Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week they discuss the distraction of New England's Rob Gronkowski, the achievement of the Argos'' Byron Parker, the timing of the Canadiens, and the efforts of Canadians at the Pan Am Games.
Bruce Arthur, National Post: My thumb is down to Rob Gronkowski, but not just to him. During New England's bye week, the Patriots tight end posed for a pair of pictures with a porn star named Bibi Jones, and in one he was as shirtless as the Incredible Hulk as she wore his jersey. The photos hit twitter, and the world reacted with the predictable restraint. She insisted nothing happened - not the most plausible story ever told, as he is a pro athlete - but guys, he's a pro athlete. A few days later Gronkowski was apologizing to the team after all the predictable fuss. So thumbs down to Gronkowski's poor judgment in letting the photos surface, sure. But while we're at it, thumbs down to everyone who claimed they were shocked, shocked, to find gambling - or something - going on at this establishment.
Steve Simmons, Sun Media: My thumb is up to Byron Parker of the Toronto Argonauts, who established a CFL record Friday night that Anthony Calvillo had nothing to do with. In this miserable Argo season, Parker returned his ninth career interception for a touchdown, becoming the all-time leader in that category. This from a guy who went to Tulane on a basketball scholarship and was once the NCAA's slam dunk champion. His ability to dunk got the attention of the football coach at Tulane, who turned him into a cornerback. For that, Argo fans and CFL fans should be happy. And when you consider the great defensive backs over the years, from Dickie Harris to Dickie Thornton to Larry Highbaugh or Ray Odums, you realize what a feat the player they call AP has accomplished here.
Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated: My thumb is down to the Montreal Canadiens for the firing of assistant coach Perry Pearn. Pearn was scapegoated for Montreal's stuttering start by GM Pierre Gauthier, who publicly praised the coach he had just dismissed. Which made us wonder: if Pearn were so good, why was he gone? Gauthier said it had to do with global perspective. He called it a philosophical change. Philosophy? Really? What's next? Montreal abandons Aristotle and goes with Kierkegaard? The Canadiens won the next three games with Randy Ladouceur running the defence, but the sacking of head coach Jacques Martin's closest aide and the modest winning streak were coincidence, not the blueprint to a Montreal revival.
Dave Hodge, TSN: Thumbs up to Canada's overall efforts at the Pan Am Games, and to a couple of gold medal performances, specifically.
The men's baseball team was victorious against the United States. Canada can beat any other country in a baseball game and feel good, but it feels great when Canadians beat Americans at their national pasttime. And same thing for the women's soccer team, which beat Brazil, and did so dramatically with a late tying goal by Christine Sinclair and four shootout goals. It doesn't erase the disappointment of the World Cup, but it helps, and points the way to Olympic qualifying in Vancouver.