by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

The sports world is full of errors in judgment: The Lions drafting Andre Ware, World Team Tennis, Fox creating a blue puck.

Still, lately it seems like a plague of bad decisions has infected sports, and it’s even worse than usual. For example:


A couple of years ago, Don King was talking about one of his fighters. He couldn’t remember his name, so he said, “Who’s that junkie I got?”

The so-called junkie was Oliver McCall, a guy who has admitted using drugs
— including crack cocaine — since he was a teenager. Last Friday, a supposedly clean McCall got into a ring with heavyweight Lennox Lewis, despite all of the following:

* Two arrests for drugs in the last year.

* An arrest two months ago for throwing a Christmas tree across a hotel lobby.

* Drug rehab that had him visiting the clinic as late as a week before the fight.

Don King, his promoter, knew all of this. McCall still got into the ring.

And it could have killed him.

In case you missed it, McCall fought for the first two rounds, then spaced out. He refused to throw punches, turned his back on Lewis and circled the ring between rounds, mumbling to himself like some lost soul on the street. Finally, after two rounds of virtually no punches, the referee stopped the fight because McCall “refused to defend himself.”

At the sound of the decision, McCall broke into tears and ran from the ring. Now I ask you: Does that sound like someone who belonged in a heavyweight fight?

“I don’t know what happened,” King said.

He knew plenty. He also knew this: McCall was scheduled to get $3 million
— and King was due to get a big chunk of it. Of course, that purse is now being held up, pending investigation. And I promise you King is more concerned

about that than whether McCall is ever normal again.

You have to wonder whose judgment was worse, King for using McCall, or McCall for ever letting that slimeball promote him.

Of course, that’s hardly the only error in judgment these days. . . .


Last year’s Mr. Spit was supposed to be this season’s Mr. Sit — at least for five games, the suspension handed down by Major League Baseball for Alomar’s hawking a loogie in the face of umpire John Hirschbeck.

At the time, many people — me included — were outraged that Alomar was allowed to play at all. Spitting in an umpire’s face? I remember asking what it took to get suspended in this league, a gunshot?

Well, as you know, Alomar was allowed to play, and he got the Orioles into the playoffs. His only punishment was to sit the first five games of this season — presumably, without pay, since he was suspended.

Only now, as it turns out, the Orioles will pay Alomar while he sits.

“We want to show Robby we’re behind him,” an Orioles official said.

Great. Someone should get behind that guy — and clomp him over the head with a shoe. What are they thinking? It’s bad enough they send a message to fans that spitting at an umpire is not serious enough to miss a playoff game. But now they’re saying it’s not serious enough to miss a paycheck? All Alomar will have to ante up is a meager fine, around $250. The Orioles will actually pay him NOT TO PLAY.

And they wonder why fans can’t relate to this sport anymore.

In basketball, Dennis Rodman kicks a cameraman — not a ref, a cameraman
— and he gets an 11-game suspension immediately, no pay, see ya. In football, you spit at a referee, you might as well book a long flight to South America. And in hockey? I asked Don Cherry of “Hockey Night in Canada” what would happen if an NHL player ever spat in an official’s face?

“He’d be shot at dawn,” he said.

But wait. There’s more bad judgment. . . .


Coach resents owner. Coach quits team. Coach wants to coach another team.

Owner resents coach. Owner sees coach quit. Owner says you can’t coach another team unless I get something in exchange.

For a while there, I wasn’t sure if this were the NFL or two merchants haggling in some Persian market.

In the end, Parcells was allowed to leave the Patriots and coach the Jets in exchange for a packet of draft picks. It was a bitter trade. But what did Bob Kraft expect? That Parcells would sit on the sidelines for a year?

And what did Parcells expect? That Kraft would let him walk away without a hiccup? Do any of these guys actually read their contracts — or do they just cash the checks?

If you ask me, they all deserve each other. Kraft is desperate for the spotlight, Parcells is desperate for control, and the Jets are desperate, period.

Of course, this is just the tip of the bad-judgment iceberg. There’s the NFL’s decision to allow indoor fireworks at halftime of a Super Bowl — so the players were coughing smoke the whole second half — and there’s the NHL’s decision not to change the silly skate-in-the-crease rule, and there are Rodman’s recent interview in which he compared himself to Elvis.

And I would like to comment on all of these, but to paraphrase a popular T-shirt:

So many fools, so little time.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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