Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week they discuss Rob Gronkowski's celebration tactics, staged fights, Fabio Capello's resignation and what to do with hockey's historically-weak division.
Bruce Arthur, National Post: My thumb is down to those who criticized New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who - along with offensive lineman Matt Light - went dancing, shirtless, in a club in the hours after his team lost the Super Bowl. Those people who slammed him for not being adequately affected by the loss, including NBC analyst and former Patriot Rodney Harrison - well, they watched the game, right? How Gronkowski played on a badly sprained ankle, able to block but not really run? How he gutted it out? How he dove for the final Hail Mary, and barely missed? Because after that - after a record-breaking season that concluded with a four-hour tap dance on a high ankle sprain after two weeks - Rob Gronkowski had earned the right to handle defeat any way he wanted to. Let the man dance, boys. Let the man dance.
Steve Simmons, Sun Media: My thumb is down to the ridiculous spectacle that is staged fighting in the National Hockey League. In a recent game between the New Jersey Devils and the New York Rangers, players on both teams dropped their gloves as the opening faceoff was being dropped and in the process denigrated themselves and the league in which they play. It may have seemed funny when the Hanson brothers were doing it but that was comedy. There was nothing funny about the neanderthal act the Devils and Rangers took part in that only embarrasses themselves and their league. In fairness, the NHL tried to do something about this last season but the Players' Association blocked a rule that would have prevented this nonsense. This needs to be addressed again - the game is too great to let this garbage continue.
Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated: My thumb is down to the resignation of English national soccer coach Fabio Capello… or at least the reason for the resignation. The Football Association stripped John Terry of his captaincy without consulting the coach. Not that the FA's decision was without merit. Terry, the Chelsea star, is on trial for racism for a comment he allegedly made to Queens Park Rangers' Anton Ferdinand during a Premiership match last November. But with Euro 2012 four months away, the FA undermined the Italian who was hired four years ago to restore England to the first rank of soccer nations. Under Capello, England was superb during 2010 World Cup qualifying, then dismal in the tournament. Maybe the national team really needs a British national as the coach. But in walking away, Capello put his money where his mouth is. He quit a job that paid him $9 million a year.
Dave Hodge, TSN: A new Stanley Cup playoff system has been delayed because the Players' Association thought it was unfair. It couldn't be worse than what happens now when the winner of a weak division gets the No. 3 conference seed. My thumb will be down every time the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers switch places in the East - one goes from ninth to third and vice versa. It happened twice this week - out of the playoffs one day, first-round playoff hosts the next. The NHL wants to reward division champions - fine - but anything more than a guaranteed playoff spot makes a mockery of the idea that you play 82 times to earn a playoff advantage. The Panthers or Capitals will almost certainly not earn theirs.