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Professional Athletes Need a Timeout

The professional world of sports is becoming tarnished. Head butts in soccer (Zidane in the World Cup Final), steroids in baseball (Barry Bonds et al.), EPO and other drugs in cycling (Tyler Hamilton; Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich and many other riders in this year's Tour de France) and triathlon (Nina Kraft, Rutger Beke), players brawling in the stands with fans in basketball (Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons), ear biting in boxing (Mike Tyson)...I can't wait to see what pathetic demonstrations of sportsmanship this year's National Football League season brings.

I'm finished trying to figure out the cause: "win at all costs," "everyone else is doing it," "it's all about the money," etc. I just think about how frustrating it must be to the legendary athletes who were as great in their day, no doubt as competitive, but nowhere near as childlike or unethical.

Hank Aaron must wonder how Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark Mcguire, Sammy Sosa, and the rest, can justify to themselves that they deserve to knock him off the career home run record. Eddie Merckx must ponder how today's cyclists sleep at night knowing that much of their success and acclaim is due to injecting synthetic drugs. If Jesse Owens was still alive, he surely would be flummoxed by present day sprinters who truly believe they earned a gold medal and/or a World Record despite a steady diet of red blood cell enhancing narcotics. And, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan, must shake their head when reminiscing about their heated rivalries which never involved a punch, a takedown, or a headbutt.

What's next? A putter into an opponent's groin on the 18th green? If the hooliganism trend in professional sports continues, that's not far fetched.

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Comments

Comments

I think you are way off the

I think you are way off the mark on your posting here. It’s a simplified look at the problem of doping in sports to say its ‘childlike and unethical athletes’ causing the problem. While its true that anyone who dopes is behaving disgracefully, but it’s just a symptom of a larger problem. Its not the isolated CAUSE of the problem.

Like here in Auburn we have a skatepark and there’s a big to do in paper about kids going there without helmet or pads all the time. “Helmets and pads aren’t cool” they say. Well, no one is over there enforcing the rules so the kids have done what they want for years and now we have big problem. Now finally the cops are writing tickets for no helmet. Whats the analogy for a pro cyclist racing the Tour? The sport has been dirty for decades (yes, back to Eddy Merckx day, who no doubt took all kinds of shit along with his competitors) – that is the fault of the organizers. So the athlete making that “moral” choice gets a little complicated when racing in a dirty sport. Here the athlete becomes a victim, just like the kid who splits his head at the skatepark..A victim of neglect by both parents and city officials.

The home run record is a valid comparison because drugged up hitters have advantage over pitchers, since pitching not so much about power as other skills. Barry Bonds numbers are artificially inflated just like his body, in comparison to Hank Aaron/Babe Ruth. However, when I see the gold medal sprinter win, I applaud them as the world’s fastest human, period. In the next breath I lament that track is dirty too. But when Marion Jones won her gold (quite certainly doping with all her circumstantial evidence), she defeated a field of 8 ladies who were quite likely all doping (in the ensuing years people like Kelli White indeed came up positive and admitted for doping).

Also your mention of Rutger Beke is irresponsible. My knowledge of his case is this: He challenged his positive test and underwent extensive medical observation and testing proved his innocence (had a certain metabolic irregularity which caused him to secrete excessive proteins after intense exercise, looking like a doping positive). His ban and penalties were repealed and name cleared completely. He shared in triathlete media interviews how much this incident hurt him personally and emotionally. At the minimum a retraction should be posted for your mentioning him in the same breath as Kraft, an admitted doper.

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