Indiana Daily Student

Column: Best-case scenarios for major sports

I will be the first to admit I am not an avid golf fan, despite the best efforts of my
late grandfather.

For a time this past weekend, though, I found myself on the bandwagon, and I am not ashamed to admit it. When 52-year-old Fred Couples was tied for the lead at the Masters after two rounds, I spent the evening reading numerous articles about the man, the event and golf in general.

I doubt I was the only one who went from casual observer to avid fan and back — after Couples fell out of contention on Day 3 — in the course of less than 24 hours. A win by Couples would have been huge for the PGA, a surefire way to turn many casual fans into much more than that.

This got me thinking. Sports today are in fairly decent shape. There are scandals and slumps, sure, but after a year of looming lockouts and ugly allegations, things could be a great deal worse. That said, every sport, now as much as ever, could benefit from a select few things happening, something that captures the interest of the public and makes people stand up and cheer for all the right reasons.

Here are what I consider to be the best things that could happen soon for a handful
of sports.

Golf — A player older than 50 wins a major.

Tiger Woods is not what he once was and might never be. His scandals command more attention than his play. Despite much hype, other players, such as Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy, have yet to seize on the opportunity to become the faces of golf.

The sport needs to stop hoping that will happen and instead capitalize on the small magical moments that golf seems to provide. From Couples this past weekend to Tom Watson at the British Open in 2009, Champions Tour veterans can occasionally find themselves squarely in the running at majors. Sooner or later, one will pull through and shatter the unbroken 50-year barrier.

Baseball — At least two players with more than 50 home runs in a season.

It’s not just chicks that dig the long ball. Home runs have long captivated baseball audiences like nothing else.

In this post-steroid era, an apparent age of dominant pitching, home run totals are not reaching the marks they used to. There have not been multiple players with more than 50 homers in a season since 2007.

That needs to change. A compelling home run chase that reached at least 50 would almost certainly capture the nation’s imagination in a distinctly nostalgic way.

Even better, what if the race was between two players from the same team, such as Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, who both play for the Detroit Tigers?

Football — Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III live up to their billing.

With the draft fast approaching, discussion still almost exclusively concerns the top two picks. Luck and Griffin are near-locks to go with those picks, and the order is not really even in doubt but still the talk persists.

It is far from the first time that multiple quarterbacks will go near the top of the draft, and these debates, merited or not, have happened many times. As Peyton Manning’s headlines and Ryan Leaf’s criminal record remind us, though, some signal callers pan out, and some don’t.

The NFL would love to see both Luck and Griffin become the stars they are capable of being. Each has shown himself to be a stand-up guy. These are the kind of players the league wants at the podium postgame after leading their teams to wins. It’s rare to have two characters with this level of talent at the quarterback position in the same year, and it would be a real shame if both cannot reach their lofty potential.

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