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Posted: Thursday, November 4, 2004 12:00 am

Overlooked in all of the excitement of the Red Sox’ first world championship in 86 years was the news that an international sports tribune has upheld the decision of the Athens judges who awarded U.S. gymnast Paul Hamm a gold medal. Hamm’s chief competitor, South Korea’s Yang Tae-Young actually earned a better score than Hamm got but was the victim of some kind of clerical error, and through no fault of his own, had to settle for a second place silver medal.

Scoring controversies come with every Olympics. What makes this story unusual is that Hamm did not dispute the fact that Tae-Young got a raw deal. Inexplicably he threw more gasoline on the fire by thwarting all attempts to have a second gold medal issued to his competitor. Hamm must have figured that if he had to share the gold it would dilute his commercial appeal. According to last week’s Sports Business Journal however, Hamm’s poor sportsmanship has cost him big time. General Mills, which normally puts any U.S. Olympics gold medal winner on its Wheaties boxes, claims that they have no interest in Hamm. His agent concedes that the endorsement market has been non-existent for his client.

While Hamm has proven to be a sore winner, Derek Jeter has once again proven to be a sore loser. Three days after the Red Sox pulled off their miracle comeback against the Yankees in the American League Championship Series, Jeter told fans and reporters outside Yankee Stadium that he would not watch the World Series and was hoping that the Cardinals would sweep the Red Sox. Last year, after the Florida Marlins beat the Yankees in the World Series, Jeter talked about how miserable he felt being on the losing team of the Fall Classic.

I have always felt that a professional athlete has to win with class and be able to lose with dignity as well. It’s a lot more difficult to teach good sportsmanship to youngsters if a popular role model such as the Yankees captain refuses to exhibit it.

During his tenure Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber has made outrageous statements about how soccer will be the number one sport in this country within a generation. Since the early 1970s we’ve been hearing how more American kids are playing soccer in schools and that when they grow up they are going to be big pro soccer fans. That has yet to happen. Americans have taken a perverse pride in refusing to accept soccer just because it is the most widely played world sport. The current world political situation certainly does not help the sport’s growth here. Garber and MLS suffered another setback when the MetroStars were bounced yet again from the playoffs. Without a championship team in the New York area, MLS will continue to barely appear on the national sports radar screen.

With another NBA season upon us it may take Knicks and Nets fans a while to get used to finding their favorite teams on the radio. The Knicks move to WEPN (1050 AM) while WFAN (660) and WBBR (11130) will divvy up Nets games.

One of the last cuts from the Nets training camp was forward Darius Rice. Rice’s uncle is famous NFL wide receiver Jerry Rice.

Welcome to the discussion.