Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week, they discuss the NFL and Ray Rice, questionable coaching decisions, FIFA and the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Bruce Arthur, Toronto Star
My thumb is down to the National Football League, which may sound familiar. The monster-truck league smashes anything in its path, from brain damage to PEDs to painkiller addiction, but this time it's something else. Baltimore Ravens star running back Ray Rice knocked his fiancee unconscious in an elevator in the off-season. Still, the Ravens defended him. The NFL's typical suspension for drugs of any kind is four games; it just gave Minnesota special teams coach Mike Preifer three games for homophobic remarks. Knock a woman out? Two games. Pathetic. The only thing worse than the NFL's dismissal of domestic violence was the debate that followed, in which so many sad men made excuses for Rice. But then, after all, the NFL and the Ravens pretty much did it first.
Steve Simmons, Toronto Sun
My thumb is down to Chris Jones, the first year coach of the Edmonton Eskimos, for calling one of the most outrageous gambles I've seen in more than 40 years of watching the Canadian Football League. Now I love a good, educated gamble. This just wasn't one of them. With time running out late in the first half against the Calgary Stampeders, rather than punt the ball, jones called a fake end around - from his own end zone. Needless to say, the Eskimos didn't make the long first down, turned the ball over, and one play later, bang, Calgary scored a touchdown, and guess what, the Stampeders wound up winning by less than the score of that TD. Now I like Chris Jones and I think he's going to be a terrific CFL head coach. But there's no place for high school logic in professional football.
Cathal Kelly, Globe and Mail
My thumb is up to FIFA - a rarity - for their refusal this week to pull the 2018 World Cup away from Russia. It would be satisfying to do so, and would please many of their critics. But, as football's ruling body pointed out, no boycott has ever stopped a war and sports are an enormously positive force for change. The biggest tournament in the world will be a useful carrot in the coming years. Why apply the stick now? There will be time to reconsider this decision, but not until Russia has been forced to think hard about what it wants more in the international community - territorial gains or friends in the game.
Dave Hodge, TSN
My thumb is up to today's Baseball Hall of Fame class that numbers six inductees - former players Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas - and former managers Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox. In some of the coming years, we assume it'll be tough to elect one Hall of Fame member, never mind six, because so many votes will be held back from candidates known to have used or thought to have used steroids. Ironic then, to see a class of six, requiring speeches shorter than usual. Baseball celebrates its best in a big way--while it can, before it can't.