Trophy Nights and Cheating Teams. Ah, Sunday.

If ever there were two wildly different topics to cover on a blog, these would be the two, I believe.

Last night, Rebecca Lobo was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville (I still think it’s crazy the thing is in Knoxville, but I digress).  It’s only a matter of time, I believe, before she gets herself on the Springfield shortlist.  It’s hard to believe that I’ve known Becca for almost twenty (!!) years.  She and Pam were in the first graduating class I ever got emotional over.  The classes before, I was too young to comprehend it, and I wasn’t as close to them.  But when Pam and Becca graduated, I was 9.  I was old enough to understand-they weren’t coming back next season.  It was heartbreaking.  It really devastated me the next year, when Jen and JJ left.  But Pam and Becca were the first to really upset me with their graduation.

When Rebecca was playing for UCONN, she was a classy, tenacious, athlete whose polite manner off the court was in no way indicative of her ferocity on it.  That’s what I loved about those players we had in the mid-90s: they were so sweet and caring out of uniform, but the minute they put on the Husky blues, they would probably do everything short of murdering someone if it meant winning the game.  When we won it all in 1995, I remember the big hug Rebecca gave me.  She was sweaty, exhausted, and thrilled.  

I felt awful for Rebecca that her career in the WNBA was cut so short with the knee injuries; after a nearly flawless career at UCONN health-wise, she should have gotten a couple more years of playing time in the pros.  But she has transitioned beautifully into a commentator and blogger for ESPN, and her Tweets about the game and her family are both profound and hysterical.  It helps that her husband, Steve Rushin, is an accomplished author and Tweeter himself.  Go buy his book, The Pint Man, out in stores now. (There’s the plug, Becca!)

Now that I’m grown, we have a different relationship.  She’ll come up to us during dead spots in games and we’ll have a chat, and joke around.  At one point during our stay in Ohio, she came up to our dinner table and whispered to me, “I am still so under CD’s control…I don’t want her to see me because she’ll yell at me for dressing too casual!” And when she found out my sister was expecting, she ran up to her in San Antonio and they swapped pregnancy stories.

Rebecca, no one is more deserving of the title “Hall of Famer” than you.  You are a wonderful, funny, brilliant person, and I only hope this puts you firmly in the history books as one of women’s basketball’s greatest all-around stars.

And, let’s face it, I wouldn’t have half my Twitter followers if it weren’t for Rebecca’s consistent “Follow Friday” recommendations.  So, thanks for that, too!

And now for the bad part of my post.  It has to do with sports, so I must address it.

I’ll call this section of my post ‘Cheating’, or ‘USC, You’ve Got Some Splaining to Do.’

Let’s face it; cheating is a dirty thrill.  We all do it.  People cheat on tests and their loved ones.  We cheat in business and in pleasure.  Abby Sunderland cheated death this weekend (I honestly thought she had capsized and thank every god in the pantheon she didn’t).  And let’s face it, most of the time, people don’t get caught.

I have always been taught by my family that cheating is a dirty, dirty thing to do.  One should make their own way, rather than profiting off others.  If there is one thing my father has been accused of that makes me the angriest, it’s any accusations of cheating.  I dare you to find a cleaner program.  Yes, there was one little snafu with a certain orange school in the south.  But we were exonerated.  There was no cheating involved.

Well, apparently USC decided just simple cheating was not enough.  They had to become the grand poobahs of dirty dealings.  And boy, did they get caught.

I don’t understand why people cheat in sports.  It’s like they don’t think they’ll get caught, or they think they’re too special and there’s no way they’ll get caught.  It’s like those dirtbags on Maury who deny they’re the child’s father until the paternity tests come out, and then it’s all mea culpa from then on.

It is the rare thing that pisses me off more in sports than the revealing of cheats.  Actually, it pisses me off even more when bribery and payment come into the equation.  The fact that USC has to relinquish its National Championship as well as forgo several bowls, not to mention Reggie Bush might have to give up his Heisman Trophy from that year…it’s enough to make my eyes and ears bleed.

It’s not just USC that’s had problems over the past years.  Indiana has dwindled from a national powerhouse to a struggling name thanks to one too many illegal phone calls.  John Calipari goes from school to school, taking high-ranking recruits and revoked championships with him.  And now, we at UCONN are dealing with the fall-out of violations in the men’s program.

And then there’s Lane Kiffin.  Oh, Lane.  What are you doing? With the limos and the 13 year old recruits and the calling out of Urban Meyer.  Pete Carroll was right to get out of USC when he did, although now he’s in hot water anyway because he was the coach during the time these violations took place.

Did they think they couldn’t win if they didn’t cheat? You’re from the University of Southern California, for cryin’ out loud. Winning is in your nature.  Work a little harder next time.  I promise you, the wins will come.  Take it from someone who knows what they’re talking about: work hard, and reap those benefits.  Don’t make a name for yourself in swindling the hopes and dreams of die-hard Trojans.

Of course, it’s not just basketball.  Baseball will never be the same for me.  Neither will track and field, or even women’s gymnastics (those Chinese gymnasts were twelve, I tell you! TWELVE!).  We live in a society where it’s not about whether you win or lose.  It’s about winning, by any means necessary.

Winning isn’t everything.  Not when it costs a little piece of your soul.

But enough of my ranting and raving.  I plan to soak up some long-absent sun this weekend by joining my family at our shore house before I start my summer job of teaching kids at a local children’s theater.  I’ve been looking forward to this job for months.  When I left NYC last year, I thought to myself “You are going to teach at C.A.S.T.” and my heart swelled with joy.

Find something you love, and remain tremendously interested in it.  Without having to resort to tricks…

ally

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