John F. Russell: Pumped up games and fair play
July 8, 2007
Sports rarely impact world affairs, they will never stop global warming, and even if you’re football team wins the Super Bowl, chances are you will still be paying more than $3 for a gallon of gas next February.
Sports simply are a form of entertainment.
They fill our Sunday afternoons, give us something to talk about at work on Monday morning and, in my opinion, are the only reason to own a television set.
My wife would argue that the Food Network is reason enough to own a television, but the only way I see that happening is if Rachael Ray is playing football for the Oakland Raiders. I would love to see a safety blitz.
So why should we care if our favorite professional athletes are pumping steroids and human growth hormones into their bodies?
Bigger, faster athletes only make the games better. The baseball flies farther, the linebackers hit harder and the sprinters run faster. We all want to watch Barry Bonds send a baseball screaming over the right field fence or watch Shawne Merriman tear through an oversized offensive line en route to wiping out a wide-eyed quarterback who is running for his life.
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If that’s not entertainment, then I don’t know what it means to be entertained – and I’ve seen Wayne Newton live on stage in Las Vegas more than once.
Fans just need to come to grips with the fact that performance-enhancing drugs simply are a part of sports in today’s world. They are like referees’ bad calls, instant replay and the seemingly endless streams of commercials that plague most National Football League games.
If fans didn’t care about performance-enhancing drugs there would be no reason for suspensions or drug testing, and the athletes wouldn’t need to spend hours in press conferences to deny using performance-enhancing drugs. If they all used them it would even the playing field, so there would be no reason for words like cheater, there would be no reason to put that little asterisk next to the records and the level of play would be elevated.
We could watch athletes like Floyd Landis defend his Tour de France title, we could cheer for Bonds because he would be a bona fide American hero, and no one ever would question an athlete’s ability to play the game again.
Most sports fans will tell you that they enjoy an entertaining game, however, the good news is that we also have a strong sense of fair play. I’m happy to say that in today’s world most of us agree that performance-enhancing drugs do not meet the standards of fair play.
Bonds is expected to break Hank Aaron’s career home run record of 755. Some sports fans, including me, always will question the record and wonder if the big man cheated.
If baseball is just another form of entertainment, I guess it really doesn’t matter how Barry got to the record. But to more than a few of us, how he got there is the only thing that matters.
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