As ESPN and all other sport media have now become the A-Fraud show, I suppose I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer my take on the entire fiasco. That being, “I don’t care.”
Should I say it slower?
Anyone that is surprised by this recent development has their head firmly planted in the sand and anyone who is somehow upset by all this is simply not living in the real world. They call it the steroid era for a reason, as this implies that a large number of players were juicing, not simply an isolated few.
If anything, the forgotten fact that over a hundred players were also nabbed in this ONE limited and isolated test that they knew was coming, seems to confirm what we have all known (or should have known) for quite awhile: At one time, a vast percentage of the league was using steroids.
Pitchers were using steroids. Hitters were using steroids. Defensive specialists and base-runners were using steroids. How are you somehow gaining an unfair advantage if your competition is doing the same thing?
If anyone is completely guilty of dropping the ball on this issue and then feigning shock in the aftermath, it is Bud Selig and his crew of hypocrites. They obviously had the results of this and many other tests, they obviously knew the ins and outs of the locker room, they obviously knew what was going on but preferred NOT to stop it.
Because the cold and honest truth is that steroids saved baseball.
Before the injection (pun intended) that Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Barry Bonds gave the league, profits where down and MLB was in desperate need of some flash that could compete with the athleticism of the NBA and the violence of the NFL.
Steroids brought them that, and the epic battle between Sosa and McGwire raised the game in a way that has endured even beyond their departure and disgrace. Steroids saved the game…and made both owners and players a lot of money.
And so there has been a self-righteous outcry from many a sports writer stating that we can no longer believe a word that comes out of A-Rod’s mouth, and maybe that's right, but it seems to me that it is the MLB that has been lying most prolifically with their hemming and hawing about what they knew and when they knew it.
If anything, THAT’S what this latest evidence proves, and THAT’s the big story here, not the minutia about one unfairly isolated and ridiculed player picked out of a sea of “cheaters.” The league set the table; the players simply ate.
That Rodriguez lied in an interview to Katie Couric couldn’t be less relevant. And those who are quick to freak out about it should be pointing the finger at themselves. When cornered, people lie—plain and simple.
Good Christians lie with their hand on the Bible if it will get them out of a mess. This is not something only bad people do, it is what average people do, and pro athletes, like it or not, are just average people.
They are as flawed from a character point-of-view as the rest of the squabbling masses and are therefore NOT role models, as Charles Barkley has famously stated.
Any parent that is concerned about the message this sends to their kids should be more concerned about the time their kids saw them cut in line, cheat on a bill that had been misquoted, lie to a spouse about an infidelity, make an inaccurate excuse to their boss for why they were late, or talk their way out of a speeding ticket by pretending they were oblivious and had an emergency.
Kids don’t learn to lie and cheat from people like Alex Rodriguez. They learn it from their parents and friends, and they learn how effective it can be when shirking responsibility. Their denials start inherently young, and are either corrected or encouraged by their immediate surroundings, not by some head on a TV screen.
We elevate our athletes and movie stars to levels that aren’t realistic and then are inexplicably surprised when they appear to be human. And when they show any weakness, we hurl venom and insult and outrage, oblivious to our own flaws and shortcomings.
Our denial is, of course, another way of lying.
And we wonder where our kids are getting it from.
If anything, this more recent development makes me rethink whether or not Bonds, McGwire, and Sosa belong in the Hall of Fame, and more and more I think they do.
Steroids don’t make you an exceptional athlete.
They aren’t some magic potion that turns coal in diamonds. Athletes aren’t forged with a needle. And I think it’s becoming clear that the players being most publicized weren’t gaining an unfair advantage over their competition because much of the competition was using the same thing.
Over 100 players in ONE test? Wow. And what of the non-steroid supplements that athletes continue to consume today? There is plenty of research to support the fact that there are many legal, non-vilified substances that show more drastic results than any steroid. And there is no such thing as a “natural supplement.”
If it were natural, you wouldn’t have to ingest it as a pill, a patch, or a powder. So if the result is the same (or even greater) how is it that we continue to draw this nonsensical line in the sand?
Like it or not, supplements are a way of life…for everybody. We cheat death when we take our heart medication or our anti-biotic, scarcely considering whether it’s fair that others across the world can’t afford it.
We cheat our metabolisms when we drink our Slim-Fast in the morning or down a cup of coffee for a little extra pep, scarcely considering whether it’s fair that others work hard to keep off the weight and maintain their energy. And like it or not, these are people we are competing with, at the office and around the world.
Perhaps it is this truth that makes us so uncomfortable about steroids in sport.
The reason why I don’t care that Alex Rodriguez used steroids is because I’ve known it for years. I didn’t need some illegally leaked document to tell me that.
I knew McGwire was on steroids well before the media broke the story and suddenly everyone cared. I knew Bonds was on the juice with every centimeter increase of his ever enlarging head. And admit it, you did too.
As long as we’re touting fair play, shouldn’t we all start by coming clean?
Yes, Mr. Selig, that includes you.