December 05, 2017

The IOC finally got something right by banning Russia from upcoming Winter Games

Al Morganti Opinion
120517_Putin-Olympics_AP RIA Novosti Kremlin, Mikhail Klimentyev/Presidential Press Service via AP, file

In this Feb. 24, 2014 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, toasts a glass of champagne with the International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.

In the biggest Olympic upset since Team USA beat the Soviets on the ice at Lake Placid in 1980 – the Russians have been banned from the 2018 Games.

Believe it or not, the International Olympic Committee did something right on Tuesday when it banned Russia from competing in the upcoming 2018 Winter Games in South Korea.

The IOC actually stood up to the Russians who have made a mockery of the games with doping scandals. Indeed, athletes from all nations have been caught cheating, but in the case of the Russians, it was state sponsored doping at the 2014 games sponsored and hosted by the Russians in Sochi.

There has been nothing like this since the outrageous conduct of East Germany through the 60s and 70s. Fortunately, there are now scientific means to prove these doping allegations. And because of this, Russian athletes who can prove they are clean can compete under a neutral Olympic flag and anthem.

Back in the USSR, this is a huge blow to the Russians and president Vladimir Putin, as the country uses the Olympic stage as a show of power. Putin and government officials will not be allowed to attend the games, and their official medal total will be recorded as a big fat ZERO.

The IOC has been guilty of many foolish rulings in the past, but they finally got one right this time, and it was a big one.

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You have to be somewhat amazed at the outrage so many people have expressed following Monday Night Football’s vicious game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals.

It was a violent affair, one that included Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier leaving the field on the stretcher with a spinal injury, and one monster hit after another. In the aftermath, the NFL has suspended Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster for one game after a monster blindside hit to Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict.

Before the game even ended, people were howling about the state of the game and the dangerous conduct of the players.

What did they expect?

This is a league that sells its biggest hits, and there is simply no way to conduct the business of the NFL without those big hits.

The NFL could and should have sent a very clear message about dirty play the day before when New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski was only given a one-game suspension for a ludicrous late hit on Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White. White is in concussion protocol, and Gronkowski should be gone for the season. 

But that is not the way it works in the NFL.

The NFL knows that it is this mayhem that drives the league’s appeal and they are wary of sanitizing the sport. There have been warnings that parents watching such crash-and-burn antics will lead to fewer participants in the sport, but all you have to do is watch the crowds at high school games to realize that seems like a hollow worry.

It is up to the NFL Players Association to make player safety a bigger concern than getting every last quarter it can from the owners. 

In the meantime when you hear people rail that the game is just too violent, watch them turn on the TV for the next collision.

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The Eagles rule the dumpster fire that is the NFC East, but the hottest flames swirl around the New York Giants, who finally fired coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese.

The final act of the mess played out when two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Eli Manning was benched in favor of Geno Smith. While you could make a very strong argument that Manning should have been benched – and might be done – the move to Smith was absurd, and the Giants took a well-deserved public spanking for the move. 

The only act missing from this mess was to have Manning announce the firings.

Nice to see things going so swimmingly in Giant land, Redskin territory, and Cowboy Nation.

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Raise your hand if you are shocked that Japanese star pitcher/outfielder Shohei Ohtani had no interest in coming to Philadelphia to play for the Phillies.

Didn’t think so.

Now, raise your hand if you are surprised he had no interest in the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox. That was a bit of a shock, and while many people in the baseball world are questioning how mentally tough Ohtani is because he doesn’t want any part of New York or Boston, it might just be that he doesn’t need the huge spotlight and would rather play where he is more comfortable.

So, maybe he goes to the Angels and becomes such a big star that the team has to pay him stupid money and they have to trade ... yep, start the Mike Trout to Philadelphia rumors in the near future.


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