The headline on this column reflects the sentiments of youngsters who didn’t want to believe that the 1919 Chicago “Black Sox” threw the World Series for a bribe.
Say it ain’t so, Roger, Jason, Jose, Andy, et. al. And throw in Marion Jones, the un-Olympic sprinter, and a dozen or so Tour de France competitors (including the 2006 “winner,” Floyd Landis), and a few thousand people we can’t even imagine at all levels of all sports.
I recall a high school football player’s father being arrested for sharpening the bolts and hardware on his son’s helmet and equipment so that they would hurt opposing players who attempted to tackle him. Then there was the legendary Rosie Ruiz, who “won” the New York Marathon by the simple expedient of taking the subway for about 20 miles of the course. When I used to watch the trotters in the Meadowlands of New Jersey in my youth, the point was to bet on the horse we believed had the “fix” on to win. No one even vaguely believed the best horse won. (The Sopranos, like The Brotherhood in Providence, should not win all those awards because it is merely a documentary.)
Even Pete Rose, still not in the Hall of Fame, which his accomplishments easily merit, never cheated at baseball. He simply bet on it.
These are despicable people. They don’t compete, they lie. They want accolade, fame, adoration, and, yes, money for cheating. Roger Clemens is a criminal. He took illegal substances to enhance performance, and then accepted Cy Young awards and increased pay for the illegally enhanced performance. And that’s not counting the merchandise, promotional deals, and endorsements he raked in as a result of deceit and deception. He’s made tens of millions by cheating, no less than an embezzler or a guy who sells you fraudulent investments.
While it’s politically correct to blame the “system”—the club owners, the trainers, the pressure, the lack of policing—the fact is that no one forced any of these individuals to take illegal drugs or substances. They alone make the decision for themselves, alone. Plenty of people have successfully competed at the highest levels without all this crap in their systems.
Because they had talent. Because they were disciplined. Because they had standards. Imagine Mohammed Ali fighting on some kind of drug euphoria? Do you think Tom Brady is downing growth cocktails before the Patriot games?
Sandy Koufax, the greatest pitcher in the history of baseball and certainly the one with the most character, retired at the top of his career because icing his sore elbow for hours after every game wasn’t helping and his doctor predicted major damage. So he quit and got on with his life.
I can just see myself walking out on stage and lip-syncing a speech. I would expect to be stoned. I have caught a few people plagiarizing my written materials. Why do they do it? Because they have no talent, no energy, no new ideas, not any sense of ethical conduct. They steal instead of succeed.
A pox on all their houses. You can’t instill class and ethics just by providing a large paycheck or fan adoration. I have respect for you if you try honestly and fail, but not if you try to win dishonestly.
I’m afraid it is so, Joe. The devil didn’t make you do it. Greed and a lack of your own self-worth made you do it. And that’s just pitiful.
Strike three. You’re out.
© Alan Weiss 2007. All rights reserved.