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Inequality created by transgender swimmer Lia Thomas the antithesis of fair play




Inequality created by transgender swimmer Lia Thomas the antithesis of fair play

As I watched the MiraLAX Irritable Bowel Bowl on ESPN, it struck me that The Age of Reason is long gone. We’re now stuck in The Age of No Good Reason. 

This column has assiduously avoided presidential politics and policies unless they intersect with sports. 

Thus, when President Donald Trump boasted that he personally reached down and with a mighty hand rescued Big Ten football from the death grips of COVID-19, last season, I wrote that such a claim was malarkey. TV money, and only TV money, salvaged the season, regardless of its COVID-altered state. 

During his presidential campaign, Joe Biden issued this vow: “I promise you, there is no reason to suggest that there should be any right denied your [transgender] daughter. … None. Zero.” 

Upon his inauguration, he reaffirmed his inflexible position on biological males competing in women’s sports: 

“Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room or school sports.” 

But what about common sense, the kind predicated on fair play? As former males have destroyed the field in women’s athletic events, if you don’t both see and celebrate the “equity” in that inequity, run for your life: You will be condemned as a bigot, as transphobic. 

Of course, that’s an absurd conflation of realities that only the blindly wishful would blend in order to castigate. To explain those who prefer fair play over a stacked deck as mentally disturbed — phobic — has nothing to do with any phobia, unless fair-play advocates are in profound need of psychotherapy if not lobotomies. 

I’m left to lean on the visceral, the first-person “what-if.” 

If a beloved young woman in Biden’s life who had trained to reach the top of her sport at her level — a high school runner or tennis player, a college swimmer or basketball player — were to be denied her sporting chance to further succeed by former males in competition against her, Biden would be what? 

Pleased? Proud to have so fully supported those who deny the deserving what they so tirelessly trained to achieve? Would he find male-to-female champions as worthy of admirable achievement on behalf of equality when the achievement was predicated on preposterous inequality? 

The latest case of gone-too-far has been witnessed by the record-smashing performances of University of Pennsylvania female swimmer Lia Thomas, a former also-swam on Penn’s male team as Will Thomas. 

Lia Thomas
Lia Thomas
Penn Athletics

Even some of Thomas’s female teammates have been unable to perform the politically correct charade, making their disapproval known. Thomas’s successes as a female swimmer don’t come close to the minimal standards of passing the stink test. They reek of race-fixing — the antithesis of fair play. 

Still, unless they abjectly apologize for their inability to abandon common sense, these logical naysayers risk being tossed into that vat of intolerant evil “haters,” then boiled as transphobic. 

Reader Tony Delli Santi, has an idea. It’s borrowed from the Mel Feldman Method, the high school basketball coach who flipped the script on coaches who were eager to mercilessly stomp his girls by having them score for the winners to emphasize their unsportsmanlike avarice: 

“The Tony D. Method: The women swimmers go to the starting line [starting blocks or positions]. When the gun goes off, nobody moves. Let him-to-her compete alone. That would create even more attention, create a bigger embarrassment.” 

Lia Thomas has shattered women's NCAA swimming records.
Lia Thomas has shattered women’s NCAA swimming records.
UPenn Swim/Instagram

Not bad. Of course, after such inactive activism to promote or sustain fair play, the conspirators could face even presidential censure. But such are the risks in a world gone nuts. 

Selfish Mike Leach blasts ‘selfish’ players

The Quote of the Bowl Season belongs to Mississippi State coach Mike Leach. On the trend of star players declining to play in bowl games to protect their safety, thus their draft status and NFL signing money: 

“You’ve got an obligation to the place that helped build and develop you and finish it out in the bowl. … You owe it to your team, you owe it to your fans, you owe it to your coaches, and it’s the most bizarre thing in the world to me. 

“Somebody says, ‘Well, I can’t play one more game.’ They think they’re going to have a storied 10-year NFL career, and then they can’t play one more college game. Well, that’s ridiculous. … It’s selfish, too.” 

Admirable sentiments, to be sure, except perversely comical coming from Leach. 

Mike Leach
Mike Leach

Before arriving at Mississippi State for big dough — a reported base of $5 million per — Leach left as head coach at Texas Tech and Washington State — also coaching for big dough — under dark clouds, including accusations of mistreating an injured player. 

At Washington State, his teams accounted for 29 arrests — the most in the nation during his time. 

And now he lectures on loyalty, selfish decisions based on money, and choosing right over wrong. And those players who bolt before their bowl games may have been inspired by those coaches who have done the same, only for longer. It’s all a con. 

Small surprise that NBC studio regular Rodney Harrison interviewed Snoop Dogg as part of NBC’s Sunday night Saints-Buccaneers package. 

NBC has this season’s Super Bowl, and pandering phony Roger Goodell and his Minister of Social Rectitude, Jay-Z, have invited Snoop to be the latest to bind the NFL to halftime acts that betray both common decency and NFL conduct policy. 

Harrison must’ve run out of time before he could ask Dogg some pertinent questions, such as Dogg’s career-long references to men as “n—as” (despite the NFL’s conspicuous on-field pleas to “End Racism”), his vulgar sexual objectifications of women, homophobic rants, countless arrests (mostly for drugs and weapon possession) and his side career as a pornographer. 

Or perhaps Harrison wasn’t inclined to bring up any of that under the pretense that if Dogg is plenty good enough for Goodell, he’s plenty good enough for all of us. 

Woods rules coverage

Imagine, there are still some golf fans who were surprised over the weekend that NBC pretended that no other duo competed in the father-son event than Tiger Woods and Son. 

Some golf fans even seemed upset that host Dan Hicks would drool so much syrupy baloney about Woods that our TV screens would need a squeegee man. 

Tiger Woods and his son Charlie at the PNC Championship.
Tiger Woods and his son Charlie at the PNC Championship.
Getty Images

But TV, despite piles of growing evidence to the extreme contrary, is sticking to its 25-year story that Woods is the finest human to walk the Earth. 

What’s in a name? Which network, in a full-screen graphic this week, almost impossibly displayed Ralph Houk as “Ralph Houck”? That’s right, the MLB Network. 

Reader Rich Meyerson asks why New York NFL audiences have every Sunday been punished by the presence of yak-in-the-box Mark Schlereth. Is there a message within? Yes. It’s a sign to repent, sinners, repent! 

Where does the time go? Thanks to CBS, we learned this week that San Diego State won it first bowl game “since 2019.” Last year, SDSU turned down bowl invites due to COVID. 

San Diego State head coach Brady Hoke Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl championship trophy.
San Diego State head coach Brady Hoke holds up the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl championship trophy.
Kyle Okita/CSM/Shutterstock

Reader Bruce Desatnick: “The problem with the Jets and Giants is that both already stink next season.” Still, a lot has to do with how they make out in the mock drafts. 


Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death




Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence




Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers




Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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