Saturday, August 25, 2007

What About Tim?

OK, pretend you’re on jeopardy and just for kicks, Trebek and his peeps have decided to add a round entitled “current issues in sports.” Now, say you get the following question: which famous man in sports was quoted as saying, this is the "most serious situation and worst situation that I have ever experienced?" Come on, now – it wasn’t THAT long ago, and yet it seems everyone has either forgotten the issue or put it on the backburner. Just because one scandal has opened (yes, I’m referring to Michael Vick here) doesn’t mean another is closed. For the record, the answer is basketball league commissioner, David Stern when asked about the Tim Donaghy betting scandal. He has also termed Donaghy as a "rogue, isolated criminal." But all you folks following Michael Vick’s saga of doom have forgotten that, haven’t you? In fact, it seems a whole slew of people have forgotten the issue – it took me about 20 minutes to sift through the sports news this morning to dig up anything regarding the skullduggery which took place a little over a month ago – even the NBA’s official website has nothing about it on their homepage.

In case you’re wondering, the Associated Press has provided its loyal readers with the following information: On Wednesday, August 15th, Donaghy pleaded guilty to felony charges and now faces a maximum of 25 years in prison. He will be sentenced Nov. 9 for “conspiracy to engage in wire fraud and transmitting wagering information through interstate commerce.” He was released on $250,000 bond and must seek permission to travel anywhere other than Pennsylvania, Florida or New York.

But what happened exactly? There has been a lot of speculation, but it seems only a few people care about the facts because they were – shall we say, sidetracked? Apparently, while speaking in code during telephone calls, Donaghy provided recommendations to co-conspirators about what team they should bet on, said U.S. District Judge Carol Bagley Amon. The price tag, if correct, was $5,000. The picks included information about games that Donaghy officiated - information that was not public (including what crews would be officiating games, the interaction of different officials and players, and the physical condition of certain players). Donaghy was fined $500,000 and must pay at least $30,000 in restitution to the government. So much for getting away with a slap on the wrist. Of course, indications are Donaghy will receive a severance package as well as his pension plan which provides for up to $78,000 annually. It has also been stated that Tim “deeply regrets his involvement in this matter and especially the pain it has caused his family, friends and co-workers." He is supposedly seeking psychiatric help.

As of August 23rd, the Philadelphia Daily News reports Donaghy is scheduled to spill the names of other referees who were in on the ploy with gamblers – thereby making himself possibly the most hated man in basketball (notice how I narrowed down the field so we didn’t pit Michael and Tim against each other?). Apparently, by spilling the beans, his own sentence might be lightened (everyone loves a nark). The league says it has received no evidence that any referees other than Donaghy bet on games.

Sometimes I wonder – and maybe I’m just babbling here – Vick’s actions were taken off the football field. His sick, twisted web of crime was spinning in his own backyard. Donaghy, on the other hand, betrayed everyone right under their noses – players, referees, David Stern, and most importantly, ME – us, the fans. I for one will be paying closer attention to calls from now on, and I’ll be especially suspicious of foul-happy refs. We’ll all be doing it, maybe not consciously, but the magnificent sport of basketball does have one more scuff mark on the court (if you know what I mean).

I know the world of sports is fast paced, with the media and fans jumping from scandal to scandal like frogs hopping from one lily pad to another, but still – this guy has been accused of BETTING ON THE GAMES HE OFFICIATED! Are we just going to move on to the next discrepancy and forget the lessons we learned from the first?

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