Government and Sports: Where Integrity Stops and Control Begins

Jeff YangContributor IJune 11, 2008

Sports in 07/08 have been so far, astonishing.

We have watched Barry Bonds break the all-time home run record. We have followed a Celtics team going from being the laughingstock of the NBA to the NBA Finals in mere months.

We have witnessed possibly one of the greatest sports upsets of all time by a NY Giants team and the fall of one of the greatest seasons of all time by the Patriots. This year has been so far a great year in sports but one aspect that has been more relevant then ever is the loss of integrity in all of these professional sports.

Corruption is nothing new to the area of sports. It has happened many times over the decades. The 1919 Black Sox Scandal is probably one of the first and most well known sport scandal to ever take place.

Even 89 years later, There are still scandals that revolve in sports. Of course, none of these more current situations like the Mitchell Report and Roger Clemens, SpyGate or the Donaghey Scandal revolved around organized crime, but it still doesn't defeat the fact that each of these situations has changed the integrity of each of the sports involved.

Let's take a look at each of these situations and how it has changed the sport.

While the Mitchell Report in itself was not very effective in the sense of "changing the aspect" of the game of baseball; It still provided fans and the media a like a question of integrity that occurs in the sport of baseball.

Roger Clemens' situation is an obvious result of what the Mitchell Report was set out to do. While Roger Clemens can be called one of the greatest pitchers of all time, the entire integrity of his career and his legacy have now become tainted because of his use of performance enhancing drugs.

The report may not have effected baseball as a whole, but the fact that even some of the greatest players of the sport can no longer be trusted and are suspect to using steroids or drugs is one aspect that makes fans cringe.

Even more surprising is the fact that we no longer find it condemning or even surprising that a player uses steroids, It's just accepted.

One can tell that the sport has lost all shred of integrity when baseball fans even have come to terms with the player who uses steroids and just let the player get off easy. 

Granted, not all fans are like this, and a lot of fans are outraged by players who do use steroids or drugs to get by in the MLB. But the fact still remains, there are a great amount of fans who just no longer "care" about players using steroids in baseball anymore.

The Mitchell Report in itself did one thing that did changed the aspect of the other professional sports: government involvement.

The report ran by George Mitchell has started an influx of government interference and involvement into the world of professional sports.

SpyGate is one of the scandals that was attacked by Arlen Specter at the end of the season which generated because of the occurrence of the Mitchell Report. While Spygate was handled mostly in the first few weeks of the NFL season, Specter kept attacking the Patriots and the NFL for a supposed "cover-up" by the NFL to take into the integrity of the game.

Yet the fact still remains, the Mitchell Report has started something that will eventually hurt professional sports in general. While it may seem that all Congress want to do is to watch out for the sport in question, there are some aspects of sports that the government does not understand.

The belief that an outside force needs to regulate a sport, is rather dumb. Thinking that an entire sport is corrupted from the inside out is just plain stupid.

If the entire sport of football, baseball, basketball or any sport is corrupted from the head office of the league, then what is the point of the fans watching the sport anyways?

If the league that hosts the sport doesn't have any credibility, why bother when you may be watching a completely fixed game?

Spygate was handled soundly. It's over and it's done. Let's take a look at the Donaghey situation. 

The whole Donaghey scandal, in my opinion, is a cross road between what happened in the Mitchell Report and what occurred in SpyGate. Tim Donaghey is a convicted felon for gambling on games he officiated and attempting to throw them towards or against teams he bet on.

While he is convicted and he is being put on trial, He has released information to the public of the officiating in two playoff series in 2002 and in 2005. People who do recall the 2002 NBA Playoffs will easily realize that Donaghey refers to the King-Lakers series in 2002.

Anyone who watched that series could call it the worst officiating ever in all of professional sports. The integrity of the NBA was put into question after that series was over, and the fans and the Sacramento Kings demanded Stern's investigation into the matter.

It eventually died down and was basically forgotten for years until Donaghey revealed to the public of the officials intent to give phantom calls and try to throw games into seven games.

Donaghey may be a felon and probably just wants to lighten his sentence as much as he can, but the fact still remains that he has become specific on certain series and occurences in which the head office "intentionally" wanted to throw games towards other teams.

David Stern has came out and said that this is nothing new to the league and the FBI and Congress along with the league will investigate anything else that Donaghey says.

But fans are now asking, is the NBA really looking out for the best interest of the fans? Is the NBA really that corrupt? I say no.

But the FBI and Congress are already looking into the matter, which brings back my point that government involvement will weaken the sport.

What if the FBI or Congress calls for a "Mitchell Report" on the NBA? Do they start throwing out policies and regulations the entire league must follow? Government control over the situation is not needed for any of this.

David Stern and the head offices of the NBA has proven that they have handled any situation thrown at them before. What if the entire league is regulated by the government and the commissioner becomes just a pawn?

I know this is mainly speculation and exaggeration, but if a league cannot regulate itself, it shouldn't exist.

The only people who really lose in this situation is the fans. The integrity of each sport is lost and the love of the sport dies with it.


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