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December 20, 2002

by Bill Hogan


It's that time of the year again. Time to get that Christmas wish list together and print out a couple of dozen copies for distribution to family, friends and co-workers (and c.c. Santa, of course).

For sportswriters from coast to coast it's an opportunity to express to the hometown fans their deepest desires. "All I want for Christmas is a new head coach". And "I want my team's owner to shoot the lock off his wallet and sign the latest, greatest free agent".


Thousands of words are being artfully assembled in our nation's sports pages requesting that Santa intervene on behalf of their favorite team. "Two wins, coupled with seven teams losing and two ties, and we're in the playoffs! C'mon, Santa, work your magic."

I think these sportswriters – the sports media in general – need to widen their scope just a bit. It's ok that my four-year-old goes to bed each night praying that Santa received and understood his singular request for a Spiderman costume – complete with mask and web-spraying gloves. He's four. That's his world right now. My eldest son – who knows better - has taken the (logical) approach of sucking up to his mother for the top of the line snowboard he hopes to find under the tree.

But grown men wishing for new coaches, free agent signings and playoff births? Please – you're team sucked for fourteen games, don't look to Santa and some Christmas miracle to get them into the playoffs.

At the risk of sounding like I'm getting off the subject, I'd like to report to you that the University of Cincinnati men's basketball team upset fifth-ranked Oregon this past Tuesday. Blew them out, actually, 77-52 in the second game of a double-header played in the New Jersey Meadowlands. The opener saw Gonzaga beat North Carolina State 69-60.

I know this doesn't sound like a big deal – and in fact, it isn't. The college basketball season is too long to really care about a December upset.

The real news is that these four teams squared off in the eighth annual Jimmy V Classic – named after former N.C. State head coach Jim Valvano. The charity event is organized by The V Foundation and raises desperately needed revenue for cancer research.

I think the sports media – newspapers, television, radio and internet – could have done a much better job publicizing the event. It's that important. I'll bet there isn't a single person reading this column that doesn't know someone battling cancer. And far too many that knew someone who lost that battle. There is no greater cause than raising money to find a cure.

Jim Valvano started The V Foundation shortly before he died of cancer in 1993. He vowed that even if it were too late to save his own life, he would do whatever it took to beat the deadly disease. In the nearly ten years that have passed, his foundation has raised over 24 million dollars for cancer research. Obviously, that's not enough.

I wish more sportswriters would have taken it upon themselves to make their reading public aware of last Tuesday's fund raiser.

Popular internet sports sites derive a lot of their revenue from those annoying ads that pop up in my browser every time I click my mouse. Well, I don't need a new razor, I don't want to sign up for another newsletter and I have no interest in participating in some irrelevant survey. But it would have been helpful if a friendly reminder that the Jimmy V Classic aired on ESPN Tuesday December 17 popped up last week.

The ubiquitous sports television and radio shows could have taken a couple of seconds of air time to encourage their nation wide audiences to tune in. Don't these guys realize that at least one member of their Sunday morning foursome will likely face some kind of cancer in their lifetime?

It's that time of year again. Time to get that Christmas wish list together. It just seems a little short sighted to waste Santa's time or a Christmas miracle wishing for a reliable left-handed relief pitcher to shore up the bullpen.

There are many great charities dedicated to helping the sick and the poor – they all need as much help as we can give. If you're interested in learning more about The V Foundation, go to www.jimmyv.org.

Happy Holidays, sportsfans. And if anyone knows where I can find a size 4 Spiderman costume at this late date, please let me know.


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