By Jonathan Danielson
In the sports world lately, if it’s not Lance Armstrong making an ass of himself on Oprah (and an even bigger ass out of all of us who ever believed him), it’s Manti Te’o displaying an equal amount of assness (or just unbelievable dumbassness) on Katie Couric, or Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens not being elected to the Hall-of-Fame, or Alex Rodriguez and Gio Gonzalez suddenly being outed as the new Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens of South Beach.
I mean, come on. How much more can the average sports fan take? With every big blockbuster trade that excites or infuriates a fan, or hilarious showing of total unsportsmanlike behavior (like Marshall Henderson during the Ole Miss/Auburn game), or sincere moments like Charles Barkley trying to do the weather during his hometown’s news broadcast, there’s a leaked document or online article how this player lied, cheated, or lied about cheating.
Don’t get me wrong, I love stories and news about sports beyond their respective fields or courts (that’s why I do this), but when every story lately is just another story about liars and cheats, it wears on you. It makes it tough to want to willingly open up a new word document and decide which allegation or controversy to tackle today. And then, even if I wrote about every allegation or controversy, I’d realize I’d only be writing the same article over and over again, only with different names and dates and locations. Writing about sports now seems like only writing about non-sports (since every controversy completely overshadows the game), and no longer feels like it’s journalism but just an elaborate Mad-Lib worksheet.
Shoot! (exclamation), he said roid-ragingly (adverb), as he jumped into his Mercedes (object), and fled (verb) the media (noun) with his fake-model (adjective) girlfriend to self-relfect (activity) on his poor choices (adjective and verb).
At least the Super Bowl this year offers a dose of healthy and positive beyond-the-field drama, what with the Harbaugh brothers coaching against one another, and Ray Lewis’s impending retirement after the game. Oh wait, Lewis’s retirement is now tainted by allegations he used Deer Spray (yes, that’s what the banned substance is called) and a 49er was recently arrested for assaulting his boyfriend during an argument over underwear. Oh wait, it’s a former 49er, and he’s not even on the team anymore, but he’s still getting brought up on media day. When does it end?
Next you know we’ll hear about how Jackie Harbaugh, the mother of the Jim and John, used illegal fertility drugs and that’s why she was able to give birth to her two sons.
Right now I’m at a crossroads on how to feel about all of this. First and foremost, spectator sports is an entertainment. We go and watch these athletes because, as fans, they entertain us. At the same time though, these athletes are more than just entertainers. When they put on a jersey with their team’s name and location on it, they are the representatives of that fan base’s state or city. In some cases, a country. By that logic, when these athletes fail, they don’t just fail themselves, but they fail the communities they represent. Remember when you were a kid and you went on a field trip and your teacher told you that if you misbehaved you would get in even more trouble than if you had just misbehaved while at school? That’s because you were representing not just yourselves on those field trips, but your teacher who took you there, and the school you came from, and your parents who raised you. Yeah, that’s a bit heavy, but that was the logic behind it, and for the most part, it rings true.
So when Lance Armstrong cheats for seven years and lies about it, he didn’t just fail himself, or the people whose lives he tried to destroy when they spoke up with the truth, he failed the country he was given the responsibility of representing. When Alex Rodriguez comes up on a list of players who took PED’s in Miami, he fails every Yankees fan who spent the money to get a jersey with the number 13 on the back (although, if you’re a Yankees fan and buying a jersey of a player in the modern era, I have no idea why you would get one that didn’t have number 2 on it). When Manti Te’o’s inspirational story turns out to be a fraud, he didn’t just get tricked (if his claims that he wasn’t in on it are true), but we all did. We all got duped, and if Te’o was in on the fraud, it’s even worse, because then the guy we believed in was the one who willingly betrayed us.
And this isn’t just isolated to a single fan either. When an athlete lies and cheats, he also damages or destroys the sense of community his or her team fosters in its surrounding areas through the people who rally around the team on a nightly basis. It destroys that sense of pride that gets shared from friend and neighbor.
It’s obviously irresponsible journalism to not cover these current and disappointing issues, but is it also too much to expect our athletes to just follow the rules, or at least not lie about it when they don’t? If so, maybe I should just give up this altogether. If I can’t trust the people who are paid to represent us in a game, why even bother with that game altogether? Maybe I should no longer care about sports and their outcomes, because in the end, the people who represent our communities through those sports will always let us down on any given timeline, no matter its length. Maybe I shouldn’t try to be a part of that community which our teams create? Maybe there is no community, and I should just stop caring altogether? Maybe that is the only way to no longer become disappointed or dissatisfied with the people who are paid to represent us?
Sigh. Probably not. When do pitchers and catchers show up for
HGH testing Spring Training again?