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What a Jip.
January 2, 2004

by Bill Hogan



Sounds like a great headline for a story about how college football's Bowl Championship Series put the screws to the University of Southern California. USC, ranked number one in both media polls, was not invited to the BCS Championship game.

Instead, they had to settle for a Rose Bowl victory over Michigan and the Associated Press National Championship. The BCS debate will continue, but I'm not going to beat a dead (Trojan) horse.


What's really a jip is that the AP writers voted the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case as the number one sports story of 2003. The whole Kobe affair is a big news story, it's a big crime story, but what it is not is a big sports story. In the way that the Michael Jackson child molestation case is not the number one music story of the year just because he can moon walk across a concert stage.

All the great sports stories of 2003 have to take a back seat to a Colorado criminal proceeding simply because the accused happens to be a basketball star. Kobe's legal woes should be televised on CNN, not ESPN.

There were a number of great sports stories in 2003, any one of which could be considered tops for the year. I can think of a half-dozen noteworthy athletic feats and foibles that would qualify - none of which involve the Eagle County prosecutor.

In 2003, Lance Armstrong became only the second cyclist in the 100 year history of the Tour de France to win five consecutive titles. In July, he'll be going for the unprecedented six-peat – probably around the same time the Kobe trial starts.

Annika Sorenstam became the first female golfer to participate in a PGA Tour event since Babe Didrikson teed it up at the 1945 Los Angeles Open. The world's best female golfer took on the big boys at the Bank of America Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas.

Though she missed the cut, this was big news in the sports world last May. For her accomplishments on the women's tour and the courage she displayed taking on the men, Annika was recently named the AP Female Athlete of the Year.

Last fall, the whole country was salivating at the prospect of the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox meeting in the World Series. What a story! Both teams plagued by a history of colossal postseason collapses; both teams on the verge of winning the pennant.

It would be the "Curse of the Billy Goat" verses the "Curse of the Bambino" for all the marbles. Until bad luck reared its ugly head in the form of Cubs fan Steve Bartman and ended Chicago's shot at redemption. The Sox met a similar fate against a familiar foe from the Bronx.

Then, of course, there is the story of the surprise Florida Marlins, their miraculous comeback against the Cubs and subsequent dismantling of the mighty (expensive) New York Yankees.

Funny Cide almost became the first Triple Crown winner since 1978. There was that little spat between Martha Burk and Augusta National Golf Club. And I haven't even mentioned LeBron James, Tiger Woods or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But, hey, let's put all of these great sports stories on the back burner and talk a little more about Kobe's arraignment. Let's analyze the prosecution's evidence and the state of mind of the alleged victim one more time. And let's do it all on SportsCenter.

You don't have to pass the bar exam to understand that sexual assault is a serious matter. Throw a basketball superstar into the mix and it is sure to generate a lot of interest. It's the kind of story that CourtTV should be covering around the clock.

FOX News and CNN should have reporters stationed in Eagle County to keep us up to speed on all the latest developments. What's ESPN going to do, send the College Game Day crew up there now that the football season is over?

As important as this story may be, it's just not a sports story. The folks at E! aren't going to cover the Robert Blake murder trial because the defendant used to play a cop on television.

The number one sports story of 2003? I mentioned a few possibilities; you can probably come up with a couple of your own; and I bet they won't have anything to do with a criminal investigation.


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