March 23, 2005
Baseball, McGwire strike out with steroids
Where is Mark McGwire's integrity? When asked if he
had used steroids when hitting so many home runs, his
response to a congressional committee was: "I'm
not here to talk about my past."
Potential "Hall-of-Famer" Mark McGwire appeared
before a special committee of the Congress of the United
States and did little to improve his stature as a "stand-up" person
exemplifying honesty, fair play or integrity.
We may never know all of the people associated with
baseball who encouraged and supported the violation of
the rules of fair play. However, the congressional investigation
of Major League baseball can teach us a great deal:
Baseball is on trial, but so too is American society.
The phrase "only fools pay retail" suggests
that for an increasing number of people, cutting deals
is smart business, regardless of who gets hurt. Fans
wanted to see more home runs, and baseball's decision-makers
made it happen.
Justification sounds like this: "If the 'deal'
runs on the ragged edge of integrity, so what!" Performance
needed to be enhanced, including baseball and players.
Finding the "edge" encourages the misguided
to bend, even break, rules to attract ticket buyers and
increase profits, because many embrace the idea that
winning - at all costs - is everything.
Congress has found a comfortable "target" to
accuse and humiliate.
But does contemporary American society need Congress
to regulate performance-enhancing drug use among professional
athletes? Should not baseball owners and the athletes
who take the field for them (and their fans) be capable
of competing fairly with intelligence and judgment? It
should be common knowledge that free markets - in this
case big-league baseball - must regulate themselves or
Congress is now evaluating the "junkie" traits
of baseball. Junkies exhibit a compulsive habit or obsessive
dependency. Baseball chose to provide a bigger-than-life
circus performance to satisfy stimuli-seeking fans craving
nerve-numbing activities - on the field, on the scoreboard
and even through deafening sound systems.
Yes, the excesses of a few appear to have punished
the whole of society. The congressional "indictment" of
baseball is really about the integrity and the maturity
of contemporary culture.
It's time parents turn off the television and talk with
their children - before the need for "junkie" stimulation
destroys more lives. It is time to listen and teach - with