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July 26, 2016

There is a fine line between a donkey and a jackass

With the Democrats taking over Philadelphia this week, the time has come to recognize some of the donkeys in sports.

One thing you can be sure of is that in sports, there will always be someone else willing to step up and bray. If you haven’t heard a hee-haw today, just wait for tomorrow.

Then again, there are occasions when a guy might first sound like a donkey before you realize they are actually making some sense.

Let/s look at a couple of examples from the past week: The International Olympic Committee, and Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sale.

First off, the opinion here is that you can actually play pin the tail on all of the donkeys at IOC … but not so much with Sale.

Sale has been hammered from coast to coast for his actions when he went berserk over the weekend and turned himself into Edward Scissorhands. Sale was upset at the White Sox organization for a decision to wear what he considered “uncomfortable” throwback jerseys.

The team was scheduled to wear the collared jerseys on Saturday night for Sale’s start, and two days before the game he let it be known he would not be comfortable with the uniform. It was all to no avail, and the Sox went ahead with their plans – and Sale went bonkers.

In an act of temporary lunacy, Sale decided to cut up the jerseys, and in doing so he earned himself a five-game suspension. He also earned himself a place in the lore of American sports as the jersey cutting will be a point of reference when any athlete goes off the deep end.

Given the chance to explain his actions, Sale apologized to the team and its fans but remains steadfast in his claims that the uniform would have hampered his ability to pitch.

It was a childish tantrum. And it was delivered by a player who had already butted heads with the team by being vocal about the club’s decision to ban Adam LaRoche’s son from the locker room. In other words, Sale really can be a braying donkey.

However, behind this noise, there is an interesting thought process. The whole point of Sale’s complaints was that the team was putting marketing ahead of winning.

He insisted that he could not pitch at his best on what was a hot and humid day because of the uniform, and the team did nothing to remedy the situation. Although it does appear at least at first to be akin to a child stomping his feet, there does seem to be an appearance of the team putting the sale of jerseys over the winning of a game.

The reality is, professional sports leagues are as much a dry goods store as any department store – and often use the players as store window mannequins to sell jerseys, hats and equipment.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, a player who goes nuts because he doesn’t think the team was given the best chance to win by its front office doesn’t ring the bell as donkey of the week.

That award would go to the IOC, an organization that could have sent a loud and clear message about doping issues in the Olympics by banning the entire Russian team from the upcoming games. Instead the IOC, under the “leadership” of Thomas Bach, disgracefully surrendered to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

In the history of sports, there has not been a bigger scandal than the national doping program run by the various Russian federations. The Russians even exceeded the old East Germans, both in terms of the sheer numbers of athletes and the cover-ups.

The testing was a joke, and the Russians basically thumbed their noses at the IOC and the rest of the world.

The IOC could have sent a very clear message and added to the ban of the track and field athletes. Instead, Bach and the IOC decided to hide their collective heads in the sands of Rio.

It was a horrible decision that goes against all Olympic principles. The IOC punted the problem to the various federations to individually govern whatever semblance of sporting spirit is involved.

The fact that the IOC cowered in the face of Putin and the Russians has fouled the entire Olympic Games.