Catching up with stories from outside the NFL

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

After thinking about the subject of many of my recent columns, I think it’s fair to say I’ve been a little obsessed with professional football. I’ve inadvertently ignored many of the other stories happening in the world of local and national sports.

Now that the NFL has taken a week off in preparation for the biggest game of the season, I’m going to try to rectify some of those oversights.

First, let me share my opinion about the southward migration of former White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen and former Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano. Both of them will be wearing Miami Marlins uniforms this spring. All I can say is the collective IQ of the state of Florida will probably drop a couple of points, and the sports psychologists in and around Miami are undoubtedly salivating.

In the world of professional basketball, the Chicago Bulls are atop the Central Division of the Eastern Conference with a 15-3 record at press time. They are a perfect 7-0 at home and 9-1 in the conference. They’ve managed this dominance despite their best player and last year’s league MVP, Derrick Rose, being sidelined for a couple of games with a nagging toe injury.

Locally, there isn’t much earth-shattering news in college basketball. The Fighting Illini and Wisconsin both have 15 wins and are fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Big 10 standings. Northwestern is tied for ninth with a 12-6 record.

The other college teams from Illinois aren’t doing a whole lot better. DePaul is 10-8. Illinois State is 12-8. Bradley and SIU have a total of 12 wins combined. What has happened to college basketball in our state? It wasn’t that long ago that Illinois was a pretty good place for college hoops.

I’ve intentionally abandoned my writing about the IceHogs because this paper now has another writer that focuses on them. I enjoy keeping up with them via his work.

I do get frequent Facebook updates on my high school basketball team of choice. The Rockton Hononegah girls’ team is one of the best in the state. They are 23-1 overall and undefeated in the conference. Lehigh University-bound senior guard Elizabeth Jordan recently scored the 1,000th point of her high school career.

NASCAR inducted another five members into their Hall of Fame this past weekend. Most notably, Cale Yarborough and driver-turned-announcer Darrell Waltrip were inducted.

The Rockford Speedway will be hosting their annual Champion’s Banquet this Saturday night (Jan. 28) at the Forest Hills Lodge. For more information or tickets, call the Rockford Speedway at (815) 633-1500.

The Belvidere North High School girls won the conference cheerleading competition. Yes, yes, they got spirit! How ’bout you?

Legendary Penn State football Head Coach Joe Paterno lost his battle with lung cancer last Sunday, Jan. 22, and earlier in the week, free-style skier Sarah Burke succumbed to injuries she suffered during a training accident. May they both rest in peace.

I’m fully aware there are a multitude of other things happening in the dynamic world of sports. It’s just not always possible to make sure they all get covered here in one of my columns. Thanks for all of the e-mails and suggestions. Keep them coming, and perhaps you’ll see your idea in an upcoming column — once the Super Bowl is over, that is.

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at

From the Jan. 25-31, 2012, issue

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