Records and controversies dominate sports world

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Town Crier Sports Staff

It's been quite a week in sports. Barry Bonds became the all-time home run king in the major leagues, Tiger Woods won his 13th major championship by capturing the PGA title, moving closer to Jack Nicklaus' record 18 majors, and more controversy reared its ugly head in the continuing soap opera surrounding Razorback Head Football Coach Houston Nutt.

Bonds broke Hank Aaron's 34 year-old home run mark when he launched a 400-foot blast off Washington National pitcher Mike Bascik Tuesday, Aug. 7, in San Francisco. But the historic shot comes amidst a swirl of controversy concerning Bonds alleged use of steroids. Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig was absent for the record breaking achievement, while Aaron also wasn't in attendance, although the former Brave great did send a taped message via satellite.

Woods grabbed the lead in the second round of the PGA Championship at the Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., and never looked back in his quest to overtake the Golden Bear and claim the title of "world's greatest golfer." The only question about Woods is whether his competition is as tough as what Nicklaus competed against. While Tiger faces the likes of Ernie Els, Phil Mickleson, and Vijah Singh, Nicklaus battled legends Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, and Gary Player, among others. At 31 years of age, Woods seems destined to eclipse the Bear's record, but the debate over who is the best will likely go on forever.

As the first weekend of the college football season nears, Razorback fans are torn over the anticipation of what could be an outstanding year and the off the field rumors surrounding their head coach. While true Hog fans should be concentrating on Darren McFadden and his Heisman trophy run, the so-called "darksiders" continue to badger Nutt with rumors and innuendoes.

I have followed the Razorbacks passionately for over 40 years and have never seen the fan base as divided as it is today. Nutt earned the right to coach another year when he led the Hogs to a 10 win season and a Western division championship in the rugged SEC after back to back losing years. Like him or not, it was Nutt who recruited the likes of last year's Heisman runner-up as well as 12 pre-season all conference selections for the upcoming season. Nutt, who is entering his tenth year as the Head Hog, sent three players to the NFL in the first two rounds of the recent June draft, so the talent on the hill comes from Nutt and his assistant coaches' efforts.

But perhaps that is what makes sports so entertaining and enjoyable. We sports fanatics choose who to cheer for and we all have the right to our own opinions. My opinion of Bonds, Woods, and Nutt may differ from some or even most. I think Bonds is the home run king unless it is proved without a shadow of a doubt that he used steroids. Whether he has or not doesn't diminish the fact that he is one of the greatest players of all time.

I believe Nicklaus faced far greater competition among his closest rivals, but that doesn't mean Woods couldn't have enjoyed the same success if he had played in that era. There is no denying Tiger's great skills.

As far as Nutt goes, the Little Rock native is not one of my favorite Razorback coaches, but I will support the Hogs as long as he coaches and will continue to support whoever takes his place. That's what true fans should do. If not, you are not really a fan at all.

As summer comes to a close, the sports world will continue to bring records, thrills and controversies. It's the nature of the beast we fans have created.

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