From the Sidelines

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 25, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / December 25, 1999

Ah, Christmas Day. Children are opening the gifts that Papa Noel hadbrought the night before, their eyes sparkling like the last embers that are burning out in the bonfires along the river.

As the last bows are being taken off and the last straps of ribbon are being untied, one wonders what gifts were on the wish list of those in the sports world. For this Santa is not particular, bringing gifts to both thenaughty and the nice.

For the Saints, a clue to what went wrong this year and the ability to fix it. This may have been the most disappointing year in the organization’shistory with hopes of at least a winning season quickly dashed. Whoeverthe coach is next year, he may need the Three Wise Men to point him in the right direction.

And on that note, for Saints fans, hope. Even that was in short supply forfans who usually have an abundance of it.

For Ricky Williams, an injury free season. Just think about what he may becapable of if he is healthy.

For LSU football fans, a return to the winning ways of a few years ago.

Nick Saban and his staff may be the Tigers’ version of Papa Noel, looking to make visions of bowl games dance once again in fans’ heads. A defensethat is less generous and an offense that is less in the gift-given mood would be a start. Oh, and a couple of highly acclaimed recruits whoactually pan out would be nice too.

For Tulane football fans, another year of eligibility for Shaun King. Butseriously, a season that is vacant of injuries to key players and a return to the glory days of 1997-98. A running game would also fit nicely underthe tree.

For college football, a playoff system. Ok, guys, you’ve lucked out twoyears in a row but its like getting a fruitcake two years in a row. Let’s geta real gift next season, like a playoff system.

For baseball, a continuation of the excitement on the field and solutions to its problems off of it. How about everybody associated with the MajorLeagues attend one Little League or high school game to see once more the purity of the game? For the athletes and spectators attending the Summer Olympics this season, that the Games are not about winning but about given your best and sportsmanship in the truest sense of the world.

For golf, and for sports in general for that matter, more players like Payne Stewart. His legacy will be more than just the outfits he wore. For the sports world, less sorrow in the new year. Stewart, Joe DiMaggio,Gene Sarazen, Wilt Chamberlain, Walter Payton, Catfish Hunter, and all the others who left us too early this year. The sports world was a better placebecause they were in it and is lessened by their absence.

Also for the sports world, more Michael Jordans, Brandi Chastants, Mark McGwires, Wayne Gretzkys and others who are serious about their games but also like to have fun too.

On this 1,999th anniversary of Christ’s birth, peace on earth and goodwill to man. Those are the victories that we should never stop striving for.Merry Christmas and a safe holiday season.

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