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Long IslandColumnists

When sports aren't the game anymore

This photo shows the crowd on Super Bowl

This photo shows the crowd on Super Bowl Boulevard in Times Square on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

The Super Bowl is really the Ad Bowl.

The Winter Olympics are mainly an excuse for debating terrorism and gay rights.

The juiced-up A-Rod may finally be done.

Will sports ever just be sports again? Please don't hold your breath, sports fans!

There once was a time when the games were played entirely on the field. The spectators watched or they didn't. Then everyone went home.

That was before sports became such a business and such a cultural force. Now, the chatter on the sidelines threatens to completely drown out the action in the game.

It may well be that by the final whistle tonight, the main thing we'll remember from Super Bowl XLVIII will be the chilly New Jersey temperatures, Richard Sherman's psyche-out rant and Derrick Coleman's hard-of-hearing Duracell ad. Certainly, if Super Bowl history is any guide, we shouldn't expect an on-field nail-biter. A month from now, who will still remember which teams played?

It's the same old story all across the sports world. Contract fights, medical debates, drug habits, endorsement deals -- they're what pass for the real games now. Sometimes, they're even more fun.

Really, where would the pre-Olympic coverage be if we weren't debating suicide bombers and Vladimir Putin's homophobia? The lugers might actually get the attention they deserve.


1. The Stub-Hub Ticket Bowl

2. The Second-Set-of-Long-Johns Bowl

3. The Just-Some-Teams-from-the-West Bowl

4. The Bridge-to-New-Jersey-Is-Open Bowl

5. The Aren't-You-Glad-You're-Watching-on-TV Bowl

ASKED AND UNANSWERED: What if the roles were reversed? Still no criminal charges if the reporter had threatened to hurl the congressman off a balcony and "break you in half -- like a boy"? . . . How will LIRR workers beat the new biometric fingerprint check-in clock? Haven't some RRers shown a certain knack for scamming? . . . If Dr. Kenneth Hershon's cholesterol-fighting PCSK9-inhibitor research succeeds, does that mean I can start eating four fried eggs for breakfast with a double side of extra-fatty bacon? . . . Why don't more Stony Brook University students graduate in four years? Can Prez Sam Stanley hike the percentage from 40 to 60? . . . What's the difference between a farm and a really big, rich-person's front yard? East Hampton planning chairman Reed Jones calls that a legitimate -- and growing -- question . . . Nice to hear that "Orange Is the New Black" has been shooting episodes at the Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Riverhead, but what has Netflix done to spiff up the real inmates' wardrobes? . . . What's left of the 40 or so LI Patch sites? Who, if anyone, is picking up their hyperlocal coverage? I know I learned stuff from the now-shuttered Patches . . . Would under-the-mattress be safer? From Woodmere to Hewlett, when did Nassau burglars start stealing the safes out of people's homes -- at least 15 since last summer? . . . Why is the Great Neck Arts Center becoming the Gold Coast Arts Center? "Great Neck" never sounded shabby to me.THE NEWS IN SONG: I wanted to touch the rim: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, "Wings,"




A diagnosis of Down syndrome doesn't have to be a life-ender. No one could possibly achieve more living -- or do more hands-on good -- than Keith Caputo of Center Moriches. Helping to lead the Moriches Community Center. Raising funds for Santa's Workshop at the holidays. Pitching in whenever anything needs to be done. The eternally upbeat 33-year-old took big inspiration from his close friend, Moriches' late coach Anthony Parlato. Keith lives by one powerful rule: "Help Someone Today" -- despite (or is it because of?) his Down syndrome. "Anthony really does put a smile on everyone's faces," says his mom, personal assistant, taxi driver and PR rep, Cassy Caputo. "And I'm not just saying that because he's my son. Ask anyone around here."

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