I’ve touched on this subject before, but, given the new revelations regarding Jason Giambi, Barry Bonds, Marion Jones, and others, a few more remarks are in order.
Records of human achievement, in one form or another, are as old as our species. Thus, it is probably the notion that hallowed records—such as Hank Aaron’s lifetime home run total—will be eclipsed “unfairly” by Barry Bonds, who had all the benefits or modern chemistry on his side, that rankles fans the most. But, as I asked in the previous article, exactly what is “unfair”?
Aaron beat Babe Ruth’s longstanding home run record, and took several more years to do so. Was it fair that Ruth didn’t take good enough care of himself to post more homers for more years? Was it fair that Aaron had access to greatly improved sports medicine, much better overall living conditions, and the adulation of his team’s management?
Moreover, how much did Ruth benefit from his blustery personality, that took little notice of how the game of baseball was “supposed” to be played those days, whereby strategy and defense were always favored over sheer power and showmanship? How do we know that there was not a superlative hitter somewhere in the years before Ruth, who could have chosen to go for the bleachers, if that were the favored mode of the time? Thus, given the fan’s penchant these days for record-breaking offense, and the stars’ penchant for even greater fame and money, who can argue with Bonds doing whatever it takes to climb the lofty heights?
Purists will answer that ultimately they don’t care about the players, or how they might ruin themselves with these drugs, or even that they are not all that the concerned with the dubious sanctity of the records. Instead, they will focus on that convenient and all-purpose justification for so much self-righteous twaddle—the children. What kind of message does drug use among elite athletes send to our youth? Won’t young athletes follow their role models, and consume copious amounts of steroids to become super-performers and super-earners?
Perhaps, but why pick on this particular isolated issue? There are countless forms of destructive behavior that are being practiced openly by influential adults. Besides, if elite athletes are serving as role models, instead of far more worthy and appropriate people such as the kids’ own parents, then we have identified a more serious problem, and one of the many pernicious fruits of liberalism. Don’t expect this one to be solved anytime soon, since the eradication of the family and respect given to those who do not merit it is virtually the sine qua non of our modern era.
As a recovering avid sports fan, I am encouraged that ratings for many of today’s events are lower, due in no small measure to saturation, more variety on television, and simply more constructive recreational activities to pursue. Still, as the DC government is now figuring out ways to put itself more heavily into debt to support the pathetic Expos-now-Nationals, and the league comes up with amazing ways to compensate Orioles owner Peter Angelos for possible losses from new competition (imagine that in any other business!), it is clear that damping the overemphasis on sports has a long way to go. Yes, many peoples’ lives really are so empty that they passionately care about sports records.
How truly sad a lesson, in this time of nearly endless opportunities for entertainment, recreation, and self-improvement.