With Integrity in the Balance, Professional Leagues Need To Take Action

Stephen HennesseyCorrespondent IMay 13, 2008

This is a crucial period of time for sports.

Years from now, people will look back to this time as a disaster. If trends continue, these people will see why the sports world is in a state of emergency. Performance-enhancing drugs, video taping coaches' signals, and paying collegiate athletes tens of thousands of dollars in benefits.

We are watching the demise of former stars such as Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Michael Vick, Tim Donaghy, and mega-coach Bill Belichick.

We have watched the Clemens-Brian McNamee congressional hearings on television.

We have turned our heads when Bonds broke Hank Aaron's home run record, only to act upset when he actually held the record.

And we have honored the New England Patriots' "dynasty" run, until the Spygate scandal was exposed and we watched the video tapes released by ex-cameraman Matt Walsh.

People in all walks of life will do anything in an attempt to give themselves an advantage. That is no secret.

However, witnessing the corruption and cheating of our most revered sports stars brings a sour taste. We cannot trust the sports we are watching. We cannot wallow in the sports that have been our escapes since childhood.

Is that elusive running back on steroids? Is this newly emerging home run hitter taking Human Growth Hormone? Does this Super Bowl champion team know what play is coming?

Trust is gone—we are now forced to question every miraculous event. What used to be celebrated by genuine fans will now be met by skeptics.

In order to regain the trust of its loyal fans, each professional league must take enormous steps to prove that its integrity is trustworthy.

The NFL must place security guards with each team, ensuring that video-taping cannot occur. The NBA must do extensive background checks on its referees, in order to make sure there are no hidden interests for these officials. And the MLB must come up with a full proof testing policy to ensure that its athletes are not on steroids or HGH.

If these leagues do not take such action and levy penalties, then we will forever remember this time as that in which professional sports lost its integrity for good.