Zika, Rory, And The Olympics

Mike Moffett

 by Mike Moffett
Weirs Times Columnist

The Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics are only five weeks away. As always, the quadrennial extravaganza will feature a surfeit of sports drama—and more. Brazil provides a grand venue for the ultimate reality show to showcase the world’s finest athletes, along with compelling international rivalries and countless human interest stories.
Following it all will be exhilarating and exhausting. We’ll have to pick our spots. But this being the information age, if we miss anything special, we can find it within minutes on You-Tube.
And there’s so much more, beyond sports. What world leaders will show up? Will the games be safe from terrorists? Who’ll get caught cheating?
The Russian track and field team has already been deservedly banned—due to numerous doping violations. The Russkies have been squawking about it, but, sheesh, they’re guilty as sin. The drug tests are pretty much fool-proof.
Interestingly, these games may well be remembered as the “Mosquito Olympics.” How much impact will the insect-borne Zika virus have on things? The sound of a mosquito is becoming more and more unsettling—if not downright scary!
The threat of catching a dread disease has already deterred potential visitors, while also keeping some athletes away as well. Golden State Warrior basketball superstar Steph Curry cited a bum knee as the reason he won’t be playing on the Olympic hoop team—but Zika-phobia is likely the real reason. (Steph looked pretty healthy during the NBA Finals.)
Irish golfing sensation Rory McIlroy was quite upfront about his decision to forego the new and intriguing Olympic Golf competition. It was all about the Zika. What a bummer. The return of golf to the Olympics has such promise, and the absence of McIlroy—one of the world’s best—diminishes the event.
“Even though the risk of infection from the Zika virus is considered low, it is a risk, nonetheless, and a risk I am unwilling to take,” explained McIlroy (presently engaged to the PGA’s Erica Stoll—who perhaps influenced his decision).
Rory is free to do as he pleases, and I’m free to opine that he is a sissy-boy. Women are ostensibly at far greater risk, and very few have steered away. Someday he may regret his decision. But look for him to compete in Olympic golf in 2020 in Tokyo.
As a Northern Irishman, McIlroy actually is a subject of Queen Elizabeth and the United Kingdom, as opposed to the Republic of Ireland, so he also has to deal with political pressure as well. But he’s lucky he plays a gentleman’s game where fans are quite respectful. If he were to have begged off his country’s national soccer team for fear of a mosquito then “futbol” fans would never let him forget it.

Sports Quiz
The 1962 New York Mets finished 40-120, 24 games behind what other National League expansion team that season? (Answer follows)

Born Today …
That is to say, sports standouts born on June 30 include star New York Met outfielder Ron Swoboda (1944) and former world heavyweight boxing champ “Iron Mike” Tyson (1966).

“The secret of managing is to keep the players who hate you away from the ones who are undecided.” – Casey Stengel

Sportsquiz Answer
The Houston Colt 45’s (later the Astros) finished a relatively robust 64-96, placing them well ahead of the Mets AND the Chicago Cubs (59-103).

Michael Moffett is a Professor of Sports Management for Plymouth State University and NHTI-Concord. He recently co-authored the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” (with the Marines)—which is available through Amazon.com. His e-mail address is mimoffett@comcast.net.