Bits & Pieces: Local youth sports scene worth sticking around for

Thank goodness that we have local sports to watch and that we can enjoy them free of all the stuff that has brought down so many professional athletes and colleges.

I answered without hesitation years ago when someone once asked me why I like to cover youth sports instead of the colleges and pros. There is something special about being a community newspaper and getting to cover youth sports that are real, honest and not compromised by outside influences.

I enjoy what the Howard County Youth Program has produced in a number of sports. I enjoy watching some of those great Howard County Recreation and Parks programs, and the Special Olympics programs have been an absolute delight as well.

Give me the running events put on by Howard County Striders and Rip-it, and the Columbia Triathlon people have been marvelous in putting on clean, honest triathlons. The Soccer Association of Columbia has given us decades of pleasure. Columbia Aquatics and the Howard County Tennis Association have been great programs for as long as I can remember. AYRA, Elkridge Youth Organization and the Kangaroo Kids all make us proud. The Howard County Lacrosse people put on great contests. And our high school sports programs are second to none.

I could go on and on citing other great athletic programs here but space considerations restrict me from naming all of them.

I am sick and tired of hearing about major league home runs that weren't home runs, Tour de France winners who were blood doping and track stars who were pumped up on more than just adrenaline.

What am I to believe when I watch a college football game knowing that many schools are out just for the money and violate basic rules of integrity. Oklahoma State is the latest to be exposed, but I am sure there are many more who have cheated one way or another. How does a respected college allow a football star to remain in college for years when he has a grade point average of zero?

How does a top college allow a basketball player to be in school when he can't read?

Even 64-year-old Dyan Nyad's 11-mile swim from Cuba to Florida is under some question by long-distance swimmers. People are questioning everything now. I see things, but I can't really believe what I see. Once big money entered the picture, right is now wrong. Role models have clay feet, while league officials don't seem to care one bit, as long as the money keeps rolling in.

League officials had to know that the home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa was suspicious, as were the seven wins by Mr. Armstrong. The only reason these violations came to the front was because someone, other than those in charge, exposed them. Unfortunately for all of us, the new motto is "It's OK as long as you don't get caught."

So I have decided to stick with the locals, where I know things are real and uncompromised. Don't get me wrong, there are still many professional athletes that are worthy of being looked up to as role models. My fear, however, is that young athletes emulate professionals who in some cases turn out to be less.

Preparing for Bike About

This year marks the 13th year of the Bike About, put on by the Columbia Association and its Archives. The event usually draws approximately 400 bikers to Lake Elkhorn on Sept. 21 for either a 3.4 or 10.6-mile ride. Both rides start and finish at the lake. Along the way, people from the Columbia Archives will talk about Columbia history. If you want to have a great family outing, there is still time to register. You can even register at the gazebo at Lake Elkhorn the day of the race.

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