgh -- for a nonconference game Sept. 18.

Pederson himself might be looking for work at that point. Some Nebraska supporters upset with Solich's firing are asking fellow fans to donate money so they can buy out Pederson's contract.

That likely won't happen anytime soon, but Nebraska finding a new coach probably won't happen in that time frame either.

Play in the World Series

It would be an unbelievable year if the Chiefs and Royals play in the Super Bowl and World Series respectively in 2004.

That's hard to top, but some unfinished business still remains in major league baseball that should have taken place in 2003. Hexes in Chicago and Boston prevented the long anticipated Cubs-Red Sox series from taking place.

Florida's amazing run sent the Cubs home, one game shy of the Fall Classic after holding a beautiful 3-1 series lead. For the 58th consecutive time, the Cubs weren't invited to the World Series.

Boston, meanwhile, should have disposed of its hated rival, but the Yankees dropped the BoSox yet again in the National League Championship Series. Both teams have personnel who can return their teams to the postseason in '04. Hopefully one of them (Chicago) finally wins.

Make an appearance at state

An athletic year is a success if a team can manage a state appearance. Cross country, wrestling and track always qualify individuals each year, but Tonganoxie hasn't made noise in a state tournament for a few years.

This fall's volleyball squad could appreciate 2004 more if it claims a state berth.

During each of the past two seasons, the Chieftains have advanced to the substate finals, but Lansing has blocked a THS state appearance both seasons.

The third time could be the charm for Tonganoxie in the fall.

Place a national title banner in your rafters

Kansas has come close the last two years with Final Four appearances, but have been denied both times.

Fans and teams shouldn't get greedy. Some teams never have reached the Final Four, while Kansas has appeared in 12 and has played for the national title seven of those times.

But when you're so close so often, another one shouldn't be out of the question.

The Jayhawks are far from national title contenders right now, but many people are far from where they want to be this time of year when they're jotting down their New Year's resolutions.

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