Monday, February 9, 2009


The big story in the news today was about Alex Rodriguez admitting to having used performance-enhancing drugs several years ago. If you recall my earlier post on this topic, you'll understand that I'm a bit leery about getting into this again.

To me, we - and by "we" I mean society, journalists, congress - we are not focused on the key issue. "We" are mistakenly concerned with cheating and lying and scandals and records and asterisks. 

It's true that Barry Bonds perjured himself to a grand jury and that offense constitutes a crime.

But my question is, why was Barry Bonds made to sit before a grand jury in the first place.

Baseball is a sport. Sport is entertainment. Why not leave it to baseball fans to decide whether or not to buy the product that professional baseball is offering? We vote with our pocketbooks everyday on any number of products. The Dixie Chicks suffered in album sales and radio air time for their anti-George Bush remarks. Tom Cruise is arguably punished at the box office for his occasional bizarre behavior and comments. Kobe Bryant lost tens of millions in endorsement deals due to to his indiscretions. Why then are we not capable of dealing with A-Rod?

I heard a radio interview with the author that broke the story in Sports Illustrated. Her main point was that A-Rod now must explain himself. Why? What do we expect him to say? We already know why any player takes performance-enhancing drugs - to enhance their performance, hence the term. 

Why are we not issuing subpoenas to supermodels? I understand their blemish free physiques may be the result of PhotoShop "enhancements" and plastic surgery.

Is this any different than the high school or college student pulling an all-nighter to cram for finals with the help of caffeine or No-Doze?

The part that really upsets me in all of this is the government's involvement. Does anybody remember the baseball senate hearings several years ago? What a waste of taxpayer dollars! The drug testing in which Alex Rodriguez participated was purported to be anonymous and not subject to discipline. Why then do we know the identities of so many perpetrators? Why then are these individuals being punished? True, maybe they have not been suspended by Major League Baseball. But dragging their names through the press and talk radio and forcing them to testify before congress hardly seems like a reward.

I want my government to focus on the well-being of the citizens of our country. I don't want them conducting federal investigations and televised hearings about a game. Let's assume for a moment that all of the offenders are somehow prosecuted. How do we benefit? Will America then be better off? Will it be safer? Will it be stronger? More powerful? More financially sound?

The responsibility for teaching children about the many undesirable ramifications of drug use falls to parents - not professional athletes. Charles Barkley said it best in an old Nike commercial for which he penned the script, "I'm not a role model." He has long argued that parents and teachers need to be the role models for children, NOT professional athletes. Here's an excerpt.
I think the media demands that athletes be role models because there's some jealousy involved. It's as if they say, this is a young black kid playing a game for a living and making all this money, so we're going to make it tough on him. And what they're really doing is telling kids to look up to someone they can't become, because not many people can be like we are. Kids can't be like Michael Jordan.
See Barkley's Wikipedia entry for the full details. 

Let's let the free markets decide the outcome of this debate. Assume responsibility for instilling strong values in your children. If you can't support the behavior of certain professional athletes, then don't. Don't attend games. Don't buy hats or t-shirts. And for heaven's sake, Congress, before addressing the critical issue of steroids in baseball, could you please look at things that are actually important to our sovereignty and security?

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