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This fall, I'm hoping crime is left behind and sports is just, well, sports

August 26, 2007|By TIM SHEA

Tomorrow at a federal courthouse in Atlanta, Falcons quarterback Michael Vick reportedly will enter a guilty plea in connection with his alleged role in a dogfighting ring in Virginia.

On Aug. 15, NBA referee Tim Donaghy pleaded guilty to two federal charges related to allegations that he bet on games he officiated during the last two seasons and that he made calls affecting the point spread in those games.

On Aug. 7, Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron's record for most home runs in a career, much to the delight of fans in San Francisco and the scorn of many others throughout the U.S.

What happened to the old days, when the sports pages were filled with stories about ... well, sports?

Instead, we continue to read about such topics as cheating in NASCAR, which has resulted in suspensions. Even Jeff Gordon was docked 100 points earlier this year for an infraction.

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And don't even bring up the Tour de France, where doping violations now dominate the headlines since Lance Armstrong retired.

Now, you even have to worry about tennis and wonder whether the players are really trying to win.

This summer of discontent is nearly over, and maybe we can start to focus on the games again.

With schools back in session, it will be nice to read about high school and college football games instead of the latest performance-enhancing drug scandal.

There will be plenty of feel-good stories over the next few months about athletes who are on the field because of their love of the game and not for the money.

Shepherd University is ranked in the top 10 in NCAA Division II football, and the Rams play just over the state line in Shepherdstown, W.Va. Few, if any, of the players will continue their football careers when their eligibility is completed, but hopefully they will earn their degrees and take their experiences from the playing field into the real world.

At Hagerstown Community College, Hancock native Terry Truax has returned home to be the head basketball coach. Maybe the former Towson State University coach can return the Hawks to the glory days of the early 1990s.

But there also will be hundreds of other local athletes who won't get the recognition that the Shepherd football players and HCC basketball team will receive, but will go through hours of practices and games just because they want to play.

And even with all of the bad publicity that pro sports have been receiving lately, there are plenty of athletes and coaches out there who can serve as role models.

Look at the NFL. While some players draw too much attention to themselves with their antics, there are others like Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison and Ladanian Tomlinson who simply go about their business with a high level of professionalism and class.

Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy dealt with his son's suicide with dignity, and finally won a Super Bowl championship last season. And members of the New Orleans Saints have helped out in the community following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Maybe it's appropriate that the NFL season kicks off Sept. 6 with a game between the defending champion Colts and the Saints.

And hopefully, the sports pages can start focusing on the games again.

Tim Shea is a Herald-Mail copy editor. He may be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2329, or by e-mail at tims@herald-mail.com

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