THE SPORTS DOCTOR- Irritating: Sports news gets under the skin

Should 16-year-olds circumnavigate?

Sports news this week has been indescribably annoying. Every time I took a break from not scratching my first-ever case of poison ivy, stories came along to get under my skin (along with the poison ivy). It was almost distracting enough to stop the itch.

If you watched 16-year-old Abby Sunderland's parents on the Today show last week, you would not have guessed their daughter was stranded in the middle of the Indian Ocean as her attempt to become the world's youngest circumnavigator came to a terrifying halt. Wind had knocked down her Open 40 sloop and dismasted it, leaving in its place a two-inch stub and Abby foundering 400 miles away from the nearest ship. 

Her parents, who had been marketing a reality show about their family, and whose son, Zac, was the first person under 18 to sail around the world, were remarkably stoic.

I love sailing— it's one of my favorite ways to spend time. Whether on a day-sailer or a 120-foot yacht, I couldn't be happier. In my time aboard, I've run into families who live their lives on sailboats, constantly moving from one port to another, traveling the world together. I've always envied them and fantasized about raising my own family that way, having coffee while dolphins swim alongside, and rocking babies to sleep to the movement of the waves. It would be a lovely life.

However, the thought of sending my child out alone to circumnavigate the world makes me sick to my stomach. Many who offered an opinion about Abby Sunderland pointed out that today's children are soft. They applauded her parents for their attitude in a world where children have to be buckled into car seats. The Sunderlands are "brave" (Bruce Barcott, Outside Magazine), and the "world needs more parents willing to let their kids explore" (NBCSports blog).

Whether Abby Sunderland is a qualified sailor isn't the question– she undoubtedly is. It wasn't luck that sailed her boat from California to the Indian Ocean, but it was luck that kept Sunderland at the wheel. It's luck that kept pirates from capturing Abby as she sailed around the Cape of Good Hope. It's luck that a wave didn't capsize the "Wild Eyes" after it was dismasted. 

Abby was alone because she was trying to set a record. All the commentary about what great parents the Sunderlands are fails when viewed through that lens. Would having one parent accompany Abby make her a "sissy" (NBCblog)? Would having a companion boat limit her ability to explore? 

I'm confounded and disgusted by those people, including Abby's parents, who believe it would.

When the Washington Redskins announced they were seeking to recoup $21 million from defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth after he didn't show up at a mandatory two-day minicamp, I was pleasantly surprised. Then I remembered that while Haynesworth is no picnic in the locker room, the Redskins have used and abused him ever since they paid him an obscene amount of money ($100 million) to come to Washington in the first place. As the Washington Post's Sally Jenkins so aptly points out, Haynesworth turned down a lot of good offers to sign with a team that ultimately changed his job description to "human snowplow." 

Then again, Haynesworth has always been selfish, and even $100 million won't turn him into a team player. I wonder when cutting losses will cease being the strategy of choice for teams that try to buy themselves out of a losing streak.

One final note: it seems World Cup referee Koman Coulibaly read my column about umpires and their diplomatic immunity. After storming back from a 2-0 deficit against Slovenia last June 18, the U. S. national team scored what was surely the winning goal in the 85th minute, only to have it waved off by Coulibaly due to an invisible foul. 

Subsequent reviews didn't shed any light on Coulibaly's call, and while officially FIFA will review Coulibaly's performance before allowing him to advance to the next round, it seems he is unofficially off the hook, as FIFA decided to let him be the back-up referee just two days later. 

Oh, where's my calamine lotion?


Juanita Giles lives in Keysville where she makes videos for a living.