Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Last Real Sports Hero, May 19, 2006

AS WE WAIT FOR BARRY BONDS to tie and surpass Babe Ruth's mark of 714 homeruns, the media frenzy has gotten way out of hand. Last week I picked up a copy of The Chico News and Review, our local weekly liberal litter box liner. On the cover was a huge photo of Barry Bonds and an even bigger headline that simply said "Stop Hating Barry." The headline was all I really needed to read to figure out what they were trying to tell me....and I was right. The left wing liberal media would have us believe that guys like Barry Bonds complete with steriod use and public allegations of domestic violence, adultry, tax evasion, and his generally rude, disrespectful demeanor is exactly the type of person that our children should be looking to as a role model.

The American sports landscape is littered with athletes that hardly deserve the title of "sports hero" or "role model," but still manage to get themselves labeled as such. There are lots of them out there, but guys like Bonds, Kobe Bryant, Terrell Owens, Ron Artest, and Ricky Williams immediately come to mind. I'm not buying it though.

In the history of sports, true heros have been few and far between. Even the Olympics aren't immune to the crass, arrogant, rule bending/breaking mentality that seems to be running rampant in sports today. However, there was one story that came out of the recent Olympic competition in Turin, Italy that tells me that "sports heros" do still exist. You just have to look a lot harder to find them.

One of these true sports heros made his presence known and felt during the cross country skiing event. Canadian Sara Renner was racing for the gold medal when her pole broke. As her international competitors were passing her at a torrid pace, her chances for the gold or any other other medal were fast evaporating. Then from out of nowhere came a replacement pole which allowed her to get back into contention. Renner and her teammate eventually finished 2nd , winning the silver medal for Canada.

The mystery of the replacement pole was soon solved too. The replacement pole that seemed to have appeared from thin air actually came from a man named Bjornar Hakensmoen...the head coach of the Norwegian cross country team. Afterwards, Hakensmoen was quoted as saying "winning isn't evrything in sports." He proved that by putting sportsmanship ahead of himself, his team, and back into sports. His Norwegian team finished 4th, two places behind Renner and the Canadian team and one place out of medal winning status.

Funny thing happened though on the way to the medal ceremony. Not one word to criticism was leveled at Hakensmoen from his team or his countrymen back in Norway. As a matter of fact, he was hailed as a hero on two continents (in Canada and Norway). When was the last time anything like that happened involving an American athlete?

Guys like Bonds will come and go in the sports world. If he passes Babe Ruth and breaks the all time homerun record, that record will always be tainted with the accusations Bonds carries on his shoulders. The Norwegian Ski Team, however, will be remembered as a team that conducted itself with honor and integrity, it's coach a true sports hero for the world to look up to. And hopefully, not the last real sports hero.

For the complete story click here.

If you could trade places with Hakensmoen, what would you do? (closed poll)
Exactly what he did! 1
Keep the pole thus preserving the medal win for your team. 0

(originally posted 5-19-06 on Yahoo 360)
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