December was the month the oil-rich nation of Qatar in the Arabian Desert beat out the United States as future host of the 2022 World Cup, which came on the heels of the U.S. losing to Rio de Janeiro for hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics.
It may be a little easier to understand the bitter feeling of being rejected for the World Cup knowing that corruption allegations led to two executive committee members being excluded in the final vote. Once again, politics and sports collide. Qatar [pronounced "Cutter"] borders Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf, is the size of Connecticut, and has $4 billion to spend on nine air-conditioned stadiums in 130 degree temperatures. Qatar's victory proves money and oil wins votes.
December was the month to congratulate Cam Newton and Drew Brees, respective winners of the 2010 Heisman Trophy Winner and Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. Newton follows in the company of memorable players like Bo Jackson, Doug Flutie, Hershel Walker, Roger Staubach and Archie Griffin. Brees joined the company of iconic personalities like Tiger Woods, Derek Jeter, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Joe Montana, Bill Russell, Roger Bannister, Joe Paterno, Tom Brady, Lance Armstrong, Cal Ripken Jr., Arthur Ashe, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.
It may be cynical, but don't be fooled by the exceptional on- and off-field persona or general likability of these two 2010 sport celebrities. Beyond his talents as a top-rated quarterback who won this year's Super Bowl to help revitalize the city of New Orleans, Drew Brees has been brilliantly exploited in commercials for Pampers diapers and Dove soap.
Cam Newton has a great smile he was more than happy to flash on guest appearances for ABC's Good Morning America and Late Night with David Letterman after his Heisman win. Don't be fooled by the naivety of Newton, a controversial figure for being allegedly "shopped around" to the highest bidder by his dad.
Don't be fooled, either, by Drew Brees who fits the mold of the more mature-version of squeaky clean Tim Tebow. We should hope that these two players remain humble in their careers, but let's not forget there once was a local boy named Ben Roethlisberger and a resilient, rough and handsome Brett Favre who both were held in high esteem, too. Former Heisman winner O.J. Simpson was also a likable guy at a point in his football - and acting - career.
America has been down this road before. Just a year ago, the almighty Tiger Woods fell out of social graces and has yet to return to his former invincible self. Even Michael Jordan's image was tarnished after it was revealed he gambled like a mad dog on the golf course and everywhere else. Ironically, Michael Vick's good boy turned bad image has done a 180, and America is eating up the persona of a former felon seemingly turned good. Just check the retail market for No. 7 Eagles jerseys.
Sport celebrities live in a fishbowl with media and social attention focused on execution of superior athletic performance. Occasionally, distorted realities lead to susceptibility for superstar athletes to become intoxicated by public adoration. The clinical analysis: The propensity to feel emancipated from everyday life and reside in a perpetual world of kingdom is a byproduct of stardom that has been known to trigger deviant behavior in celebrity athletes.
America has seen and heard plenty of Rae Carruth's murder case, Pete Rose's gambling disgrace, Marion Jones' steroid denial, Kobe Bryant's and Rick Pitino's sex scandals and Mike Tyson's rage. America has been disappointed by Michael Phelps smoking marijuana not long after his eight-gold medal Olympic swimming feat, and by the lies from MLB greats like Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire about steroid use. Unfortunately, these lessons tell us that Cam Newton and Drew Brees are just as susceptible to having a future lapse in judgment, too - just like the committee that voted on Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup. Let's hope not.
Stay tuned in January for more interesting and entertaining sport stories from our small community in northwest Ohio to around the globe.
Bonnie Tiell is the Tiffin University's faculty representative to the NCAA.