Frank Deford

The spectacular global terrorism that's been so prominent lately can best be dated from 1972, when 11 Israeli Olympians were murdered at the Munich Games. That seminal atrocity has taken on even more horror, too, now that we've learned that some of the victims suffered mutilation and torture before they died.

We may take some solace, though, that, after 43 years, the construction of a monument to the Israelis has finally begun and will be unveiled next October. Pointedly and poignantly, it stands barely more than a hundred yards from where the Israelis were first taken hostage.

Sports gets bigger all the time, everywhere. But even with a superabundance of sport, that's not enough to satisfy our appetites, and so now we have to have make-believe sport, too. Who would've ever thought we would bet real money on our sports fantasies?

Maybe H.L. Mencken was right when he said: "I hate all sports as rabidly as a person who likes sports hates common sense." And Mencken didn't even know about Ultimate Fighting or the halfpipe of snowboarding.

When the Royals won the World Series, I, like most everyone else, was so happy for the good people of Kansas City, because I kept being reminded that the Royals hadn't won since 1985. Poor, poor little KC. Then it occurred to me: so what? That's exactly how long it should be, because there are 30 major league franchises, so for any team to win once every 30 years is just par for the course.

It's accepted that the president of the University of Missouri stepped down in a racial dispute only when the football team threatened not to play a game. The players showed us again — surprise, surprise — how powerful is football, and let's throw in basketball, too, throughout our bastions of higher education.

U.S. leagues love playing games abroad. At first it was more just to show off our indigenous sports and hope the simpleminded foreigners would see what they were missing and start playing the red, white and blue games themselves.

The defending champion New England Patriots are undefeated, on that rare road to repeat, but, of course, except for the denizens of the northeast corner of our nation, the Pats are mostly unloved. It's not the sort of antipathy directed toward the Yankees. That's always been the anti-plutocrat sensation. Rather, there is about the Patriots the sense that they're rather untrustworthy, if not downright nasty — not America's Team, but more America's Gang.

Or, perhaps more accurately, the Belichick Gang.

I have an idea to help the Republicans solve their presidential nominating dilemma: Let's have a fantasy primary campaign. The Fox network can run it, and the voters will choose which candidates they think will win the various primaries.

After all, fantasy is in, fantasy is fantastic. In sports, fantasy is giving reality a run for its money. Why should sports have all the fun?

One of the great misunderstandings about college sports, which the big-time schools love to slyly imply, is that other sports on campus must be forever grateful that football and basketball pay for their right to exist.

Moreover, there is the concomitant threat that if ever colleges had to actually pay salaries to their football and basketball players, well, then, the athletic departments would be forced to drop those other "beggar sports" that don't bring in revenue.

This is, of course, utter nonsense.

Pitching a baseball overhand — which has always been a rather contorted, unnatural action — is now leading to an epidemic of injuries. Incredibly, it is estimated that one-fourth of all major league pitchers have had what's called Tommy John surgery, which involves the elbow's ulnar collateral ligament.

It was 75 years ago this week — Oct. 5, 1940 — when the movie Knute Rockne, All-American was released and first we heard, "Rock, some day when the team's up against it, breaks are beating the boys, ask them to go in there with all they've got, win just one for the Gipper."

It isn't just because a future president of the United States was the actor who uttered it, that this became the single most famous line ever spoken in a sports movie. No, it was because of who the Gipper was playing for: Notre Dame.

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