This column is also award-winning writer Frank Deford's weekly sports commentary on NPR.
At Christmastime, it's long been the fashion for sports columnists to write an annual column about what various people in sports want to find under their tree -- a new quarterback for this coach, a starting pitcher for this general manager, and so on. But, of course, the Christmas of Santa Claus isn't the only one. There's also the message that is found in the gospel of Luke, which we can all of us, of all faiths, support... as the angels sing, "And on earth, peace, good will among people."
Nothing is so down to earth as sports, so let us this morning take scripture rather than Santa, and celebrate just some of the peace and good will we'd like to find in sport in the year ahead:
First of all, and most obviously, may the National Hockey League owners and players find labor peace and start the season.
May all men and women who coach children's teams treat their young charges with kindness. Character does not have to be built with screaming and abuse. May children's sports coaches show the same good will as those who direct children in plays and conduct them in orchestras.
And may all parents, watching their children play youth games, act with grace toward their own kids and good will toward all the others.
May Manny Pacquiao have the good sense never to climb back into the ring again. You were the best, Manny, but now go away in peace, and don't risk the good life you can lead for yourself and your Philippine people.
At every stadium and every arena, when you hear "Down in front," get down.
Find a way to convince National Football League players to stop owning guns and carrying guns. Peace, guys.
Have European soccer fans stop being racist. Good will, chaps and amigos.
May Pat Summitt, the great Tennessee coach, find joy in the games she still can watch and a gentle comfort thereafter.
Whenever the NHL does come back, let's make hockey like every other civilized sport and ban fighting.
May all networks give us more peace and quiet by restricting it to two announcers per game, per booth.
For every fan at every game who has ever had a beer: if you have to get drunk when rooting for your team, have the courtesy to stay home and watch the game there on your big HD screen in the family room.
May every football player -- NFL, college, high school, Pop Warner -- have the good sense to tackle with your shoulder, rather than spear with your head. Peace, good will to all players.
And when you go to the game, whatever the game, watch your language and... turn off your cellphone. Peace. Good will to all fans.