Free-Floating Hostility

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Why You Don't Care about Steroids in Sports

So, 60 Minutes is reporting that certain members of the Carolina Panthers took steroids before losing Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004. Meanwhile the New York Times is reporting the major league baseball's top medical advisor went to school in Guadalajara, Mexico instead of SUNY-Stony Brook, as he has claimed. The response on television and from fans seems underwhelming. People say they are tired of the steroid story, which is probably true. But that doesn't mean the media should stop reporting it.

This is a case of "eat your vegetables" in media. This story is important if only because people have a right to know on what they're spending their entertainment dollars. Further, steroids are symbolic of the shortcuts that people take to excel in American culture. And those shortcuts are trickling down into youth and prep sports and ruining people's lives. It's a real problem and certainly worthy of extended press scrutiny. Those don't want to know about 'roids are free to ignore it.

But I think are lot of those people who want who want this story to go away are fans that, by and large, don't give two shits about pro athletes. As far a fan is concerned, players exist to be cheered, booed, taunted, hit with bottles and bet upon. Maybe salary escalation and price gouging have something to do with this, but I doubt it. People attend sporting events to see people perform athletic feats. That's the way it is in the marketplace, where professional athletes are only worth the next dollar than fans will spend to see them.

7 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Form at March 30, 2005 8:37 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Wait, Mike, who are you suggesting these people (who want the steroid story to go away) care about? The steroid users who are abusing their own bodies? Are they the victims in all of this? Because then you are asking fans to care about the cheaters.

    And in case you are wondering, price gouging, arrogance, phoning it in, and salary escalation are exactly the reasons why fans dehumanize the players. Teddy Bruschi got plenty of well-wishing in New England after his stroke. That is because he plays hard and respects the fans. It is a two way street in this department.

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at March 30, 2005 9:06 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • If sports are about aesthetics, and steroids violate the trust, what about cosmetic surgery for actors.

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at March 31, 2005 10:10 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • No one's saying fans have to like the players that use steroids, but that isn't the same as caring. I believe Mike's point is that people seem not to care that the guy they root for is cheating, and sending himself to an early grave in doing so. I expected people to feel betrayed and to want a cleaner game, but a lot of people would just prefer not to know.

  •   Posted by Blogger Mike at March 31, 2005 1:27 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Dave: Those fans care about themselves and about having an arena to attend to drink beer and get angry about. I agree with Anna, that I thought people would care about how clean the game was. But people don't want to hear that story. They want to see home runs, crushing hits and open-field tackles. And they don't care if the guy on the field is going to die at 45.

    The NFL has thrived because of its short season and the perception that every game is life-and-death. The Bruschi outpouring is a one-shot deal, for a "lunchpail" guy on the team that won the championship faced with a shocking sort of illness. But with rampant obesity and the escalating of inherent violence, pro football takes decades off the lives of the people who play it. I love the sport, but that dark side is another people that fans really don't care about.

    And if people really cared about price gouging, then the Boston Red Sox would not have fans anymore.

  •   Posted by Blogger Form at March 31, 2005 3:54 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • People might want a clean game. However, wanting a clean game and being interested in the steroid story are two different things. How many Barry Bonds awkward press conferences can someone watch? Is watching Mark McGuire look totally pathetic in front of Congress captivating? Which Sports Illustrated cover is more appealing? The one about broken dreams or the new one showing Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter? Sure, you might say that this attitude is typical American hotel society nonsense. But professional sports is about entertainment. We do not want to see people torn down. If this is a public health issue, then you can report and report and report away about high school athletic programs and the like. But for the sports fan to give up the NCAA tounament to watch a bunch of people's careers go up in flames is not why people watch sports. There is enough bad stuff in all the other sections of the newspaper already.

    As for the NFL, has the players union been thwarted in their attempts to make the game safer? Are they not compensated fairly for doing what they love? Can they not walk away from the game if they do not want to be at risk, like Jim Brown, Robert Smith, and Ricky Wlliams? Did the NFL not make any changes after Korey Stringer's death? Those are the important stories to report on. Not if people freely chose an occupation with a particular sets of risk that they are well aware of at the time.

    As for price gouging, people will pay the money but get a greater right to boo if they do not get to see what they want. This is exactly what happens at Fenway. Every professional athlete implicitly agrees to this arrangement when they receive money from the public in exchange for performing in front of the public.

  •   Posted by Blogger Form at March 31, 2005 7:33 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • In case anyone did not realize it, the gooogle ads next to this pointing are awesomely funny.

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at April 01, 2005 3:27 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • They are, but not nearly as funny as the ads on the home page for bunny suits and finger sandwiches.

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