Saturday, June 03, 2006

SPORTS - First Capitol News - Mike McMurran Sports Editor

MY COLUMN Mike McMurran First Capitol News Sports Editor

Never in this column have I written about my family. “What?” Some of you will surely say, “that’s all you ever write about. Its suppose to be a sports column, not ‘Family McMurran’s weekly adventure.’” Well, as I often say, its all relative.

By now any regular reader of this column know of and about Maggie, Joe and Dee. Occasionally I can even find a fine word to say about my wife of almost 14 years. On the few occasions I have spoken about cousins of my children, they have always, and I literally mean always from my wife of almost 14 years side of the family. No, without going into any detail at all, I was raised in a textbook dysfunctional family. There are no family birthday parties, no Mother’s day gatherings, not even a Christmas gathering. All those things I complain about my wife of almost 14 years family, who gather to celebrate wind direction change, in deep reflection I say to myself, “without them, I would have no family at all.” Such is almost certainly the reason I am so close to my children. No, on my side of the family there is no extended family…except for one! And that one is something special.

There lives in Indiana a young man to whom I have been saying I love you to longer than anyone on earth. He is my first born nephew, Thomas Stephen McMurran. Tom and I have been separated by hundreds of miles for years. There was even a period of time when we didn’t get the chance to talk to each other very often. Some three or four years ago when Tom was married to his lovely wife Kelli, we all jumped into the family van and drove to Indy for the wedding. It was one of the best times of my life. As Tom put it, even though he and I were not always afforded the chance to stay in touch, once we vowed never again to become separated, it was like we were always together. Smart kid, very smart kid. Although he is not really a kid, he will by 30 this September. Anyway, many people say Tom looks more like me than my own children, a point I have discussed with my wife of almost 14 years. Now, I am sure my critics, Greg Almus and Don Oelklaus complain the most of how I write too damn much about my family, are spitting fire, but hold on boys, here comes the sports hook.

In this week’s Sports Section of the FCN you will find an article or two written by my nephew, Tom McMurran. You see he too love to write, and usually it is about sports. He knows of what I do here with my little ole column, and checks it out weekly on the web. Recently he sent me a couple of narratives to look at and comment on. My comment was this: “Have we your permission to print this in our newspaper? This is good stuff.” And it is.

What he has written would best be described as a co-op piece dealing with the steroid issue in baseball. I am not certain that I agree with him, frankly I kinda disagree. But that does not take away from his ability to string together a sentence.

Great job Tom, I really mean it. Just think kid, you could grow up and be like your uncle. I’ve been writing now for this great weekly for over a year and a half, and from I can gather I have a loyal readership of some 26 fans. None, and I mean none, are more important to me than the one who reads the articles over the web from Indy.

Tom McMurran

According to the Associated Press, the football committee of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference is adapting a “score management” policy. The policy will suspend the coach of a team that wins by 50 or more points.

The committee rejected a proposal that many states have adapted that calls for a running clock in the 2nd half in games where the point margin is 35 points or greater. Committee members felt that this would cut into playing time for the back-ups.

Athletics teaches kids more than the fundamentals about a particular sport. In every sport that is played there are life lessons to be learned as well. Athletics teaches kids discipline, teamwork, how to deal with failure and most importantly teaches kids to keep working and not to give up. This “score management” policy only teaches kids to give up.

What is the committee’s recommendation for keeping the score under 50 points? Is the winning team supposed to take a knee on every snap or just punt? Is the defense to just let the other team score? These sound like great ways to get back-up players quality playing time, don’t they?

Suspending a coach of a team that wins by 50+ points is the least of my concerns.

The kids on the losing team are going to be more embarrassed with a team “taking it easy” on them. Does the committee think these kids are going to feel self-pride because they scored a touchdown on a defense that fell down on the snap of the ball? The policy is giving the message to kids that later in life when you are struggling, that everything will be okay because somebody is going to roll over so that you can have a little success.
I would think that there would be more injuries on the football fields in Connecticut next season. This policy is going to dictate that the leading teams not play hard. We have heard it many times before that if you don’t give it 100% you are more apt to get injured. Did the committee think about the health of these kids when approving this policy?
Football games get out of control every so often. Sometimes a 60-point win is just going to happen. A superior team gets a couple of turnovers and turns them into touchdowns and a 20 point lead quickly turns into a 34 point lead. In the 2nd half, the coach wants to get his back-ups some playing time. He coaches with sportsmanship and runs the ball to run the clock out. Oops, his back-ups are able to score against the other teams back-ups and the final margin of victory is 50 points. Suspend the coach, he is running up the score. No he isn’t, he is playing the game of football. Suspending a coach for playing the game the right way is unfair. I’m all for suspending a coach who is up by “x” amount of points and is calling timeouts and still throwing the ball. That is unsportsmanlike and is attempting to run up the score.

Nobody wants to see a high school football team get blown out, but that fact is that it is going to happen. Putting rules in place to keep them to a minimum is fine. Putting rules into place that teaches kids to quit playing hard and to disregard everything that they have been taught about football and work ethic is just plain wrong.

This is football not match play golf. In football you play, you don’t quit or concede or play at half speed.

By Tom McMurran

It is time for society to lose the “everybody in baseball is on steroids” attitude. Over the last week, we have heard the whispers that Albert Pujols has to be taking steroids or if nothing else he is putting something illegal in his body. Why? Is it because he is the best player in the game? Is it because he is off to a record setting pace? Not totally. The reason is because he is off to a record setting pace in BASEBALL.

The closer Pujols gets to the home run record (73) the louder the whispers will become. Pujols will have the likes of Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa to thank for the criticism that he receives during his run at history. Unfortunately for Pujols and others that make record-breaking runs in the near future they are not going to be able to enjoy the spotlight they are in. Because they play the game of BASEBALL, players that possess the talent and ability to break records will always be in a different light. The best players or record setters in other sports don’t have to deal with the ramifications of the players that came before them like baseball players do.

In 2004, Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts chased down and passed Dan Marino’s record for touchdown passes in a single season. During Manning’s run at history, we were spared the topic of steroids. Why? The steroid issue was fresh off the press at the time of his record setting season. Yet, Manning wasn’t questioned about how he could throw the football into the end zone at such a blistering pace without using a drug to help him. Manning was treated like athletes should be treated when breaking records. The sports nation was excited and watched with anticipation for the record setting pass. Fans didn’t have to hear questions about steroids and performance enhancing drugs. Why? The reason, he doesn’t play the game of BASEBALL.

Baseball is clearly in a league of their own when it comes to great players, great performances steroids. In no other sport do players have their morals and integrity questioned like they do in baseball. If people are going to question Pujols for being such a great player and doing remarkable things in his profession, why aren’t we going to question other stars or players that dominate their sport?

How was Kobe Bryant able to perform at such a high level without the help of performance enhancing drugs? Bryant scored 81 points earlier this season in a single game. Bryant wasn’t questioned about if he had taken steroids to help him score so many points. He shouldn’t have been asked those types of questions either. He completed a remarkable feat, not a record but only beat by Wilt Chamberlain, and he was able to enjoy his performance and the attention he got from it. His accomplishment was recognized with the type of attention his performance deserved.

Tiger Woods has dominated the golf world for years. He has won more majors (10) than any other player currently on tour. He very well could win more majors than Jack Nicklaus (18) by the time he ends his career. Woods hasn’t been questioned about how he became so dominate. Tiger is in great shape and has muscles, which use to be unheard of for professional golfers, he is near the top in driving distance each year and nobody questions whether or not he is on steroids. Why? Tiger has great work ethic and he doesn’t play BASEBALL.

Albert Pujols like many other great athletes works extremely hard to get to where they are. Not all athletes that make it to the top are on steroids or any other type of performance enhancing drugs. Just because Pujols plays the game of BASEBALL he will be treated different than those great athletes that break records in other sports. Can you say “guilty by association”? Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and the BALCO case has made it difficult for any player in baseball to chase a record without being scrutinized.

If Pujols is able to keep belting home runs throughout the season, the whispers we are hearing in May, will be childish screams in September.

Just let them play.

Tom is an aspiring free lance sports writer from Indianapolis. He lives with his wife Kelli.