World of Sports Never Ceases to SurpriseColumn by Michael K. Chung
The world of sports has provided many surprises lately. No one is unaware of the attack on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan; no one is ignorant of Michael Jordan's retirement from basketball; no one has not heard of the Buffalo Bills' record-setting losing streak at the Super Bowl. From tragic to comic, the past year of sports has provided considerable moments that leave me to wonder, "What will happen next?"
The Bills ... the Bills ... the poor Bills. Since high school I have been good friends with a former Buffalo native. His exuberance for the Bills rubbed off onto me over the years, partly because of my lack of loyalty for a favorite football team. In 1993, after seeing the Bills fail the final test twice, I wanted them to win. After the particularly humbling rout by the Cowboys last year, I wondered whom I should feel more sorry for: the Bills or the University of Michigan Wolverines basketball team, who lost in the finals of the NCAA championships again that year.
Nevertheless, I felt a loyalty to the Bills throughout the playoffs this year. I was glad to see them win their conference again. I was glad to see them in the Super Bowl again. I was glad (and a little surprised, frankly) to see them ahead at halftime. You know the rest of the story.
I don't know what I would like to see the Bills do next year. Part of me would like to see them take off a year or three. Part of me would like to see them make the Superbowl again ... and lose (and while I'm being cruel and unsupportive, lose a few more times). Of course, the rest of me wants to see them regroup, regain camaraderie, and win the championships.
Without question, it will be a tough year for the Bills -- in practices, games, press conferences, and in their private lives. It would be a shame for them to throw in the towel during the next year -- I hope that they will be able to stick together and make a solid performance next year.
Will Michael Jordan achieve his dream of playing baseball for the Chicago White Sox? The Jan. 17 issue of Sports Illustrated provided a spectacular display of Jordan excelling at other sports as well -- downhill skiing, hockey, soccer, and football. If nothing else, these photos could make great props for telling future generations about the legendary six-sport king. I bet he'd make a decent boxer and oarsman, too.
And with Michael Jordan pursuing other careers, Shaquille O'Neal is making the Hollywood runaround. Rapping on CDs, starring in movies, and shooting hoops, one wonders what he'll do next ... perhaps coach at a prestigous school like MIT? Maybe he'll mix an album and go on tour with tennis greats Mats Wilander (who had a pretty impressive Australian Open several weeks ago, losing to MaliVai Washington in five sets in the fourth round), John McEnroe, and Jim Courier.
Whether baseballs bounce off outfielder's heads for home runs (Jose Canseco, for one), or downhill skiers have fatal accidents (Austrian world champion skier Ulrike Maier), this year in sports will certainly contain many surprises. With any luck, these surprises will not involve freak accidents, conspiracies, or otherwise devastating moments, but instead remind us of the thrill and excitement of the sport itself.