Archive for Thursday, June 8, 2006

The Fly Route

June 8, 2006

Ah, so that's the difference.

I watched, marveled and wondered as the Eudora girls track team dominated its way to a second-place finish in the Class 4A state track meet.

Then, only five days later, I saw many of the same competitors who might as well have camped out at the top of the medal stands at the track meet working hard at the crack of dawn at the Eudora summer cross country camp.

That's awfully impressive to me. Who among us wouldn't ask for, or demand, a few days off after dusting the competition the way those runners did? Heck, why bother asking? It was the first week of summer vacation. Asking for a day off would by no means seem necessary.

The camp workout didn't seem overly hard for any of the veterans -- a lot of it looked down right fun -- but make no mistake: many of these same girls that dominated at state track are going to dominate again at state cross country. They'll be asked how they do it, and on that cold October morning, they should point to one of these warm ones in June.

  • There's 59 days until the first day of August and 73 until the first day of fall high school sports practices -- only 90 days until the first Friday night football game.

Not that I'm counting.

This guarantees to be an interesting summer, but my life is a lot more hectic, my time a lot less free and my newspaper a lot less empty when high school sports are rolling. I'm sure I'll enjoy this summer as much as I possibly can, but ... 90 days, 2,160 hours, 129,600 minutes remain, assuming you grabbed this paper at 12:01 a.m. Thursday morning and turned directly to my column.

  • I will say this about high school sports -- it may be the highest level of competition I can safely assume to be steroid free, and maybe I'm dumb to trust that 100 percent.

The steroid issue has been the media's piñata for the last two or three years now, so there are few witty remarks or worthwhile points that remain unsaid -- so let me try.

I don't think I can any longer trust any professional athlete, and I have my doubts about a lot of college athletes, too.

That doesn't mean I think St. Louis Cardinal slugger Albert Pujols is using or that I think track superstar Justin Gatlin is dirty. It just means I cannot look at either of them without the thought at least crossing my mind.

Former Kansas City Royal Jason Grimsley told federal investigators he was juicing, according to, and supposedly he gave up a long list of others he either knew or suspected were using as well.

I have no idea what kind of person Grimsley is away from the game, but he never was a dominant player in the game. If the middle-of-the-pack guys are dirty, how can we assume any of the top guys are clean? For that matter, how can we assume any of the bottom guys are clean?

If steroids helped Grimsley beat out some kid in the minors years ago when he was first breaking into the league, why on earth would we not assume the kid he beat was using, too?

I don't care how many times these guys fill a cup, how many tests come back negative or how emphatically they deny rumors and the kind of innuendo I'm laying down right here. For every dollar Major League Baseball or any other organization spends to plug one hole, I think there is an athlete willing to spend 10 to open another.

I hope some day there's a magical way to tell who's cheating and who isn't, but I think soon sports fans will have to come to grips with the idea that there's simply too much incentive and too many ways to skirt the rules.

As fans, we've all been naÃive to this point. We've come to terms with the idea that Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire and Rafael Palmeiro might have used, but I doubt any of those sluggers made Grimsley's list.

I think steroids are in sports for the long haul and I doubt it will be long before we realize a whole, whole lot of athletes have used.

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