Baseball gives another A-OK to steroids
The so-called “issue” of steroid use is made nearly irrelevant by the pundits on both sides who seek to include all sports – there’s a crisis in cycling, there’s debate in baseball, there’s no problem in hockey. I guess that means it all averages out, doesn’t it?
This is a shame. Let me rephrase that: it’s a shame that this has been watered down to the point of general indifference on the part of those who should care the most. Today, baseball commissioner Bud Selig, never known for his integrity or leadership, offered what amounts to a pardon to notorious doper Jason Giambi. If you’re a baseball fan, perhaps you care to some degree, but if you’re not, then this is going to be completely outside of your radar. The result is that doping is allowed to continue at a ‘reasonable’ level in baseball, and the league will only hold the occasional meeting or if you’re really stupid enough to get caught doping. Then you’ll be suspended... unless you’re a big star, then see the aforementioned part about meetings.
Baseball is right in the middle of the spectrum when it comes to worldwide doping. You’ve heard the stories about cycling and the Tour de France the past few years, with one cycling star after another either being suspended, banned or under investigation. Floyd Landis still maintains his innocence, as does Lance Armstrong, but the teams and sponsors of the accused are starting to react with more initiative and guile, since there is real money to be lost by being associated with cheating and drugs. Yes, the world of cycling is in a self-described crisis, and it is serious about cracking down, after years of half-measures.
On the other end is hockey, which claims to not have a steroids issue. There have been no major cases, no real flaps at all. The hockey culture, at least, promotes health – well, aside from the regularly administered concussions, fractures, lacerations, ligament tears and lost teeth. Is it a coincidence that hockey is the smallest of the ‘big four’ sports in the
Look: we know they’re doping, we know they’re cheating. Baseball has recently endured the mockery known as the Barry Bonds homerun chase, where the discourse over the validity of the impending changing hands of the all-time record was questioned in every single article, every single day. Even those writing about it daily had to admit long ago that the subject had grown stale, but their jobs dictated that they persist. Has baseball gone down the tubes because of it? Certainly not. Bonds now owns the record, and baseball parks still fill up, although not to capacity.
Football stadiums do not empty on the rumor of a doped star. But if Peyton Manning, Ladanian Tomlinson and Brian Urlacher all tested positive before the season began, would people eschew football? I think not.
And that’s the issue, really, is that sports are a business, one that depends on fans being interested. As cycling starts to see fans dropping off, it is taking action. As baseball continues to barely skate by under the tainted shroud of Bonds, Giambi and other cheaters, it will continue to do so, because the ruling class worry that changes will be worse than the status quo. If football saw a dent in its bottom line, perhaps it would take countermeasures, but in the meantime it works on the theory that public perception of doping in the NFL would be bad, and thereby takes action to make sure that doping does not come to the fore.
The reason most often given for the banning of ‘doping’ substances is that it is dangerous to the health of those using them, and although we don’t care what happens to some spoiled millionaire who is paid to sacrifice his body, it’s the kids who look up to that athlete that we should worry about, the kids that may be your own. Do you think the commissioners and owners of the multi-billion-dollar sports care about your kids? Not as long as you’re buying a ticket for them.
Hence, the responsibility is yours. The gatekeepers won’t react unless their bottom lines are hit, just like it is across the rest of an open market. The problem with Barry Bonds is that it’s not really that impressive to cheat in order to smack a ball, but when an offensive lineman juices up and crashes into a nosetackle who has also partaken of the needle, it is epic. Those football players are gladiators, and we want to see them get trampled, flung, crushed and dismantled. We know they’ll leave the game limping, lisping and thinking slower, so why would we care if they’re putting illegal chemicals in their bodies? These are human tractors, so anything short of bionics are acceptable, under the cover of night. Baseball, on the other hand, is about individual match-ups, and if only one side is cheating, it really takes the fascination out of it. If we knew that Pitcher X was doping just as much as Bonds and Giambi, then it would be a fair match, but when just one is known to be cheating, what’s the point? Or better yet, where’s the sport in that?
Tags: Steroids , Doping , Cheating , Baseball
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