From the Washington Times-
Generally speaking, all-star games don’t generate the same excitement as regular-season games, despite the presence of the best players in baseball, because they don’t mean anything â€” well, other than deciding which league gets home-field advantage in the World Series.
All-Star pitcher Zito wanted to change that: “I don’t want this date to pass without recognizing our country’s brave soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen and Marines, who are America’s true all-stars and who represent our country with honor while fighting for our freedom,” he said before the game Tuesday night. So, Zito decided that for every strikeout thrown, he would donate $500 to assist wounded troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Bethesda Naval Medical Center and other military hospitals in the country.
That was $300 more than Zito and dozens of other players have pledged to donate during regular season games through “Strikeout for Troops.” Since the program’s inception in April 2005, it has raised more than $190,000, much of which has come from players and fans. After Tuesday’s night game, Zito added $5,500 to that total, thanks to the whiffs and curveballs of his fellow players.
Readers can check out the good work players like Zito are doing over at their Web site, www.strikeoutfortroops.com, which explains how they can get involved.
For making a strikeout not such a bad thing (for the batters), Zito and the rest of the players at “Strikeout for Troops” are the Nobles of the week.
Barry Zito and the other players involved in this fundraising are true nobles. God bless them and our troops.
Bruce Arena was essentially fired as coach of Team USA today.
U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati announced Friday that U.S. Men’s National Team coach Bruce Arena, the longest-tenured national team coach at the World Cup, will not return to the U.S. team after his contract expires at the end of the year. Arena met with Gulati and U.S. Soccer Secretary General Dan Flynn for five hours Thursday at LaGuardia Airport, and a decision was finalized Friday morning.
Arena out as U.S. coach
Gulati said a worldwide search to find a replacement will begin immediately. Speculation will center on JÃ¼rgen Klinsmann, who coached the German national team to a third-place finish in this month’s World Cup. Klinsmann, who lives in California with his family, stepped down from the German post earlier this week, saying he felt, “burnt out.”
“Bruce expressed a desire to continue,” Gulati said. “I’m sure he’ll have opportunities. He had a great opportunity before the World Cup, but he didn’t want to be distracted. No doubt there will be multiple opportunities in the soccer world in the U.S. and outside if he wants them.”
Arena, hired in October 1998, will leave the national team as the winningest coach in its history. He coached the 2002 U.S. men’s team to the quarterfinals of the World Cup, the Americans’ best World Cup showing more than 70 years. But Arena’s squad disappointed at this year’s World Cup, failing to advance out of group play as it lost to the Czech Republic and Ghana and tied eventual World Cup champion Italy. “It comes down primarily to eight years being a long period,” Gulati said. “I’m not going to say we felt the need to change directions. The direction Bruce has set is very, very positive. We didn’t get the results we wanted in the World Cup, but Bruce didn’t become a bad coach in three games with a few bad bounces of the ball.”
Indeed not. Still, given the vast size and resources of the United States, it’s simply inexcusable that the team is not competitive for a world title in any sport it sets its mind to winning. The team’s performance at the 2006 World Cup was nothing short of a national humiliation.
Today’s NYT has a long feature on one particular Sociology professor who almost singlehandedly ensured Auburn’s football team had the best grades of any squad in the nation.
A graphic popped up on James Gundlachâ€™s television during an Auburn football game in the fall of 2004, and he could not believe his eyes. One of the universityâ€™s prominent football players was being honored as a scholar athlete for his work as a sociology major. Professor Gundlach, the director of the Auburn sociology department, had never had the player in class. He asked two other full-time sociology professors about the player, and they could not recall having taught him, either. So Professor Gundlach looked at the playerâ€™s academic files, which led him to the discovery that many Auburn athletes were receiving high grades from the same professor for sociology and criminology courses that required no attendance and little work.
[Isn't that true of all sociology and criminology courses? -ed.]
Much more below the fold.
Eighteen members of the 2004 Auburn football team, which went undefeated and finished No. 2 in the nation, took a combined 97 hours of the courses during their careers. The offerings, known as directed-reading courses, resemble independent study and include core subjects like statistics, theory and methods, which normally require class instruction.
The professor for those players and many other athletes was Thomas Petee, the sociology departmentâ€™s highest-ranking member. The star running back Carnell (Cadillac) Williams, now playing in the National Football League, said the only two classes he took during the spring semester of his senior year were one-on-one courses with Professor Petee. At one point, Professor Petee was carrying the workload of more than three and a half professors, an academic schedule that his colleagues said no one could legitimately handle. â€œIt was a lot of work,â€ Professor Petee said. â€œAnd I basically wore myself out.â€
Professor Peteeâ€™s directed-reading classes, which nonathletes took as well, helped athletes in several sports improve their grade-point averages and preserve their athletic eligibility. A number of athletes took more than one class with Professor Petee over their careers: one athlete took seven such courses, three athletes took six, five took five and eight took four, according to records compiled by Professor Gundlach. He also found that more than a quarter of the students in Professor Peteeâ€™s directed-reading courses were athletes. (Professor Gundlach could not provide specific names because of student privacy laws.)
The Auburn football teamâ€™s performance in the N.C.A.A.â€™s new rankings of student athletesâ€™ academic progress surprised many educators on and off campus. The team had the highest ranking of any Division I-A public university among college footballâ€™s six major conferences. Over all among Division I-A football programs, Auburn trailed only Stanford, Navy and Boston College, and finished just ahead of Duke.
In the spring of 2005, Professor Gundlach confronted Professor Petee, to whom he reported, about the proliferation of directed-reading courses. That spring, the universityâ€™s administration told Professor Petee he was carrying too many of the classes. Far fewer have been offered since.
The 18 football players received an average G.P.A. of 3.31 in the classes, according to statistics compiled by Professor Gundlach. In all of their other credit hours at Auburn, their average was 2.14.
â€œHeâ€™s the kind of teacher that, you know, he wants to help you out, not just pile a lot of stuff on you,â€ said Carlos Rogers, a former sociology major and defensive back who left the university early and now plays in the N.F.L. for the Washington Redskins.
Mr. Williams said one of the two directed-reading courses he took with Professor Petee during the spring of 2005 was a statistics class. Asked if that course, considered the most difficult in the sociology major, was available to regular students as a directed reading, Professor Petee said, â€œNo, not usually.â€
Mr. Williams described the class this way: â€œYouâ€™re just studying different kinds of math. Itâ€™s one of those things where you write a report about the different theories and things like that.â€ He said that Virgil Starks, the director of Student Athlete Support Services at Auburn, set up the courses. Mr. Starks said scheduling was not his responsibility, but that of the deanâ€™s office. Mr. Williams said he appreciated the convenience of the two courses, because he was traveling around the country auditioning for N.F.L. teams at the time. â€œI didnâ€™t do nothing illegal or anything like that,â€ he said when told that Professor Petee was under investigation. â€œMy work was good. It was definitely real work.â€ Mr. Williams said Professor Petee asked him to autograph a football once when they met in his office. â€œTo be honest with you, if they think thatâ€™s a problem, they need to investigate all the teachers at Auburn,â€ Mr. Williams said.
Mr. Williams, who now plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, had already completed his football eligibility at Auburn. He was a B student, according to Professor Petee. But Professor Petee also acknowledged that by taking those two classes, Mr. Williams helped boost Auburnâ€™s standing in the academic rankings. He left Auburn six credits short of graduating.
The academic journey of the former Auburn defensive end Doug Langenfeld illustrates how Professor Petee and the athletic department helped athletes remain eligible. When Mr. Langenfeld arrived at Auburn in 2003 from a junior college in California, he wanted to major in nursing. To do so would have required him to take a heavy load of 21 credits his first semester. Instead, he said, Mr. Starks suggested he major in sociology. Mr. Langenfeld asked for advice from Mr. Williams, who claimed that the major was â€œeasy if you studied.â€
In the fall of 2004, Mr. Langenfeld found himself in an academic bind. More than two months into the fall semester, he realized he had been attending the wrong class because of a scheduling error. Mr. Langenfeld approached Professor Gundlach about adding a class, but Professor Gundlach said he could not help him because it was too late in the semester.
Mr. Langenfeld then went to his academic counselor in the athletic department, Brett Wohlers, with a plea: â€œI got dropped from a class and need a class to stay eligible for the bowl game,â€ Mr. Langenfeld recalled in a recent telephone interview. â€œI need a class, and Iâ€™ll take any class right now. I donâ€™t not want to play in my last bowl game.â€
He said Mr. Wohlers told him about a â€œone-assignment classâ€ that other players had taken and enjoyed. So in the â€œninth or 10th week,â€ Mr. Langenfeld said, he picked up a directed-reading course with Professor Petee. Semesters typically run 15 weeks. Mr. Langenfeld said he had to read one book, but he could not recall the title. He said he was required to hand in a 10-page paper on the book. Between picking up the class and handing in the paper, he said, he met several times with Professor Petee in his office.
â€œI got a B in the class,â€ said Mr. Langenfeld, who started in the Sugar Bowl against Virginia Tech. â€œThat was a good choice for me.â€
Professors around the university said they saw Mr. Langenfeldâ€™s late-semester rescue as inappropriate. When told of Mr. Langenfeldâ€™s situation, David Cicci, the chairman-elect of Auburnâ€™s faculty senate, said: â€œFrom my point of view, thatâ€™s not much work for three credit hours. Itâ€™s an awful lot of credits for reading one book.â€
At a heated faculty meeting in the spring of 2005, Professor Gundlach challenged Professor Petee. The number of directed readings that Professor Petee offered had jumped to 152 in the spring of 2005, from 120 in the fall of 2004. Professor Gundlach described them as fake courses and said they were undermining the departmentâ€™s integrity. Professor Petee offered 15 different courses as directed readings both semesters, along with teaching regular courses. His full-time-equivalent number on his teaching schedule for the fall of 2004 was 3.5, or the workload of three and a half professors. In the spring, it rose to 3.67. He was not compensated for the extra work.
Also after the confrontation in the faculty meeting, Professor Peteeâ€™s grades for the football players dropped sharply. Professor Gundlach found that before the meeting, the players received 81.1 percent Aâ€™s and 16.8 percent Bâ€™s in directed-reading courses with Professor Petee. After the meeting, those numbers fell to 40.9 percent Aâ€™s and 51.7 percent Bâ€™s.
Professor Petee defended his record on directed readings, saying he provided so many because of an influx of students, a shortage of faculty and the convenience of using the Web to communicate with and teach students. Professor Petee said that the classes were structured, even though he did not meet with the students regularly, if at all. The department office assistant at the time, Rebecca Gregory, said Professor Petee managed the work with students primarily through e-mail messages. â€œI would give you a readings course that amounts to substantively reading the stuff,â€ Professor Petee said. â€œYouâ€™re going to be going through the process of doing the work in the course. Youâ€™re going to have to take exams. Youâ€™re going to have to write a paper.â€
Professor Peteeâ€™s mentor, the former sociology department director Gregory Kowalski, said he considered Professor Petee like â€œa brother.â€ Still, he said, he could not find any comparable situation at Auburn in which one teacher taught so many directed-reading courses. â€œI donâ€™t think it was anything malicious or that he had anything to gain,â€ Mr. Kowalski said. â€œHeâ€™s always been a very accommodating faculty member.â€
But the numbers baffled educators around the university. â€œI have never heard of anything of this magnitude in any discipline at any university,â€ Mr. Cicci said.
Auburn University has had its share of embarrassing incidents involving athletes. In 1991, tapes of the football coach at the time, Pat Dye, talking about arranging a loan for a player were aired on â€œ60 Minutes.â€ In the late 1990â€™s, a star tailback from two decades earlier, James Brooks, told a judge in a child-support case that he was illiterate and had used his athletic prowess to skate through high school and college. Brooks did not graduate.
In November 2003, the university president and the athletic director flew on the private plane of a booster and trustee, Bobby Lowder, to the outskirts of Louisville, Ky. They held a meeting with Bobby Petrino, the University of Louisville coach, to gauge his interest in replacing Tommy Tuberville as the head coach at Auburn. No permission was sought from Louisville, and both coaches were still under contract. Through a spokesman, Mr. Tuberville declined to be interviewed for this article. The news of the visit emerged, and William Walker, Auburnâ€™s president, resigned under pressure two months later. Mr. Tuberville remained as coach and led the Tigers to a 13-0 record the next season.
Auburn admitted two football players in the fall of 2004, Lorenzo Ferguson and Ulysses Alexander, who attended University High School in Miami. That school, an investigation by The Times found, gave fast and easy grades to talented athletes. Ferguson said that during his senior year at University High his grade-point average went to 2.6 from 2.0 in one month. Auburn defended their admission by saying that both players met N.C.A.A. standards.
Once players arrive at Auburn, they tend to find themselves clustered in the same classes. â€œWhen youâ€™ve got more than five or six athletes in one class, youâ€™re guaranteed to have fun,â€ said Robert Johnson, a tight end who left Auburn in 2003 and now plays for the Washington Redskins. â€œClass is guaranteed to not be as hard as the rest of your classes, especially if youâ€™re winning.â€
Auburn was coming off its 13-0 season in the spring of 2005 when Mr. Heilman met with Professor Petee in the aftermath of Professor Gundlachâ€™s initial accusations. Mr. Heilman refused to offer any details of their conversation. Professor Petee said: â€œI got chastised by the provostâ€™s office for it. He said youâ€™re teaching too many independent study courses to try to accommodate the students. In essence, you know, you really need to stop that practice. And I did.â€
After the confrontation, Professor Peteeâ€™s directed readings dipped to 25 last fall from 152. His full-time-equivalent number dropped to 1.0 from 3.67. Mr. Heilman left Professor Petee in charge of the sociology department, something that stunned many around the university. That left the department divided, and it was what led Professor Gundlach to decide to retire after next year. â€œThings have reached a point where weâ€™re getting ready to produce more James Brooks incidents,â€ Professor Gundlach said. â€œItâ€™s embarrassing.â€
My guess is that Petee is one of those annoyinng professors who thinks his role is to make students happy rather than educate them. I once worked for a department chair that did the almost the same thing for international students, for whom he had a special fondness, ensuring that students who were failing classes left and right (owing to a winning combination of laziness and lack of brainpower) from the other profs in the department got enough A’s and B’s to graduate by virtue of independent study. There wasn’t a blessed thing we could do about it.
The bottom line is that, except in incredibly egregious cases, professors in non-core-curriculum classes have virtual carte blanche at most institutions to teach and grade as they see fit. It’s not surprising that the athletic department would target a few notoriously easy professors for their “student-athletes.”
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While most gave the Braves up for dead after a horrible June, their recent progress is giving fans some hope.
On Sunday, the last day before the All-Star break, Jeff Francoeur wore a T-shirt that proclaimed: “I’m a country music song waiting to happen.” The young right fielder and his Braves teammates don’t want that song to be something like “Out of the Postseason Blues” for the first time in Atlanta since 1990. That’s why the 10-game trip that begins Friday night in San Diego is so important for the Braves, who want to build on momentum they established before the All-Star break.
They were 13 games behind the NL East-leading New York Mets at the break, but only 6 1/2 behind wild-card leader Los Angeles.
“I think we’ve got more of a sense of confidence now than we’ve had all year,” pitcher John Smoltz said Sunday, when Atlanta beat Cincinnati to complete a 7-3 homestand and 10-6 run before the break. “We’re literally a click away from being right in the thick of things.”
That’s pretty remarkable, considering they lost 20 of 23 from May 29 to June 22. They finished that stretch with a 10-game losing streak, three longer than the previous worst in Bobby Cox’s 25-year managerial career. “We need to get a little steadier in everything we need to do, but I think it can be done,” said Cox, who isn’t ready to concede the NL East title, and certainly not a playoff spot. “Nine or 10 games out at the All-Star break, the tendency is to give up. We’re not going to do that.”
Two weeks ago they were coming off a 6-21 record in June, the worst full month by a Braves team in 71 years. Now, Braves players are doing the math to figure out what it might take to win the wild card.
It would require a collapse by the Mets for anyone else to catch them in the NL East. But the wild card’s a different story. The Braves went to the break on a better run than any of the eight teams ahead of them. The team that wins the wild card could be the one that shores up weaknesses before the trade deadline, or gets overwhelming performances from a player or two in the second half. Or both.
The Braves are looking for bullpen help, first and foremost. The team has about $6 million available to add to payroll, some of that left over from the failed pursuit of a closer last winter. But general manager John Schuerholz never spends just because he can. He’s been on the phone for weeks but has yet to make a trade. “We were more active than people might have assumed we would have been or should have been [during the losing stretch], talking to clubs about moves,” Schuerholz said. “It’s not as if we shut it down. But the reality is, where we are in the standings. We’ll see how things go. “We feel good about the way our team played toward the end of the first half. What we’re trying to do is things we can do to win in ’06, get to the playoffs and win in the playoffs. We’re still going to try to do that.”
It’d sure be nice. I’d hate to have mirror end finishes to the Braves’ remarkable division championship streak, pairing a “Worst to First” 1991 season to a “First to Worst” 2006. That, at least, no longer looks likely.
It would be rather ironic, too, after watching the Marlins (twice) and Mets (once) go from Wild Cards in their own division to the World Series to returning that favor. It’s better to be hot late than consistent all year. I’d certainly trade a couple division titles for another World Series Championship during that run.
SWARTZ CREEK, Mich. – A woman placed a 10-cent bet at a Michigan horse track and won $21,584, a track official says. The Michigan woman, whose name was not released, made the bet Friday at Sports Creek Raceway in Swartz Creek, about 55 miles northwest of Detroit.
She placed two 10-cent Superfecta bets on a race being simulcast from the Hollywood Park track in Inglewood, Calif. The Superfecta requires gamblers to pick the four top-finishing horses in correct order.
When I was single, I used to attend the races frequently. Often with my father who owned race horses. I was a $2 a race bettor.(Being a serviceman, I was never flush with cash to bet) That way you lost little or as it goes only won a little. Having grown up following harness horse racing, I knew how to read a race program and handicap a race.
The best I ever came out ahead for one night was about $150. I hit a $2 Quinella(Pick the top two horses in one race, not necessarily in order) for approximately $115.
I’m guessing the woman in the story played a house or phone number, lucky numbers or something like that. A ten cent bet to me marks an amateur. Who knows or cares for she hit the jackpot.
The tournament in Toledo Ohio has been an LPGA fixture since 1984.
Back in 2003, Jamie Farr formerly of the television series MASH, congratulated the winner Se Ri Pak by saying the following.
“Se Ri the members of the club here should pay you, because you own this course!”
Few truer words have been said on the LPGA tour.
How dominating has the Korean Golf Queen been in Toledo?
In 1997 Se Ri got a sponsor’s exemption to the Farr. She wasn’t an exempt player yet, and Se Ri missed the cut.
In 1998 Se Ri shot a 2nd round 61. At the time it was the all-time lowest round in LPGA. She backed it up with a 63 to win the Farr by 9 shots.
Golf trivia time- In 2001 Annika Sorenstam shot a 59 to break Se Ri’s record. What multiple LPGA major champion and Jamie Farr Classic winner played with Se Ri and Annika on both those record breaking days?
I’ll give the answer below.
In 1999 Se Ri set another type of record. She won the Farr in a 6-way playoff over Karrie Webb, Carin Koch, Mardi Lunn, Kelli Keunhe and Sherri Steinhauer. That was and still is the biggest playoff in LPGA history.
In 2000 Se Ri finished 3rd only one shot out of a Annika Sorenstam-Rachel Teske playoff.
In 2001 Se Ri won again. This time by 2 shots
In 2002 She finished tied for 5th or 7th.
In 2003 Se Ri won by 2 shots over fellow countrywoman Hee Won Han and Marisa Baena.
In 2004 Se Ri finished 2nd losing by one lost to Meg Mallon. This was her only top 10 finish in the two year slump Se Ri suffered before winning the 2006 LPGA.
What makes Se Ri play like this in Toledo, no one knows. She is just comfortable and dominating at this yearly tour stop. Only Annika Sorenstam’s track record at the Mizuno Classic shows comprable domination in any LPGA event.
If you were betting on golf, you’d take Se Ri. If a bookmaker gave you more than a dollar for every dollar you bet, he or she would be out of their mind.
Today is the first round of the 2006 Farr, so far Se Ri is -3 for 16 holes. We’ll have to wait and see if Se Ri wins in Toledo for the fifth time.
Trivia answer- Meg Mallon, the 2004 Jamie Farr winner.
BRISTOL, Conn. – Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Wednesday night that he was told he was “seconds, maybe a minute away from dying” immediately after his motorcycle accident last month.
Roethlisberger, in his first interview since the June 12 accident, told ESPN’s “SportsCenter” that he doesn’t remember much about the accident when he rammed his motorcycle into a car that was making a left turn in front of him on a Pittsburgh street. He did, however, remember what he was told by people at the scene.
“They told me that I was literally seconds, maybe a minute away from dying because I slit a vein or artery in my mouth or my throat and it was draining blood right into my stomach and luckily the paramedic noticed it and stopped it or else I would have had too much blood in my stomach,” he said in Los Angeles where he was for the taping of the ESPY Awards.
“I remember very few things about the accident,” Roethlisberger said. “I remember one car turning in front of me, I don’t remember the car that hit me, but I remember that first car turning in front of me and the next thing I remember is being in the ambulance and asking, ‘Is this really happening?’
“I said, ‘Tell me this is just a bad dream,’ and he said, ‘No, everything is going to be OK,’ and he asked me, ‘Is there anyone you want me to call?’ … I just gave him two numbers and I don’t remember anything until I woke up from surgery.”
Roethlisberger underwent seven hours of surgery to repair a broken jaw and other facial bones. Tests showed no brain injuries, although he had a mild concussion. He also lost two teeth and chipped several others.
I had a close call in August 2005 after getting a pulmonary embolism. Too bad Ben or I didn’t have a near death experience. We could have answered the following question.
Is God George Burns or Lou Gehrig?
I see via YahooNews that Cyril Dessel has taken the Tour de France lead:
Unheralded French rider Cyril Dessel took the Tour de France leader’s yellow jersey Wednesday on the first high altitude stage, and American Floyd Landis fell from second to fifth overall. Juan Miguel Mercado of Spain won the stage, beating Dessel in a sprint to the line at Pau. The previous yellow jersey holder, Serhiy Honchar of Ukraine, was still riding far behind with the main pack of racers when Mercado and Dessel finished.
Honestly, I had no clue the Tour had even started. For me, this has quite literally been the “Tour de Lance” for years. Without Lance Armstrong in the competition, it might as well not exist so far as I’m concerned.
KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. – Barbaro’s condition was “potentially serious” Wednesday, and the Kentucky Derby winner’s veterinarian said the colt was “facing tough odds” in an effort to recover from catastrophic injuries.
Dean Richardson, the chief surgeon at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center, said doctors were looking at all possible treatments to keep Barbaro comfortable several days after the 3-year-old colt had his cast changed for the fourth time in a week.
“Our entire staff is determined to do all they can for this magnificent horse,” Richardson said in a statement issued by the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals.
Barbaro, who shattered three bones in his right hind leg at the start of the Preakness Stakes on May 20, has undergone three surgical procedures in the past week. In the most recent one Saturday, Richardson replaced the titanium plate and 27 screws and also treated several infections â€” one in the injured leg and a small abscess on the sole of his uninjured left hind hoof.
Barbaro’s recovery had been going smoothly until this recent series of setbacks. Saturday’s surgery lasted three hours, and Richardson replaced the hardware that had been inserted into the leg May 21, the day after the Preakness.
A major concern centers on the infection in the right rear pastern joint â€” located above the hoof that was shattered into more than 20 pieces. While most of the fractured bones have healed, the joint that connects the long and short pastern bones remains problematic.
“There’s so much concern. It’s significant,” Richardson said in The Washington Post on Wednesday. “Two weeks ago, we were at 50-50 (for survival). With this new problem, we are less than that.”
All decisions are being made after consulting with owners Gretchen and Roy Jackson, the statement said.
That goes without saying. For if not for Barbaro’s potential as a stud, he would have been destroyed almost immediately after the Preakness.
From what I know of race horse injuries, I don’t think Barbaro will make it.
Bernardini Wins Preakness; Barbaro Hurt
The Times of London has hired a lip reader to devine what insult was hurled at French soccer legend ZinÃ©dine Zidane that made him go postal during the World Cup final, dooming his team’s chances of winning the most prestigious trophy in all of sports.
WITH his monkish mien backed by a sense of brooding menace, ZinÃ©dine Zidane has always been something of an enigma, so it is perhaps fitting that the final act of his career should be the source of such mystery. Just why did a man blessed with complete control of a football lose his head in such a violent manner at such a crucial moment, boring it into the chest of Marco Materazzi?
As Lâ€™Equipe summed up the moment of madness with a headline of â€œRegrets Ã‰ternelsâ€, a day of endless questioning began. With many conflicting versions of events circling on the internet and in the worldâ€™s media, The Times enlisted the help of an expert lip reader, Jessica Rees, to determine the precise nature of the dialogue that caused Zidane to react in such a manner.
After an exhaustive study of the match video, and with the help of an Italian translator, Rees claimed that Materazzi called Zidane â€œthe son of a terrorist whoreâ€ before adding â€œso just f*** offâ€ for good measure, supporting the natural assumption that the Frenchman must have been grievously insulted. As the son of two Algerian immigrants, the 34-year-old is proud of his North African roots, dedicating Franceâ€™s 1998 World Cup win to â€œall Algerians who are proud of their flag and all those who have made sacrifices for their family but who have never abandoned their own cultureâ€, so such a slur would certainly explain, if not justify, his violent response.
When asked about the allegations on his return to Rome, Materazzi issued a vehement denial, while sources close to the player emphasised that he had not been accused of racism before, pointing to his close friendship with Obafemi Martins, the Nigeria and Inter Milan striker. â€œIt is absolutely not true,â€ Materazzi said. â€œI did not call him a terrorist. Iâ€™m ignorant. I donâ€™t even know what the word means. The whole world saw what happened on live TV.â€
As legendary former Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson noted on his radio program yesterday evening, there’s simply no excuse for Zidane’s actions because no one gets to be a star athlete without his teammates making big sacrifices. Essentially, the others feed him the ball, passing up their own shots, for the good of the team trusting that the star will come through. Zidane’s selfishness would be inexcusable even if his opponent said what the lip reader claims he said.