With the NCAA Tournament field set, most of the sports buzz today is being dedicated to the brackets. However, plenty of other things are going on in the world of sports that are worth talking about. I’ll run through some of today’s interesting stories and give you my quick take on them.
DAVID BECKHAM UNDERGOES SURGERY AND WILL MISS WORLD CUP
The U.S. Men’s National Team has experienced their fair share of injuries in the time leading up to June’s World Cup in South Africa. However, their Group C counterparts, England, have suffered almost as many injury blows. Amidst several knocks to crucial defenders such as Ashley Cole and Wes Brown, midfielder David Beckham is now officially ruled out for the tournament.
Now, there was no absolute guarantee that Beckham was going to make the roster, especially because of his age. But most accounts pointed to him eventually being selected by manager Fabio Capello to join the team in South Africa. Beckham recently sustained a nasty achilles tendon injury during a game for his on-loan club AC Milan in Italy. He has since successfully undergone surgery to repair the torn achilles in Finland.
While the injury comes a blow to the England team, the personal toll it will presumably take on Beckham is considerably worse. To me, this injury could easily end his career…not just because of the physical rehabilitation it will require, but also because of the mental anguish it will cause the former England captain. Beckham has poured his heart and soul into attempting to make the World Cup squad. He has gone out of his way to play at the highest level in Italy, demanding a loan to AC Milan from the LA Galaxy of the MLS. The loan has caused the general opinion of him to plummet in America, giving US soccer fans the idea that he is abandoning his promises to the MLS.
And now, the World Cup dream is dead. This shattered dream could cause him to call it quits completely, which would be a general shame for the game of soccer, but an even bigger shame for a league that is counting on him for revenue and popularity, the MLS.
ARENAS CONCEDES THAT HE SHOULD BE PUNISHED
At first, Gilbert Arenas didn’t believe it was happening to him. Then, he was an NBA superstar, who felt he could do anything he wanted. Now, he is a suspended afterthought that is simply wondering whether or not he will ever be welcome back to the league. When the gun saga first began, Arenas laughed it off, almost daring the NBA to do something about. A few months later, he is finally conceding that he deserves a punishment.
The Wizards guard, who has been keeping a low profile since his guilty plea, spoke with Esquire Magazine recently about the incident that has tarnished his reputation. In the clips of the interview released to the media, Arenas admitted that it makes him sick to think of the people he let down with his choices, namely the late Wizards owner Abe Pollin. He also went onto say that he believes he should be punished for the incident in which he describes as him not using “longevity thinking.”
Arenas will have plenty more time to mull it over as he isn’t expected to return to playing for quite awhile. The legal dust has yet to settle and his reputation with the league and the fans still remains awful. Admitting he was wrong and publicly accepting whatever punishment he is given will certainly be a good start.
IOWA CANS LICKLITER AFTER 10-22 YEAR
The University of Iowa is now on the market for a new men’s basketball coach after firing Todd Lickliter after three seasons. Lickliter, who came over from Butler with big expectations, went just 38-58 at Iowa. Athletic Director Gary Barta cited the losing record, the declining ticket revenue, and the waning interest among fans as reasons why the change was necessary.
I understand that losing isn’t fun, especially when no one cares you’re doing it. However, what does this firing say about Iowa? Let’s start with the fact Iowa may have an unrealistic self-perception of their program. This isn’t Kansas, North Carolina, or Duke! It’s Iowa! They had to have known that it was going to take awhile for Lickliter to do anything substantial for the Hawkeye program. It’s going to take awhile for almost anyone to win there. You have to be committed to your coach, giving him time to develop in-state recruiting relationships and sell the program to the students, the alumni, and the town.
Take the Indiana Hoosiers as an example. While leading the Hoosiers, Tom Crean has a worse record than Lickliter over the last few seasons, but you don’t see Indiana University hurrying to fire him. You have to understand that college basketball success isn’t an overnight phenomenon. Iowa now finds itself looking for a new coach which, whether they care to believe it or not, means they have to start all over again from the ground up. Unless of course they can get a big name coach, right? Well, what coach is going to want to come to Iowa City if they know the university isn’t willing to be patient enough to let them develop their program the right way? Not many.
ALEX OVECHKIN GETS SLAPPED WITH A 2-GAME SUSPENSION FOR HIT ON CAMPBELL
Thanks to Alex Ovechkin, Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell’s season is most likely over. During the Hawks 4-3 meltdown against the Capitals this past weekend, Ovechkin shoved a defenseless Campbell into the boards from behind, earning him a game misconduct and an ejection.
Ovechkin has always been known as one of the league’s most emotional players. I wouldn’t say he is dirty, but I would say he probably embraces his repuation as being wild and unpredictable. His emotions certainly got the best of him and it comes as a huge expense to the Blackhawks. Losing Campbell won’t completly cripple the Hawks chances in the playoffs, but it certainly won’t help. The Hawks are already shaky in the defensive third outside of Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith, and their goaltending is very questionable.
Ovechkin’s 2-game suspension is no skin off his back or his team’s, seeing as they possess the best record in the NHL. However, due to the fact that he is considered a “repeat offender,” Ovechkin will forfeit nearly $233,000 in fines.
Knowing Ovechkin, this won’t change him as a player, but perhaps his reputation around the league will take a bit of a hit.