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Archive for Friday, March 13, 1998

OVERPAID JUVENILES

March 13, 1998

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The U.S. Olympic hockey players who trashed their quarters in Nagano are all too typical of the spoiled brats in modern sports.

Seldom has the ``spoiled brat'' image been pasted on a group of highly paid professional athletes more firmly than in the case of the American hockey players who trashed their living quarters during the recent Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

The National Hockey League, which assembled the Olympic team, says it has been unable to pinpoint who was responsible for the estimated $3,000 in damage in three rooms at the Olympic Village. Ten chairs were broken and walls were damaged by fire extinguishers in the early morning hours of Feb. 18 after the Czech Republic eliminated the heavily favored U.S. team from medal contention. The Americans had a 1-3 record that was both disappointing and humiliating for a group expected to do much better. There is evidence that the arrogance and late night partying by the U.S. players was a big factor in their flop.

Officials say they are sure only two or three American athletes were involved in the melee. They keep asking that the guilty parties speak up and apologize, as well as make financial restitution. So far nobody has confessed. How childish can supposedly adult individuals be?

First, the vandals -- all of whom make big money as ``professionals'' -- reacted like children in their disappointment about their failure. Second, not all the members of the team were involved but still are tainted by the behavior of a few.

The upshot is that U.S. Olympic officials are thinking about barring all members of the men's hockey team from future Olympic Games until somebody stands up and faces the music. That further punishes 1998 team members who had no hand in the trashing and who might want to try to make a future team. But it also hampers future stars who would like to have an Olympic experience.

All because a few pampered hooligans in a tantrum stage went on a rampage and do not have the maturity and character to admit it. And the longer they wait to speak out, the worse they look.

Little wonder that people are increasingly intolerant and less supportive of modern-day sports figures, particularly the overpaid professionals who seem bent on getting away with anything they want to do, especially if it's unlawful.

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