It once was described by a now departed sports scribbler as "the playpen of life."
Now, it could be best tabbed as "the pig sty."
It's a sordid underbelly that sometimes deals with shady lawyers and sports agents as well as not-so-gullible athletes, who often break down the legal boundaries while clinging to "I know nothing" defence.
Just this week, two seasoned NFL writers -- Jason Cole and Charles Robinson -- delved into the possibility of New Orleans Saints' running back Reggie Bush taking cash and gifts while he was playing at USC. Definitely a no-no, if true.
However, while a U.S. federal investigation has not revealed all the facts and figures to the general public to date, it's a serious charge put forward by the Yahoo! Sports investigative team.
But it's not surprising to learn about illegal activities in sports.
Take for instance, the high-profile BALCO case, which has wrapped its deplorable arms around the likes of baseball superstar Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees star Jason Giambi, sprinter Tim Montgomery and others.
While Bonds is still being investigated concerning taking steroids, five defendants, including BALCO founder Victor Conte, have pleaded guilty to illegal drug distribution, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Not only has The Chronicle reported on it, but two of their reporters, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, were ruled in September, 2006 to be in contempt of court for "refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating leaked transcripts in the (steroid distribution) case," involving BALCO (Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative).
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White sentenced the reporters to 18 months behind bars and docked their newspaper $1,000-a-day. The pair, meanwhile, are free with the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Frisco hearing the case in March.
While this reporter has detailed the "top cheaters" as well as the "dirtiest players" in a July, 2006 column, it's time to put forward an annual list of sports scandals from a wide range of scources.
Remember, this is my list, but you might have a different order:
* 1. The BALCO scandal. That case is on-going, but its repercussions will, undoubtedly, change the face of baseball and other sports, for it involves stars, such as Bonds.
* 2. Canada's Ben Johnson. It was a crushing blow to the sprinter and the entire nation when he was found to have used a banned substance during the 100 metres at the 1988 Seoul, South Korea Olympics. It left Johnson's life in disarray.
* 3. Tonya Harding. It was a whack attack heard around the world when figure skater Harding "hired" some goons to attack fellow competitor Nancy Kerrigan's knees in 1994. Since then Harding has been lost in an avalanche of bad publicity.
* 4. Pete Rose. An on-going drama, which still haunts baseball. The one-time superstar with the Cincinnati Reds was certain to gain Hall of Fame status, but he was banned from the game by former Major League Commissioner A. Bart Giamatti for his betting misdeeds. Rose is still denied access to Cooperstown, but, supposedly, thrives on appearances at baseball-card shows.
* 5. Mike Danton. A one-time player with the NHL's St. Louis Blues remains behind bars for his involvement in a murder-for-hire plot.
* 6. Mike Tyson. A walking-talking disaster appears ready to fall -- once again. The former, bruising heavyweight champion of the world is now cavorting with the unsavoury characters from the Las Vegas Strip.
* 7. O.J. Simpson. The former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL superstar with the Buffalo Bills, who was cleared of a double murder, has stooped to a new low with his latest book project. Oh, what a tangled web, O.J.
Of course, there are dozens of other scandals and the list could include the Kobe Bryant sex assault case; the Sammy Sosa cork bat case along with a bevy of college basketball points-shaving incidents.
One which we haven't mention is the gambling case, involving former Philadelphia Flyers' standout-turned-Phoenix Coyotes' assistant, Rick Tocchet. It probably deserves an entire page in the future.
JUST A BLIP: In case you missed it, the mothership paper reported in Wednesday edition that two Powell River Kings, Adam Presizniuk and Brandon Cummings, both 20, didn't appear in the Jan. 17 BCHL all-star game in Surrey. It seems Presizniuk and Cummings had been out drinking and causing a ruckus the night before and, according to the story, "slept off the effects while in RCMP custody."