|EDITOR’S CORNER: Recapping the top sports scandals of 2012|
|Written by Tawni Ricketts, Sports Editor|
|Monday, 14 January 2013 17:45|
For many, the start of a new year means a clean slate — a chance to forgive and forget, to improve oneself and to learn from mistakes. But sometimes, forgiving and forgetting is easier said than done, especially when it comes to national and international icons like athletes, who serve as role models, leaders and pioneers in the sporting industry.
Scandals and controversies are unearthed every year — that’s nothing new. But 2012’s top-four scandals did a little more than raise a few eyebrows — they dropped millions of jaws.
In February of 2012, the New Orleans Saints were accused of paying “bounties” to their defenders as motivation to intentionally injure their opponents. The allegations implied that the operation began in 2009 — the year that the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV — and continued to 2011. In March of 2012, the NFL announced that it had evidence that New Orleans’ defensive coordinator Gregg Williams had implemented the program, and that as many as 27 players were involved in the scandal.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t take the situation lightly, suspending many of the players and members of the coaching staff, including Williams, who was suspended indefinitely, and Saints head coach Sean Payton, who was suspended for the entire 2012 season. The organization was also fined $500,000 and forced to surrender its second-round draft selections.
The 2012 London Games encompassed not just one, but numerous controversies and scandals. From drunk driving, to drug use, to racism, to intentionally throwing badminton matches, the summer Olympics ended with disgrace for many countries.
Social media seemed to be the source of most evil during The Games as numerous tweets reflecting racism and hatred resulted in the dismissal of a handful of athletes.
Swiss soccer player Michel Morganella showed his true colors after suffering defeat to South Korea when he tweeted “[South Koreans] can go burn.” He also referred to them as a “bunch of mongoloids,” — sore losing at its finest.
Triple jumper Voula Papachristou poorly represented Greece’s Olympic track and field team when she tweeted “With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!” You stay classy, Voula.
Say hello to one of the biggest hypocrites in history — Lance Armstrong.
Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life from cycling in October of 2012 after he was accused of heading a colossal doping program for his teams.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) reported that Armstrong and his teams used performance-enhancing drugs like steroids, a blood booster called EPO and blood transfusions.
Armstrong admitted to using these drugs on Jan. 12 in an interview with Oprah Winfrey
Armstrong also founded the globally recognized cancer-fighting charity, and now brand, “Livestrong.” The organization’s mission statement reads as follows (as stated on www.livestrong.com):
“We believe that everyone should feel empowered through food, fitness, and inspiration to pursue their best life because eating well and staying active are critical components in preventing cancer and fighting other illnesses.”
It forgot to mention “dope” in between “food” and “fitness.”
It peaked out from under the rug in 2011, but the Penn State Scandal came to a head in 2012 when Jerry Sandusky — the 30-year assistant of the late legendary Joe Pa and defensive coordinator of one of the most successful college football programs in the nation, Penn State — was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Thirty must be his magic number.
Sandusky’s sentence was based on 45 counts of child sex abuse to 10 boys over a 15-year period.
An investigation of the scandal conducted in the summer of 2012 concluded that Joe Pa and other Penn State officials did in fact turn a blind eye to the tragedy in order to avoid “bad publicity.”
$60 million, a four-year postseason football ban and the loss of all victories dating back to 1998 later, I think it’s safe to say they received a little more than “bad publicity.”
The Penn State scandal is undoubtedly the biggest scandal of 2012, and one of the biggest scandals in the nation’s sporting history. While the other scandals and controversies hurt reputations and feelings, the Penn State scandal intentionally caused harm to both the physical and mental states of children — harm that may never heal.
For Sandusky and Penn State, it’s a little too late to learn from their “mistakes” and wipe their slates clean for 2013, but for everyone else, this conflict can serve as a learning experience — one that stresses the importance of DOING SOMETHING in the year to come.