Are we agreed that this was a winter of almost solid gloom? There was no record snow but it was the rarest of days if the sun took a quick snapshot.
The gloom was not relieved by much good news. Instead there were earthquakes and upheavals; more than a dozen people killed when a bus driver allegedly, without a valid driver's license, took them on a harrowing ride home that ended in horror.
Ordinarily we can get some temporary relief from bad news by poking our noses in the sports section, but even that escape was closed as often as it was opened by a steady flow of disgusting events.
There was a time when college sports, because they were seriously policed, were the most reliable relief. No longer. Take the case of Ohio State, once one of the cleaner athletic programs. The Buckeyes football coach, Jim Tressel, has also been a man respected and admired. But when Tressel was tipped off by a former player, now a lawyer, that five of his current players, including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, were involved in selling memorabilia to a Columbus, Ohio, tattoo artist, which is against NCAA rules, the coach sat on the information.
Eight months after Tressel learned of the serious infractions, he finally told school authorities. The coach's explanations about his failure to report the infraction immediately have not been swallowed by anyone who does not wear the Buckeyes' colors. The coach received a much lesser suspension than players, who will sit for the first five games of the '11 season. He was to miss Ohio State's first two games, which are against Akron and Toledo. That a likely pair of mismatches. On Friday Tressel finally felt the heat and added three significant games to his own suspension.
Meanwhile, the National Hockey League's general managers met with civilized fans hoping they might do something about concussions and the head shots that produce them. Since Montreal's Max Pacioretty recently had his neck broken and suffered a concussion after a head shot by Boston's Zdeno Chara occurred on the seventh anniversary of Todd Bertuzzi's assault on Steve Moore, which left him with nearly identical injuries to Pacioretty.
Moore never played again. Pacioretty may face a similar future. The result of concussions ending careers is an old, sad story in the NHL. The careers of such stars as Eric Lindros and Scott Stevens ended in similar manner.
The GMs did nothing of consequence to address the concussions, since enough of their fans think caving into ridding the game of head shots is the sign of "sissy hockey." What they did address was the effectiveness of replays. Replays never broke anyone's neck.
For now, the NFL is not playing football and may not for a long time, but the league will still draft in New York next month. The draft is a big TV draw for a huge audience of fans each spring as well as a hoot for the draftees and their families. The players' association is attempting to convince the rookies-to-be not to show up for what has been a showcase for the future of their sport. If the veteran players have their way the last vestige of entertainment for months to come will be taken away from the fans.
Larry Felser, former News columnist, appears in Sunday's editions.