14 February 2009

A-Roid, Bar-roid, and the Collapse of Reason

From the posturing, pontificating, and punditry we've seen so far about the "steroids scandal," you'd think the country was collapsing into lawlessness. What's collpasing all about us, of course, is a sense of perspective. Let's take a reasonable look at this mess.

Professional athletes take some drugs that may or may not improve their performances. Then they lie about it. Then they get caught. Then they lie some more, or they go to great lengths to apologize and "rehabilitate" their downward-spiraling public images. The Feds run around trying to "get" the bad guys on drugs charges, or failing that, perjury and/or obstruction charges. The sporting press has a field day, excoriating their "role models" for setting a bad example for kids and for violating the supposed "integrity" of the sports they cover.

A few athletes--professionals, mind you--risk their health, their careers, and now their freedom by taking these drugs. They are the only ones being hurt. The Feds aren't being hurt. The sportswriters aren't being hurt. And for all the hyperbole, the children aren't being hurt. Sure, a handful of amateur athletes hurt themselves. But not enough to make a "crisis." Steroids and HGH and PEDs are not a danger. Teenagers have plenty of good old-fashioned dangers (like drinking and driving) to hurt themselves and others with. There may be law-breaking here, but there is no crime. That is, there is no criminal intent and no collateral damage. There's just some drugs, and some guys taking them.

I'm sure the world is a safer, freer, and better place because Marion Jones gave up her gold medals and went to jail. I'm sure when mothers tuck in their babes at night they are reassured that monsters like Barry Bonds will get what's coming to them. Floyd Landis lost a race that he won, and the starving millions rejoiced that he got his comeuppance.

Baseball, that pure and sacred American endeavor is now safe and unsullied. We can go back to the multi-million dollar ballyards and cheer again for our upright and honest heroes. We can watch "Field of Dreams" again and wallow in a nostalgia for a past that fulfills our fantasies. Meanwhile, some guys who took some drugs go to court, or to jail, or to ignominy and disgrace.

"Cheating" in sports is a problem for the sport, not for Congress. Risky behaviors by teens are a problem for parents, not the U.S. Attorney. Your body--and what you put in it--is your business. Same for those guys. If a goverment can spend millions of taxpayers dollars to go after some jocks with little or no public oversight or outrage, imagine what they can do when they go after "regular" folks who don't have high-priced lawyers and fancy publicists. And when they start to come after you for your alleged indiscretions, and threaten your privacy and your livelihood and your freedom, you'll cry out, bewildered by it all, "but I wasn't hurting anyone!" and "this is America!" and "where's my lawyer?"

But no one will be listening.

1 comment:

nancyo said...

Good one, Mark. Thank you.