The Subtle Decline In Sports: Players (and Refs) Bigger Than The Game

mike fentonContributor IJune 1, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - MAY 30:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts after a play against the Orlando Magic in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2009 Playoffs at Amway Arena on May 30, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

I, as a sports fan, am flabbergasted over the last year in sports news.  From steroids to bad sportsmanship, it seems like the games have taken the back burner to their players.

The topic of steroids in baseball has shed some new spotlights on Major League Baseball's stars, including Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Alex Rodriguez among others.

All these players have one thing in common: Home run records. Yet not only do all these players have evidence against them, they have been caught lying about their usage or lack there of.

One of my pet peeves about them is despite their big contracts, most of them are defensive detriments to their team. A lot of people remember Andruw Jones as an all-or-nothing hitter (home runs or strikeouts), but not many remember he won a lot of gold gloves as well.

Baseball is a two-way sport (except for DH) and remarkable defensive plays are much more rare than grand slams, yet grand slams are more celebrated than triple plays.

The officiating in many of the major sports has been detrimental to the overall enjoyment for fans. I understand the officials are human, but when networks show replays where you can clearly see the official staring at the play in question and not making the call is mind boggling.

The way it looks like to me is the leagues understand that games that are close or tied are much more enjoyable to a broader crowd than blowouts are, especially in the playoffs when networks can attract more advertising revenue in a 6 or 7-game series than a sweep.

The NBA has been getting a lot of heat on this topic. Years ago the NHL added a second referee to address this, and the NFL instituted reviews for this reason.

Still every sport has this problem no matter what policies or decisions they make. Watch the last one where Hudler gets cross checked and ends up with the penalty. That video was from one series where it had no right going past five games had it been called properly.

The decline of sportsmanship is appalling. It's customary in sports when you lose to a better team you go out and shake their hands. I remember playing sports as a kid after every game, not just in playoffs, lining up and shaking the other teams hands, win or lose.

I remember the car ride home, win or lose, breaking down the game to your favorite fans. Hell, I remember being on deck watching my teammate strikeout for the final out in the championship game in Little League and being the first to say "nice try man" and then being at the front of the line to shake hands at home plate.

I guess the times have changed but wait, LeBron James is about seven months older than me. My favorite quote that he gave the day after was, "I'm a winner, and when someone beats you up, you just don't congratulate them". What happens after every UFC fight?

LeBron, your job doesn't start and end in 48 minutes, your job is 24/7 as a role model. If frustration gets you out of doing your job, then I should be able to call off work next time someone outperforms me at work.

Thank you guys for your time and leave some criticisms.