Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week, they discuss British tennis fan Nick Newlife, chuckwagon racing at the Calgary Stampede, Teemu Selanne, and Devils enforcer Cam Janssen.
Dave Naylor, TSN: My thumb is up to Nick Newlife, the British tennis fan who this week became far more famous in death than he ever was when he was alive. You see back in 2003, Newlife made a $2,400 bet that Roger Federer would set a record for victories at Wimbledon, at odds of 66 to 1. When Newlife passed away six years later at age 59, he left his ticket to Oxfam, an international charity dedicated to fighting poverty. And last Sunday, that ticket became worth more than $161,000. We may never know more about Nick Newlife than these two things: he had a good heart and exceptional eye for greatness in tennis.
Steve Simmons, Sun Media: My thumb is down to chuckwagon racing at the Calgary Stampede, where once again horses are dying at the supposed greatest outdoor show on earth. Three horses died in a chuckwagon crash Thursday, one was injured Friday, and all this coming after safety regulations were altered after six horses were killed there in 2010. I'd love to tell you this is all new, but 30 or so years ago I happened to cover chuckwagon racing in Alberta and was witness to a number of horses being killed - all in the name of sport and entertaininment. But understand, this isn't horse racing. This is one small, dangerous sport, and one small circuit. Fifty horses dead in 26 years. Thats enough to convince me its time to scratch chuckwagon racing from the Stampede program.
Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated: Because we all deserve a smile, my thumb is up to Teemu Selanne who returns for yet another season in Anaheim. No player radiates more conspicuous joy than Selanne, who is 42 going on 32. He does not defy age as much as wink at it with his annual will-he-or-won't-he-retire bit before he comes back for more. Selanne scored 26 goals last season, not bad for a winger who seemed washed up before the last lockout. Anaheim GM Brian Burke made a $1 million free-agent investment in 2005, and Selanne rewarded him with a 40-goal season. The Finnish Flash has been paying off for the Ducks, and hockey fans, ever since.
James Cybulski, TSN: My thumb is down to Devils enforcer Cam Janssen for his ridiculous comments on a radio show a few days ago. Janssen has since apologized, but not before reminding people how extreme some cases of homophobia still exists in sports. Trying to be funny is one thing, but insinuating that you'll beat someone up because of one's sexual orientation is downright neanderthal to me. Last I checked, its 2012 right? The NHL warned players after an incident last year that this sort of behaviour won't be tolerated anymore. In recent months, several of the game's biggest stars have leant their names to the You Can Play project in attempt to eliminate this sort of attitude, but Janssen's comments shows there's more work to be done.