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From the Sidelines

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / August 26, 1998

Sports are supposed to be our escape from the rigors of the real world.

Whether playing a sport ourselves or sitting in the stadium or in our homes watching an event, we can forget about our problems for a while and just enjoy ourselves. But sometimes we get so caught up in this worldwe overlook the bigger picture.

When Cecil Collins got arrested in Baton Rouge and kicked off the LSU football team, I amongst many other people were disappointed. But I got towondering why I was disappointed.

Was it because Collins would not be on the field of Tiger Stadium on Saturday nights helping the Tigers try to win an conference championship? Should not it have been because this was a young man who had the world at his feet and his whole life in front of him and now faces the possibility of a long jail sentence? What about the victims in the case. Do we feel sympathy for them. Thecrime that Collins is accused of committing goes on every day in our society, but often does not get attention unless it is done by someone famous. Maybe that is what we need to be disappointed in. Sometimes we as sportswriters and sportscasters let our prejudices cloud our judgment. A few weeks ago, Michael Irvin of the Dallas Cowboysaccidently cut a teammate during some horseplay at the Cowboys camp a few weeks ago. The incident made headlines across the country and isbeing talked about on almost every call-in show.

Last week, three Saints rookies, including the team’s top two picks, were injured in a rookie hazing incident. Both incidents involved the horseplaythat usually goes along with training camp. But the Irvin incident gotblown out proportion because of Irvin’s reputation and that of the Cowboys. We are supposed to report every event fairly. Sometimes weforget that simple rule.

We also tend to magnify the bad things about sports and neglect the good things. Mark McGwire is on pace to eclipse one of the most hallowedrecords in baseball. So what happens? A story comes out this week abouthim using a testosterne-producing pill, banned by the NFL, the Olympics and the NCAA, but legal in baseball and one that can be bought in many gyms. This is a player who has done so much to help the game of baseballthis season. Yet we cannot leave the guy alone. We are always talking about players leaving school early to turn professional. How about the ones who take the time to return to school andget a degree? How about focusing on them.

How many other jobs (other than President) are there that have their employees put under so much scrutiny and have every mistake put under the microscope? Maybe we need to step back and look at the big picture and treat these players like human beings. After all, they belong to thereal world as well.

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