A good time to stay indoors out of the heat and humidity with a bunch of guys watching a ballgame, debating great athletes and talking about life’s problems.
It’s the usual stuff: Who is the best quarterback, Joe Montana, John Elway, Johnny Unitas, Dan Marino or “Broadway” Joe Namath? Has anyone come close to challenging Jim Brown as the best running back? Did Michael Jordan hurt his legacy by making a comeback to play with the Washington Wizards? Do you prefer lite or regular beer? Is Muhammad Ali the athlete of the 20th century? Who would you rather have “Babe” Ruth or Barry Bonds?
Or is Pete Sampras a better player than Rod Laver? Is Tiger Woods ahead of Jack Nicklaus? Comparing Secretariat with Seabiscuit. And which one would you date Rachel, Monica or Phoebe, the three characters from the “Friends” TV show, or Julia Roberts?
Well, this weekend, it was different.
The questions raised were: Should the name of the alleged sexually assaulted victim in the Kobe Bryant case be kept secret? Did the cable channels have to relentlessly show over and over and over the bodies of Saddam Hussein’s sons after a fierce firefight?
The Bryant case will be around a long time and, by all accounts, both Bryant and his accuser will not walk away unscathed after both parties attack each other’s character. Because there were no witnesses, that we know of, it will be a he said-she said case.
According to the Pentagon, Saddam’s sons Odai, 39, and Qusai, 37, died after American troops converged on a villa in the northern city of Mosul.
Cable TV and the networks needed to show the bodies a few times as a matter of national interest after the war. It was probably more important to show over and over and again in Iraq to convince the nonbelievers and forces, albeit small, still loyal to Saddam and responsible for the guerrilla-type attacks on U.S. troops that there was a new regime. The display of the brothers, however, offended Muslims in general because it violated Islamic custom. Traditionally, the bodies are washed, shrouded and buried immediately.
Even though the brothers have a long history of committing human rights violations the sight of their corpses after several hours on cable TV became offensive. One of the nice things of TV is that the remote has on and off buttons or you can switch channels if you don’t like what you are watching.
After all this, one of sports all-tim
e great athletes, Lance Armstrong, a 31-year-old Texan, won the grueling 23-day 2,125-mile Tour de France on Sunday and became only the second to win the event, the most famous bike race in the world, five times straight.
Most of us monitored Armstrong’s progress with the U.S. Postal team during the race. But few of us know as much about bike riding as the Europeans.
We know that the leader at the end of each day’s racing gets to wear the famous yellow jersey. But how many of us know what a stage is in the Tour de France? In Europe, Armstrong is a hero, a household name like Jordan, Woods and Bonds are in the U.S. and the Texan is an all-time great bike rider, yet he is not idolized in his home country like them.
We follow Armstrong because he is an American and is a cancer survivor. It has been well documented that he had cancer of the testicle, lungs and brain seven years ago. We know of his courage and determination to comeback from two surgeries and several rounds of chemotherapy to beat the world’s best after he had once been given a 50 percent chance of surviving cancer.
Since Armstrong beat off cancer he and his wife, Kristin, have had three children, Luke, 3, and twins Isabelle and Grace, who will celebrate their second birthday in November. He is an inspirational story and a person who could just about motivate anyone.
For the record, Armstrong and Miguel Indurain, of Spain, are the only riders to win the Tour de France five times in a row.
Three others have also won the race five times, Belgium’s Eddy Merckx, and Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault, of France.
Armstrong is taking a well earned break from racing and then he will begin preparing for his assault to try to win the Tour de France for an unprecedented sixth straight time. We’ll all be hoping he does.
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