The World According to Me

The World According to Me is a play on one of my favorite novels, "The World According to Garp," by one of my favorite authors, John Irving. While I am not nearly the writer Irving is, I hope that my musings will offer a unique perspective on life. If nothing else, I have something to look back on when dementia kicks in.

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Location: Dallas, Texas, United States

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sports Landscape

I’ve been wondering recently whether there has been a time in the history of American sports where all of its major sports were dealing with scandal. The 1919 “Black Sox” dominated the news after throwing the World Series, CCNY rocked the college basketball world in the early 1950’s for shaving points, and fan favorite and all-time hits leader Pete “Charlie Hustle” Rose was given a lifetime ban in 1989 for betting on baseball. But, never have three of the country’s major sports (and, of course, what defines a major sport changes by era) simultaneously fallen under the dark cloud of indignity.

NFL: Football has clearly taken over as the #1 sport in America, at least outside the Nascar-crazy south. Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, perhaps the league’s most identifiable superstar was indicted this week for hosting a dog fighting ring and criminally abusing dogs, often torturing them to death. Whether you’re a card-carrying member of PETA or just a normal human being, the allegations in this case are horrifying.

MLB: Once America’s pastime, baseball has seen a revival of sorts in the past decade. This restoration is due largely to an increase in the number of runs scored per game; more specifically, the home run barrage has aided the sport’s popularity. After all, “chicks dig the long ball.” In the past five years, however, under intense scrutiny brought on primarily (and ironically) by baseball superstar-turned-author Jose Canseco, people have begun to question the validity of the increased offense. What was once called the home run era has been dubbed the steroid era. It has all come to a head this summer as Barry Bonds is assaulting Henry (Hank) Aaron’s all-time home run record. As of this writing, Bonds is one homer behind Hammerin’ Hank.

NBA: Last among the three in terms of TV ratings, the NBA is number one in the hip-hop culture. Two weeks ago the sports wires were abuzz with the news that Todd Donaghy, a thirteen-year veteran referee, was found to have accepted money from the mob to affect the point spreads in NBA games.

As I am wont to do on Sunday mornings, I relaxed on the chaise while viewing Outside the Lines, a sports version of Nightline. The panelists were asked which sport is in a more dire position and which commissioner has a more difficult job. While on the face it would appear that Roger Goodell (NFL Commissioner) and David Stern (NBA Commissioner) have the greater challenges, I believe Bud Selig (MLB Commissioner) faces the toughest task of all. It is true that dog fighting and point shaving are PR nightmares. But these are (hopefully)isolated incidents. The NFL can banish Michael Vick if it wants (and if he’s thrown in jail they won’t even have to) and the NBA can chalk this up to “one rogue referee.” But baseball’s entire structure is under attack. And Selig is virtually powerless to do anything. When Bonds breaks Aaron’s home run record, Selig is in an untenable position. If he doesn’t publicly acknowledge the accomplishment, he is presuming a man’s guilt when nothing, but a heap of circumstantial evidence, has appeared. Plus, Selig no doubt feels some culpability as he has presided over this era. If he does praise Bonds, he is tacitly approving Bonds’ use of performance-enhancing drugs. This is additionally painful for Selig because of his friendship with Henry Aaron. Perhaps the most frustrating realization is that we might never know the truth (not only with Bonds, but in terms of the widespread use of drugs) and the game’s integrity will forever be in question. For those of us who still consider baseball to be the true American pastime, this is disturbing.

Frankly, I’m upset, disgusted, and dismayed. But more than that, I’m sad. I want to think that the games I’m watching are on the up and up. Otherwise, I might as well watch the WWE. At least they admit to doing ‘roids; or it shows up in their system when they commit a double-murder/suicide.

What a summer it’s been!


Blogger Jennifer said...

Your last day as a two person household!

August 01, 2007 10:03 AM  

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