Thursday, February 28, 2008

Integrity in Sports

Now, more than ever, sports leagues need to find a way to restore a sense of integrity and respect in their sport. The last few years have given each major sport enough negative publicity to last them awhile. Obviously baseball has the ongoing steroids controversy, the NBA has the referee scandal, and the NFL has had a series of off the field dicipline problems in addition to what has become known as Spygate.

Where has the integrity gone in sports? How do we know who to trust anymore? In these sports, is anyone who can really make a difference going to step up and make a statement, or take some ownership in what is going on?
MLB has had an ongoing drug problem for years with steroids and HGH. This is no secret, and I won't talk about the players here because their role is obvious. They made the ultimate decision to do it. However, the coaches, owners, MLB, and the players association are just as guilty for the steroid/HGH problem in their sport, yet they sit back and watch all the players take the heat while they categorically deny everything through their lawyers and act like they are were oblivious.

Now its time for people in this sport, and sports in general, to step up and condemn this kind of thing. Take a stand and let people know you think its wrong. Sadly, that hasn't happened yet. Clemens is still allowed to come to the Astros spring training facility to be a distraction, and teams are still thinking about signing Bonds. Tony Larussa, who was arrested for a DUI during the 2007 spring training campaign, just released Scott Spezio because of his DUI arrest because "it was the right message to send for the organization". Tony LaRussa is the same guy who told his owner he would like to sign Barry Bonds. What kind of message does that send?
Astros owner Drayton McLane has taken a "No Comment" stance on the whole Roger Clemens saga. Only now, since Clemens will be a subject of a federal investigation for perjury, does McLane say they might reconsider Clemens' personal services contract pending the outcome of the investigation. This is the same McLane who authorized the trade for Miguel Tejada the day before the Mitchell Report came out. Now I don't believe the players who were on steroids should be banned for life, but I thought the timing of the Tejada trade was both interesting and intentional.
In the middle of all of this, Bud Selig gets a three year extension as commissioner. The steroids problem has been the biggest issue in baseball in a long time, and he has mismanaged or ignored it for a long time. How does he get rewarded with a three year extension? Unbelievable!
The sad thing is there are very few surpises in sports anymore. If the player you grew up watching either admitted to or got caught taking steroids, its not a surprise. You have certain players that are your favorite, and you hope they played the game the natural way, but its not shocking if they didn't. Even more sad is things will get worse unless players unions, owners, sports management, and the players speak up and take a stand whether or not its with steroids.
Who will bring back integrity into sports?

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