By Jim Tortolano/Orange County Tribune
In a week in which we should be celebrating athletic excellence and the beginning of a new season of America’s Pastime, much of the sports coverage has centered on the questionable behavior of two people at the the highest level of their athletic success.
Anthony Rendon, the Angels’ third baseman, has been suspended for four games for grabbing the shirt of a fan who called him a five-letter word after the Halo infielder had an 0-for-6 performance in his first two games of the season.
Angel Reese, star of the LSU women’s basketball team that won the NCAA Division 1 title over the weekend, has been taking heavy criticism for gestures and “trash-talking” during her team’s win over Iowa.
She responded that the criticism was race-based, that she was “too hood. Too ghetto” for those who feel she crossed a line when she taunted the Iowa players.
Welcome to the state of sportsmanship in major sports today. Apparently, if you make millions of dollars a year to play a children’s game, or lead your team to a championship based on points scored rather than kindness, you do whatever you want. Fans and losers are nobodies, and doubtless Rendon – who hit a sterling .229 in his most previous full season with the Angels – and Reese have been told how simply wonderful and better than anyone else they were since they were in Underoos, or Pokemon pajamas.
It’s often said, with some truth, that sports builds character. But it’s equally true that sports reveals character. Rendon and Reese will have their moment in the sun (although Rendon’s may already have passed) but eventually it will be “Anthony who? Angel who?”
Ty Cobb and Larry Bird were great players but notorious jerks. If you’ve been gifted with great athletic ability, be grateful for the gift and don’t act as if you don’t care that what people will remember about you is you “had some talent but were a [self-centered horse’s behind].”
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