Bruce Arthur, Toronto Star: My thumb is up to small mercies for Toronto Maple Leafs fans. Every year, ESPN the magazine ranks 122 North American sports franchises, and this year, the Leafs ranked dead last. They were 119th last year, 122nd the year before that, 120th, 121st, 120th - well, you get the picture. ESPN uses a mixture of factors, but the Leafs are persistently rotten in both affordability and wins, the first of which has no chance to changing this season. But there's an upside to the bottom of the barrel: it can't get worse, right? Well, of course it can. Beer prices could rise, a meteor could strike, some league could add an expansion team. But numerically, this is as bad as it gets. If you're a Leafs fan, well, that's got to count for something.
Steve Simmons, SUN Media: My thumb is down to the National Football League - I know, it's an easy target these days - for its inability to see success, celebrate it, and understand the moment. On Thursday night, Devin Hester - now of the Atlanta Falcons - broke Deion Sanders' remarkable record for most return touchdowns in history. Hester did so with style, with Deion in the building and he did so by paying tribute to Sanders by high-stepping the final yards to the end zone. For that, he should have been applauded for both respect and his acknowledgment of history. Instead, he was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. The NFL, in need of an moment it could call good news, flagged itself on the play, spoiling the celebration.
Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated: My thumb is up to the other referendum in Scotland this week. By a resounding margin of 85 to 15 per cent, the Royal & Ancient voted to allow women members at St. Andrew's. Nice of these gents to enter a new century: The 20th century. Please hold your applause. Finishing runner-up to Augusta National in the category of social change is only mildly praiseworthy. At an existential level, golf is the most egalitarian sport. The only thing that matters is the number on the scorecard. But getting to post that number, getting through the figurative gates to the first tee in this exclusive sport, can make an otherwise great game exasperating.
Dave Hodge, TSN: Once more before he plays his last game, my thumb is up to Derek Jeter and the way he has conducted his career. I'm not suggesting he's a) the greatest shortstop or b) the best person in baseball history … a) he's not and b) he's probably not. But Derek Jeter has represented himself, his team, his city and his sport about as well as you could want. If you were writing a handbook guide for future athletes, Jeter could be chapter one. Who knows how many would turn out like him, but the number would be greater because of the opportunity to witness what he has done, and to learn from it. Don't make him an idol--the sports world has too many who aren't. Make him a good example--the sports world has too few who are.