Marshall: Crazy World Not Limited To Sports

Columnist Phillip Marshall takes a look at the news stories dominating the scene at the moment and compares them to the sports world at Auburn.

It's a strange country in which we live. American troops and innocent Iraqis are dying by the thousands in a conflict that seems to have no end in sight.

Nuclear weapons threaten to spread like kudzu among countries that might have no qualms about using them.

Children are starving in our own cities.

And our attention, as a country, is on the fight over Anna Nicole Smith's baby. Or on Brittany Spears shaving her head and getting tattoos on her wrist. Or on a former NBA player coming out of the closet.

It's difficult to turn on a cable news channel without being treated to stories about one or the other. The reason? Those are the stories that get ratings, and ratings are what make money.

Every time I am treated to interviews with the scumbags who are fighting over Smith's baby and the millions that might come with her, I feel like I need to take a bath.

For the better part of a week, ESPN's television news and radio talk has been dominated by the sexual preference of former NBA player John Amaechi. Why is ESPN so fascinated with the story? Because it published the book in which he came out of the closet.

ESPN has made it clear to all since it moved under the umbrella of ABC that it is no longer an organization attempting to practice serious journalism. The "news" it emphasizes is going to be what serves its corporate interest. In football, that means fawning over teams from conferences that have contracts with ABC. In this case, it means selling books.

Maybe it's a sign that I'm getting old, but before the stories broke about the tragic death of her son, I couldn't have told you who Anna Nicole Smith was and I wouldn't have known her if I had run into her on the street.

I don't care if Britney Spears shaves her head, don't care if she gets tattoos. It's sad that she apparently has demons in her personal life. But she has $100 million to deal with those demons.

I don't care who John Amaechi sleeps with. That Tim Hardaway publicly stated "I hate gay people" only tells me it's a good thing he can play basketball, because he doesn't have enough common sense to do much anything else.

All these people live in a world with which I am not familiar, but I've seen enough that I know I'd rather live in my world and have my pittance than live in their world and have their millions.

I think I'll choose to focus on more mundane issues close to home. More than I'm wondering about why Britney cut her hair, I'm wondering …

* Who kidnapped Quan Prowell? The guy playing now looks and talks like Quan Prowell, but he isn't the same player who seemed to be blossoming about the time Auburn's basketball team moved to the top of the SEC West.

Prowell was Auburn's most consistent player early in SEC play but has since disappeared in Auburn's four-game losing streak.

* Will anyone in any sport in our state ever match what David Marsh has done as Auburn's swimming coach? Ten national championships is a remarkable accomplishment in any sport.

* Can Nick Saban live up to the immense and, in my time, unprecedented expectations that have followed him to Alabama? Could anyone?

* Will Tommy Tuberville ever get the credit he deserves for responding to the dark days of "jetgate" by winning more games over the next three seasons that any coach in Auburn history?

* Can Auburn continue that level of success next season with a team that will be more talented but far less experienced?

* Why is it so hard to build a consistent winner in basketball at Auburn?

* Has Auburn's baseball program turned the corner after three seasons of struggling?

The answers to those questions won't have a lot of impact on the world. Compared to wars and famine and starvation, they don't really even matter.

But they matter to me a lot more than Britney's hair.

Until next time …

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