Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week, they discuss the triumph of Alex Zanardi, the crowded Eskimos backfield, the outburst by Oscar Pistorius and head protection for pitchers.
Dave Naylor, TSN: My thumb is up to Alex Zanardi, the former Formula One race driver, who made news for crossing the finish line on a different set of wheels this past week. The 45-year-old won a pair of gold medals in the Paralympic sport of handcycling; a remarkable sporting comeback for a man who lost both his legs in a horrific crash more than a decade ago. Paralympic sport shouldn't always be about being inspirational. Like other forms of sport, sometimes it's simply athletic. But Zanardi acknowledged his story could be motivating to others saying "a lot of people watching me are going to say, 'bloody hell, if Zanardi did this, I can try. I can try. A good attempt, always brings a result.''
Steve Simmons, Sun Media: My thumb is down to the Edmonton Eskimos three-headed backfield by committee. It's bad enough they traded away Ricky Ray and didn't really have a replacement of any kind. But the Esks have three starting tailbacks, Jerome Messam, Cory Boyd and Hugh Charles, all of them quite capable, and only one football for any of them to play with. Truth is, when you have a Canadian like Messam, who can play the position and then some, it's really a no-brainer. You use the additional Canadian as a luxury so you can utilize another import elsewhere in your lineup. That's the bonus the offensively challenged Eskimos must take advantage of in the second half of this CFL season.
Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated: Weeks after Steve Simmons gave a thumbs up to Oscar Pistorius, my thumb is down to the most famous man on two blades. After losing a race against disabled competition for the first time in nine years, Pistorius ripped Paralympic 200 meter champion Alan Oliveira for the length of his prosthetic blades. Pistorius later apologized, but he could not un-ring this bell after stealing the spotlight from the triumphant Brazilian. There is still debate about Pistorius competing against non-disabled runners: the heart screams yes, of course, even if the science suggests no. For someone familiar with controversy, Pistorius needed to be more circumspect. His regrettable outburst made a larger than life figure seem small.
Dave Hodge, TSN: My thumb is up -- it's a "get well thumbs up" -- to Oakland A's pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who is recovering from brain surgery after being hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Erick Aybar of the LA Angels. It's the scariest sight imaginable during a game when a ball goes back to the mound like that, and my thumb will stay up for the ongoing movement, now stronger than ever, to equip pitchers with helmets that would protect them and wouldn't hinder their performance. Batters wear them, coaches wear them -- the death of minor-league coach Mike Coolbaugh forced that move. Brandon McCarthy's case should be taken no less seriously.