The Smear that Was

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Here's a novel New Year's resolution for all the athletes and their coaches out there, amateur and professional, young and old:

Stop cheating in 2008.

Stop your carousing, your gun-toting, your criminal life off the field.

Stop trying to fool referees, stop taking "recreational" drugs and stop bulking up on steroids and growth hormones.

In short, learn from 2007 -- the most scandalized, say-it-ain't-so year in sporting history.

There was National Basketball Association referee Tim Donaghy, who made at least $30,000 by illegally passing on inside information to bookies, and even gambled on games himself while making calls that may have influenced the point spreads in games.

There was tearful track star Marion Jones admitting she took banned substances, and being stripped of her ill-gotten Olympic medals.

There was Michael Vick. There was Barry Bonds and baseball's damning Mitchell report. There was 2006 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis being stripped of his title for alleged doping. There was Adam "Pacman" Jones and other professional football players being suspended for run-ins with police. Even the Super Bowl hopeful New England Patriots were caught videotaping the other team's signals in the first game of the season.

The list goes on and on and on. Remember all the corporate scandals a couple years ago? Well, 2007 was the sporting world's Year of Enron. A lot of great and upstanding young athletes were smeared by their cheating colleagues.

This is what happens when a society places too much emphasis on winning, and not enough on integrity -- when high-paid young men and women see all that cash in their hands and none of the responsibility.

Former NBA star Charles Barkley once famously argued that sports heroes aren't role models. He couldn't possibly be more wrong if he sat up all night and obsessed about it. Little boys and girls follow these people's work closely and look up to them. And they model the athletes' behaviors, for good or ill.

Indeed, adult athletes' trash-talking -- first made cute and cuddly by Muhammad Ali -- pervades even grade school and sandlot sports today. And the do-anything-to-win mentality filters down to even high school: Few in the Augusta area will ever forget Lakeside High School football coach Jody Grooms' blatantly underhanded attempt to illegally insert a player from the sidelines down field during a play this season. Greenbrier High, too, was found to have been using ineligible players.

Cheating has always been with us. It's just that with all the money floating around in sports, and all the pressure to win, players increasingly have looked to any advantage they can get -- and in many cases, teams and owners have looked the other way, even as technology has improved the cheating.

May 2008 be the year that character trumps both greed and technology, and counts the most in sports.

That just might be the comeback of the year.

Comments (7)

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patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 01/02/08 - 05:33 am
0
0

Anyone that idolizes pro

Anyone that idolizes pro actors, pro singers, or pro athletes for anything but their entertainment skills is on the wrong track. None of these jobs have anything to do with integrity or honor. They have to do with income as a result of entertainment. Putting professional entertainers up on a pedestal couldn't be more wrong if you sat up all night obsessing about it. There are a lot of honorable people to idolize in this world, but they're not flashy enough to get the coverage of entertainers. Still, if one looks, one can find a lot to admire about a lot of people. Some professional entertainers are admirable people, but the media usually ignores them.

dani
12
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dani 01/02/08 - 09:04 am
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Well said Retired. I'm not

Well said Retired. I'm not so sure though that the steroid matter is over blown. Steroid use is a serious health factor.

Eric
0
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Eric 01/02/08 - 10:17 am
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Retired. One thing you stated

Retired. One thing you stated is totally incorrect. "Nothing illegal was done." Sorry bud. Go to this link http://files.mlb.com/mitchrpt.pdf and read the report. The possession of steroids or distribution without a valid prescription is illegal because they are a controlled substance. Page 99, at the end, is just one example of things that were illegal. Here's the exerpt: "Perez explained that during his time as a bullpen catcher for the Florida Marlins, between 1998 until 2001, two players asked if he could obtain steroids for them. After he was successful in doing so, word spread and he became a source for players to acquire steroids and other drugs." Sounds illegal to me. That is just one of many examples.

NotyourDadsBuick
1
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NotyourDadsBuick 01/02/08 - 11:18 am
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I'm casting my ballot with PT

I'm casting my ballot with PT on this one.

anotherthought
0
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anotherthought 01/02/08 - 11:42 am
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0

A lot of what I saw in the

A lot of what I saw in the Mitchell report was done before MLB banned the substances which would mean they were legal at the time. My problem with some sports today is the amount of money the athletes are paid. They are getting paid millions of dollars to play a kid's game. Pay should be based on performance and not because the person thinks they are better than the rest and the team owners think they can make more money if they players are on their team.

Farful
7
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Farful 01/02/08 - 12:05 pm
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must have been a slow news

must have been a slow news day

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 01/02/08 - 02:15 pm
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Retired Army, I don't see

Retired Army, I don't see where we disagree that much on this subject. It's not the fact pro athletes are in the entertainment business that makes them role models (as this article suggests) but that they are hard working, goal oriented individuals with high morals. As I said, they're not the ones that get the media coverage, what ever the endeavor.

grouse
1586
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grouse 01/02/08 - 02:18 pm
0
0

Jody Grooms was heard telling

Unpublished

Jody Grooms was heard telling kids who were in in-house suspension that they "were a bunch of losers." Talk about calling the pot calling the kettle black. He should have been fired.

Riverman1
70698
Points
Riverman1 01/02/08 - 04:56 pm
0
0

Grouse, is your kid in

Grouse, is your kid in in-house suspension again?

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