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Insights: Sports

As the number of injured professional athletes rises, compensation is finally catching up
George Vecsey
From the Print Edition:
Raquel Welch, Jul/Aug 01

I have a dirty little professional secret: in more than a couple of decades of sportswriting, I have habitually performed mental body English against the Yankees and Notre Dame and the old Boston Celtics.

"Please, Lord," I have whispered in press galleries around the world, "anybody else but these guys" -- obviously to little avail, as long as they could play.

However, for some reason surely not to my credit, I seem to have absolutely no problem with the whippy athlete in the cranberry-colored shirt winning golf championship after championship.

I accept Tiger Woods as unparalleled sporting greatness, and feel comfortable living in his world.

And it's not just me. Among the general populace, there seems to be hardly a smidgen of resentment for the way Tiger racked up the Masters in April, thereby holding all four major championships at the same time.

Fans even seem willing to ignore the tradition of golf, and grant him the Grand Slam.

That's a bit much for me. One of these years Tiger may even win the real Grand Slam -- four in one calendar year, accomplished only once -- and more power to him when he does.

Vox populi wants to give it all to Tiger, right here, right now. As the disc jockey said, "Don't they know? You can't stop rock 'n roll."

I do not need to tell you it is not always that way. More often than not, athletes trying to break records run into a retro brand of sentimentality.

Old crocks grumble that the old players were better, and besides, times were harder, and equipment was shoddier, and the money today corrupts everything, so bah-humbug on Iverson (Jeter, Manning, Hingis, Jagr, Zidane, etc., etc.).


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