Let's start fresh for 2013

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As far as I am concerned, 2012 is a year that is good for only one thing. It taught us a lot of lessons.  Some were good, but unfortunately most were bad.

To me, Sports more often than not exhibited its ugly side. Imagine, head hunting to hurt other players by putting a bounty on their heads. It was the opposite of what sports were supposed to be about. Apparently, the word "Sportsmanship" was left out of many of our athlete's formal training.

More often of not, the mentality began in the home, where parents taught the philosophy of "win at all costs". This was exemplified to youngsters everywhere sadly to say by many of their heroes.

These lucky men and women, blessed with native ability, forgot where they came from and their origins.  They forgot how they too once  idolized their heroes when they were growing up.

Instead, they no longer had time to pause and sign autographs and smell the roses. Instead, in droves, they are motivated by money.

Now don't get me wrong! I have nothing against money without which it is hard to exist. However, in this coming year, I hope to see more successful athletes giving back to their communities.

After all, without the fan, the lucre they seek will no longer be available. Look at the NHL. Both sides have taken positions of greed.  They are so entrenched that there might not be a season at all.  That would be a shame!

Hockey has been fighting hard for its place in the Sports Calendar.  It ranks a distant fourth behind Football, Basketball and Baseball. It is the one major league that cannot really afford a work stoppage. They are losing fans and might never get them back.

I hope in 2013, the NFL, neurologists, and medical personnel will figure out how to cope with concussions.  Concussions today are rampant. It is a proven fact that all types of injuries have resulted from head-to-head hits. Penalties have been put in place, but it is obvious that is not enough.

Many learned medical men, neurosurgeons and neurologists alike , have pointed out that perhaps the high tech equipment of today such as the sturdy plastic helmets may be doing more harm than good. My father was a football player in the 30's and somewhere my grandson Sam has his old leather helmet. Sure there were bumps and bruises, but concussions, I am told, were rare.

Ali stayed on the ropes in Zaire and for 8 rounds challenged George Foreman to pound on his gloves placed at the side of his head for  24 straight uninterrupted minutes. His face was never marred, but 8000 constant pounds of torque took its toll.

Dr. Ferdie Pacheco walked away from Ali as his doctor with the admonition that Ali should not take that tack. After all, the brain is a sack that floats in the cranium and when it is bounced about it has nowhere to go but up against the bony skull. So many, modern athletes have suffered irreparable damage because of the philosophy make money at all costs. The macho philosophy of never admitting hurt.

Then there is the human drama and tragedy enacted out in Stadium parking lots and around arenas.  Helpless fans have been beaten senseless because they were wearing the wrong team colors.

I grew up in a calmer, saner time. No one reached for a gun; pushing and shoving were the norm.  We did not seek weapons to settle a fight, or an argument. Sure we were passionate, but arguments and debate helped to solve many a problem, not death and destruction.

Have you ever seen some of the Video games sold to today's youngsters? The most popular are embedded in violence.  Their portrayal often send the wrong message indicating life is cheap.  Sure, we played "Cowboys and Indians", but it was harmless aggression.

Today, starting with the playing field, moving on to the video games with the laissez-faire  attitude of many parents, the result has often been disastrous loss of life ... many times in areas that we felt were our, heretofore, safe havens.

My 2013 wish for us is simple.  Let's start again! Let's consider our fellow man and instead of teaching one-ups man ship , we should  go back to basics and once again teach teamwork.  Teamwork in sports will reflect in life and we shall all be the better for it.

To paraphrase Tiny Tim as 2013 approaches... "God Bless Us, Everyone!"

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Sports Scrapbook
Shelly Saltman has been in the sports world as an executive, TV producer, broadcaster and event creator for more than 50 years. Among his credentials are his work with Muhammad Ali and Evel Knievel, the numerous network TV shows he produced and created, NBA/NHL management roles, co-creator of the Amgen Tour of California and as the first president of Fox Sports. He lives in Ventura County.