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Sad State Of Sports Today

Stan Musial
Alex Wong/Getty Images

For the past couple weeks, everywhere you turned in the world of sports, there were two names.

Lance Armstrong. Monti Te’o.

Generally in the couple weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, there’s a kind of lull in the sports world (outside the endless hype about the Super Bowl, of course). The NBA is in it’s never ending regular season. Baseball is still weeks away from Spring Training. Hockey is back, but no one notices. College basketball is still over a month away from March Madness.

Things are, relatively speaking, quiet in the world of sports.

Perhaps it’s a commentary on our society in general that we are attentive…no, let me correct that…we are infatuated with what’s wrong or weird or just plan bizarre in sports.

On some level, we love the fact that Lance Armstrong sits with Oprah Winfrey and admits he’s a cheater, a bully, a fraud. We can’t get enough of it. It’s a human train wreck on steroids, human growth hormones, blood transfusions and drugs.

On some level, we love the fact that Manti Te’o was either a perpetrator or the victim of some hoax about a girlfriend he had or didn’t have, who died or didn’t die. We love this so much, we give it a name…catfishing. He either lied or he didn’t. He loved or he lied.

I was told these stories were “trending huge”. That’s some kind of tech-talk that means, “Good Lord, write about it, talk about it, sing about it, yell about it. It’s what people want and love and need!!”

Meanwhile, quietly…way to quietly…a legend died. But not just a legend, not just a great athlete, not just one of the best baseball players ever.

One of the best human beings ever.

Stanley Frank Musial died at the age of 92. Stan “The Man” they called him. And what a man.

Stan Musial played 22 season’s in the Big Leagues. Amazingly (in this day and age) he played his entire career with one team, the St. Louis Cardinals. Just as amazingly, Musial had a total of 3,620 hits, split evenly, 1815 at home and 1815 on the road. 475 Home Runs, 3-time National League MVP, 3-time World Series Champion. The boy from Donora, Pennsylvania entered the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.

But those are just numbers. Did you know Stan Musial was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011? Check the Baseball Hall of Fame (or any professional sports Hall’s of Fame) and check out how many Presidential Medal of Freedom winner’s grace the Hall’s.

But perhaps the greatest honor bestowed on this Icon? He was the sports hero…no, wait, let me change that…he was the Gentleman you wanted your kids to emulate.

Stan Musial only made one real miscalculation. He died at the wrong time. Normally, especially at this time of year, it would have made huge headlines, the news of his death would have reverberated around, not only the sports world, but around the word in general. We would have stopped, at least for a moment or two, read the stories, passed them on, reflected on a great ball player and a better person.

But we didn’t. As it turns out, the death of Stan “The Man” Musial didn’t “trend well”.

We were busy with Lance Armstrong and Monti Te’o.

Maybe if Stan had been rumored to have taken steroids, been married 4 or 5 times, beat someone up in a bar, hit a girlfriend or 2, or at least had a ‘phantom’ girlfriend or mistress, maybe then he would have ‘trended’ better.

But he didn’t. He was just a really nice man with terrific athletic talents. And in sports today, that may just not be enough.

I don’t think that says anything about sports. But I think it says a lot about us.

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