Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Sports Are Not Fair

Sometimes, sports are not fair. Sure, the games have a score and clearly delineated winners and losers laid out in black and white for all to see. When it comes down to evaluating individual participants, though, there are often shades of gray to discern. From my vantage point, two quarterbacks in yesterday’s bowl games, Cody Hodges and Marcus Vick, illustrate this point.

Hodges was the quarterback for Texas Tech, a fifth-year senior who waited until this season to be handed the keys to Coach Mike Leach’s high-octane offense. It was worth the wait. The Red Raiders finished the regular season 9-2 and earned a Cotton Bowl bid vs. Alabama, the #2 ranked defense in the nation.

Vick is the quarterback for Virginia Tech, a redshirt sophomore who did not play in 2004 due to his well documented legal problems. He led the Hokies to a national ranking as high as #3 and a spot in the ACC championship game. Despite losing to Florida State, Tech finished 10-2 and earned a spot in the Gator Bowl to play Louisville.

Both quarterbacks faced adversity yesterday and handled it in completely different manners. Hodges twisted his knee in the fourth quarter vs. Alabama and sat out a series while they were taping it up like a mummy. With his team trailing 10-3, Hodges lobbied his coach to put him back in the game. Leach did so, and the hobbling Hodges threw a late touchdown pass that tied the game.

Vick got off to a very slow start against a surprisingly tough Louisville defense and the Cardinals led the game into the third quarter. While things were going poorly for Vick and the Hokies’ offense, he responded by, apparently intentionally, stepping on the knee of Louisville star defensive end Elvis Dumervil while he was trying to get out of the pile after a play. Vick claims it was accidental, but also claimed that Dumervil accepted his apology after the game. Dumervil says no apology was offered for him to accept.

If sports were fair, Texas Tech rides the heroic performance by Hodges to victory, and Vick winds up getting pounded and looking out of the earhole of his helmet while his Hokies are losing.

Instead, Alabama moved down the field to kick a last second field goal and defeat Texas Tech 13-10, and Vick, along with a strong Virginia Tech defensive effort in the second half, came back to beat Louisville going away.

Despite the numbers on the scoreboard, I’d much rather be in Cody Hodges’ skin this morning than Marcus Vick’s. If I want to root for someone, I’ll always take the athlete that exhibits character, not the one who has a track record of acting like a young punk.


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