Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week they discuss the decision to stop the NFL concussion settlement, the media's indifference to a big boxing match in Montreal, the maturity of Anthony Bennett and NHL outdoor games.
Bruce Arthur, National Post: My thumb is up to U.S. federal judge Anita Brody, who this week halted the NFL's concussion settlement with former players. Judge Brody was concerned that with fixed dollar awards for specific ailments for ex-NFL players - a ghoulish list that specifies, for example, up to $3.5 million for Alzheimer's, or up to $5 million for ALS - and a $765 million cap on the settlement fund, the money could run out, since it's designed to cover 20,000 men over 65 years. Yes, there are ex-players who need help right now, and this could hurt them. But given the seriousness of the settlement, its potential ramifications, and what we still have to learn about what football does to people's brains, it seems like the least you can do is to double-check the math.
Steve Simmons, Sun Media: My thumb is down to us - those of us in mainstream sports media in English Canada - who have ignored the rich and electric Quebec boxing scene. Saturday night, at a sold out Bell Centre, two former world champions, adopted Montrealers Jean Pascal and Lucien Bute, boxed a 12-rounder that most of us outside Quebec and the United States didn't pay any attention to. "This is the Super Bowl of boxing in Canada," said Pascal, the winner, but what he should have said is: this is the Super Bowl of boxing in French Canada. The bout was available live on HBO in the U.S. but not offered live and free across Canada. And not covered by anyone in Canada outside Quebec. We failed here on a major event: when it comes to boxing in Quebec, we always fail.
Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated: My thumb is up to Anthony Bennett for uncommon maturity. The surprising first pick in the NBA Draft says he will not object if the Cavaliers send him to the Development League to straighten out his game. Certainly some tidying up is in order. In about 10 minutes a night, the 20-year-old Torontonian has averaged two and a half points and shot a miserable 27 per cent. This is the worst start for a No. 1 overall selection since… well, ever. Most top picks would resist a demotion. Laudably Bennett, who has had his 6-8 frame parked on the bench, has parked his ego at the door.
Dave Hodge, TSN: I will need both of my thumbs -- one is up to the NHL for the obvious success of the outdoor games, another of which we can talk about here next week as the Ducks and the Kings play on Saturday at Dodger Stadium. That'll be followed by the Rangers and Devils at Yankee Stadium next Sunday. And all the hockey fans in the stands at two of baseball's most famous stadiums will be having a great time at a hockey "event". Not so much the TV watchers. So let me say "thumbs down", to the viewing experience at home. The New Year's Day game in Detroit could be measured this way, I think -- the fans in Ann Arbor were as excited as the fans at home were bored for much of the time. The excitement level will be the same at the LA and NY "events". The boredom level is liable to increase for the rest of us, because to expect what could be called a good hockey game is to expect too much.