Thursday, August 1, 2013

A toast to a couple of sportsmen

It shouldn’t be like this, but it is.We are full to overflowing with news involving the likes of Lyin’ Ryan Braun, the narcissistic Alex Rodriguez, who still – get this! – wants to be a role model, and various other Major League Baseball players who are about to be disciplined for discretions of one type or another.
We are sick and tired of hearing and reading daily about the exploits of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.
We roll our eyes when we read about West Virginia defensive lineman Korey Harris who is alleged to have been involved in an armed robbery while wearing sweat pants with his number on them.
The sporting world, as we are reminded every single day, is full of clowns.
Which is why two of the stories that appeared on the first sports page of The Daily News on Wednesday carried such a wallop. They were like sunshine after a month of cloudy skies.
One of them involved the second annual Kamloops Marathon; the other was about happenings at the B.C. senior men’s golf championship at Eaglepoint Golf Resort.
Keith Parks of Kelowna was running in the 89th marathon of his life — yes, he’s a true Marathon Man — on Sunday, but, unfortunately, this one won’t count. In the end, he was the first runner across the finish line but he only ran something like 31 kilometres, when a full marathon covers 42.195km. No, he wasn’t testing his inner Rosie Ruiz.
Rather, it seems there was some sign-related confusion that resulted in Parks, and a few others, leaving the official course. It would have been easy for Parks to blast marathon organizers and to throw some volunteers under a bus.
Parks chose not to do that.
“Basically signage was non-existent,” Parks explained to our Adam Williams. “But I take my responsibility for it. I should have researched the route.”
Having been led down a garden path or worse, one might have excused Parks had he put Kamloops in his rearview mirror and kept it there. Rather than waste energy on being angry, he chose to take the high road.
“It’s an outstanding event,” he said. “I’ll definitely come back next year.”
Which brings us to golfer Bob Pickering. He was the low Kamloopsian after Monday’s first round of the B.C. senior men’s championship, but he wasn’t on the course for Wednesday’s third and final round.
After Tuesday’s second round, Pickering found himself a victim of perhaps the harshest rule in all of sports.
In competitive golf, if you sign an incorrect scorecard you are disqualified. You are gone, no questions asked, even if you’re the one who points it out.
Pickering, having opened with a 2-over 74, came in with a 79 on Tuesday. He easily would have made the cut, allowing him to play in the final round.
However, well after his round, Pickering noticed the leaderboard showed him with a six on the par-4 17th hole when he actually had struck the ball seven times.
He knew right then that there had been a mistake, that he had signed for a six when he actually had taken seven. So he did the only thing he could do, assuming he wanted to sleep that night — he turned himself in.
Never mind that it was an honest mistake. Never mind that there was no intent to cheat. Pickering, who said competing in the championship was the experience of a lifetime, turned himself in and was DQ’d.
“I wanted to puke,” Pickering said.
There was never a thought about not doing the right thing. There was never a thought about trying to pin the blame on anyone else.
“It was totally my fault, no one else’s,” Pickering said.
It’s doubtful that Parks and Pickering ever have met. And I’m sure there they aren’t the last two honest men. But what they did shouldn’t be ignored or get lost in the ravages of time.
A bunch of baseball players are going to be suspended, perhaps as early as Friday, as that sport’s latest drug scandal moves along, picking up victims like a lint roller. It is doubtful that even one of them will stand up and say: “I screwed up.” Rather, fingers will be pointed at a cousin or a personal trainer, maybe even a dog.
This ‘shrug and it will go away’ attitude is nothing new, of course. There are numerous track and field stars who have tested positive, been suspended and refused to admit complicity, never mind guilt.
It just goes on and on and . . .
That’s all the more reason for you, the next time you’re having a beverage or even your morning coffee, to take a few moments and raise a toast to Keith Parks and Bob Pickering, two gentlemen who showed us that sportsmanship is still alive.

(Gregg Drinnan is sports editor of The Daily News. He is at, and

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