A Super Bowl Sunday Article to Make You Think

| February 3, 2013

Many of TAH’s readers follow sports somewhere between occasionally and religiously.  I’d put myself somewhere in that range.

So I thought I’d post this in honor of the Super Bowl Sunday – though it’s more generic than footbal-specific.

Since we follow sports, most of us also unfortunately have heard more about performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) than we probably wish we had.  And we’ve seen more than a few sports “heroes” turn out to have feet of clay, too.

A fellow named Bill Simmons has written an interesting article on the issue.  It’s one of the single best and most thought-provoking articles I’ve read on the subject recently.  You may or may not agree with Simmons – but the article, though fairly long, is IMO worth a read.

Simmons’ article can be found here.  I found it well worth the time.  YMMV.


Author’s note:  URL in link is fixed now.  Sorry about the initial error.

Category: Media, Society, Who knows

Comments (15)

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  1. Devtun says:

    Link is broken…I’ll Google for it.

  2. Hondo says:

    The URL is fixed now. Sorry ’bout that.

  3. 68W58 says:

    The author is correct that we should be cynical about what athletes do and about how the various sporting organizations have varying degrees of seriousness and responsibility in policing themselves/protecting their assets, but he is wrong that a hypothetical ESPN commentator would be fired for raising the points mentioned in the article. ESPN is like any other news organization and thrives on controversy, they fired the “cornball brother” guy for his racism, not for stirring up controversy-Stephen A. Smith constantly stirs the pot, but knows-and avoids-what is out of bounds like any good commentator.

  4. When Lance clinched the ESPY for “Most Pompous and Unapologetic Asshole” on Oprah’s show a few weeks ago, everyone ripped him to shreds, because that’s the pattern for us. The whole “innocent until proven guilty” mind-set will always be our default … until you burn us. If you burn us? Then, and only then, do we flip out. Nixon lied about Watergate; we never forgave him. Clinton lied about Lewinsky; we didn’t forgive him for years and years. Countless baseball stars lied about cheating; we barricaded them from the Hall of Fame. Lance lied about absolutely everything; we turned him from a do-good hero into a defensive pariah. We hate people who lie to our faces.

    Yeah, not so much. The media and the Democrat Party have been lying to the American public for decades. Do people hate the media? Nope, they keep believing all the bullshit propaganda they spew for the Democrat Party. Do people hate the Democrat Party? Nope, they keep electing them to power year after year after year.

    Obama has been lying to the American public since he was on the national stage. And people literally worship the asshole.

    And he mentioned Bill Clinton. That misogynist asshole has been lying since he has been in politics and do people hate him? Nope, they think his lying is “charming” and give him a pass for everything he does.

    So Simmons’ thesis is a bit flawed here.

    People don’t hate liars. People only hate liars if the liar wronged them. If people believe the liar to be improving their life somehow, they are just fine with liars.

  5. You’re on the list because our President claims to be a big sports fan but refuses to get involved, and apparently would rather see every sport go to hell over risking political capital and doing something about it.

    This right here is bullshit. There is absolutely NO reason for the government to get involved in this. NONE. Especially not the fuckup-in-chief.

    I’m losing respect for this article the more I read through it.

  6. Nothing will change. Sadly, the collective irresponsibility of some sports media members — call it “cornballbrotheritis” — ruined any rational media member’s chances to question the current environment. You don’t trust our ability to handle such a loaded subject, nor should you. We’ve ruined your trust too many times.

    Gee, sounds just like the mass media who refuse to do ANY journalistic reporting on liberals/Democrats/Obama.

    Just goes to show that the entire journalism industry is full of cowards and activists, not actual journalists with the integrity to do their jobs.

  7. I just know that athletes shouldn’t be able to have it both ways. Don’t hide behind your players unions and allow your player reps to fight against better drug testing, then flip out if Jalen Rose and I decide to have an impromptu “Who’s On Your ‘I Need To See You Pee In A Cup’ Team This Year?” podcast. Again, we have the technology now. We can protect clean players from competing against dirty ones. Why aren’t we using it? Henry Abbott’s exhaustive piece on the NBA and PEDs made a fantastic point: Why did FIFA make biological passports (the single best way to catch cheaters right now) mandatory for the 2014 World Cup, but the NBA can’t even convince its players to allow blood testing?

    It’s cute that he actually thinks unions exist for either the betterment of the game or their players.

    Union are all about power. And denying the various sports leagues to drug test is an example of their power.

    An argument can be made that it is the players unions, not the NFL, who are to blame for player injuries in the NFL. What are the unions doing to prevent injuries? Are they making sure that no NFL player is using PEDs, which could lead to stronger athletes leveling much more brutal hits on players? Nope, they most certainly are not.

  8. We need better drug testing. We need blood testing. We need biological passports. We need that stuff now. Not in three years. Not in two years. Now. I don’t even know what I am watching anymore.

    I believe we need to fix this disconnect between our private conversations and our public ones. Cheating in professional sports is an epidemic. Wondering about the reasons behind a dramatically improved performance, or a dramatically fast recovery time, shouldn’t be considered off-limits for media members. We shouldn’t feel like scumbags bringing this stuff up. It’s part of sports.

    100% agreed. And yet who is keeping us from this? Players unions and the players themselves.

  9. DaveO says:

    Sports is a business. We the fans pay shit-tons of money annually for the best slugger, fastest back, hardest hitter.

    The only reason anyone gives a damn is that high school athletes take the same stuff and die horribly, and prematurely.

    And now, UNEXPECTEDLY!(TM), we learn that football players suffer from TBI that will seriously undermine their quality of life during retirement. Shocking news at this extremely recent, heretofore unheard of knowledge. Who knew? So there’s lots of money to be made in new helmets, cowboy collars, rib vests and knee braces.

    Money blinded Penn State from going after Sandusky. Now that the former president of PSU is a higher ranking member of the Obama regime, the NCAA discovered both conscience, and inducements to punish Penn State.

    If deer antler spray repairs torn muscles, our hospitals need that stuff by the truckload. Thank you Ray Lewis for being the guinea pig for free.

  10. zedechek says:

    You know what? I really don’t care about steroids or PEDs or HGH or whatever else athletes are using. Don’t ban anything. Let them take whatever they want and go at it on the field or court. If they want to cut their lives short by using “performance enhancing drugs” so be it. How awesome would it be to see a baseball player crush a 600 foot home run against a pitcher who throws 120MPH? Or every NBA player who has the same type of build as Lebron James. Level the playing field, make everything legal, and boost my mindless entertainment value.

  11. Money blinded Penn State from going after Sandusky. Now that the former president of PSU is a higher ranking member of the Obama regime, the NCAA discovered both conscience, and inducements to punish Penn State.

    Good example of people not hating liars. ESPN had many interviews with students at the school who all were more pissed off with the school being punished than with their “hero” Joe Paterno ignoring Sandusky’s actions for years. Once again, people don’t hate liars when the liars are somehow improving their lives. In this case, Penn State students’ lives were “improved”, because they could brag about their college football team and somehow be better people, because they attend the school.

    Yet, they didn’t turn on the liars. They turned on those who exposed the liars, because now that the liars were being punished, the students themselves felt “punished”, because the poor dears could no longer claim superiority that their college football team was good.

    Plain and simple, our society’s moral compass is fucked up, and it’s not just limited to sports.

  12. Level the playing field, make everything legal,…

    But will the playing field actually be “leveled”? You’re assuming that if everyone took PEDs, then everyone will be the same. But that’s not the case. Everyone has a different physical “ceiling”. If I took PEDs, I wouldn’t become Lebron James, I’d simply become a PED-enhanced me, whatever that would be.

    So the playing field would still not be level. We would simply have the same unlevel playing field, only everyone would be on PEDs.

    And of course when they’re all suffering from the side effects of all these drugs, they’ll no doubt blame everyone but themselves. They’ll sue drug companies, blame the NBA/NFL/MLB/NHL and then the damn government will get involved to make matters worse.

    Fuck that. Test every last MF-er in every MF-ing league.

  13. Hondo says:

    zedechek: works until one of them makes it to age 65 with multiple medical problems. Then the US taxpayer (through Medicare) picks up the larger than normal medical bills for many/most of the conditions related to their substance abuse.

    And besides, most of the known PEDs are already banned as Schedule 3 substances under Federal narcotics laws. Unless the law changes, they can’t lawfully be used solely to enhance athletic performance.

    Michael in MI: seems to me as if Simmons is saying there’s blame all around here – the media, the players unions, the leagues, the players, and the public. But he seems IMO to focus mostly on why the media is unwilling to raise the issue more strongly.

    I have to give him credit for that. Because if the media doesn’t raise the issue publicly, the leagues/players/players unions certainly won’t – and the public won’t have any reason to question what’s going on.

    68W58: not sure about that, amigo. I agree with you that SAS gets close to the proverbial line. However, had the discussion Simmons suggests actually occurred, I’m guessing ESPN (or any other sports network) would have indeed fired a couple of folks – if for no other reason than to avoid a possible lawsuit.

    Speculation without proof that a famous athlete is using PEDs might land you in court for defamation – even if it turns out later you were right. Seems to me I remember Armstrong taking a few guys to court and winning for exactly that prior to his admission that he doped.

  14. Hondo Says: I have to give him credit for that. Because if the media doesn’t raise the issue publicly, the leagues/players/players unions certainly won’t – and the public won’t have any reason to question what’s going on.

    Good point. Ironically, the exact same thing can be said for the media covering politics. If the media does not raise the issue publicly of the corruption and many lies of Obama and the Democrat Party (which they don’t), the Democrats certainly won’t and the public doesn’t have any reason to question what’s going on with the Obama Administration/Democrat Party.

    Yet, you won’t see any journalist write a similar article about their failure in politics as Simmons has done about their failure in sports.

    Another reason ESPN would fire a journalist for bringing this up — in addition to the lawsuit — is access. The sports media, if it wants access to coaches and schools and athletes, has to pamper them and coddle them and not do any kind of negative reporting on them whatsoever, if they want to have access to them for interviews, stories, good honest answers, etc.

    Just like CNN did not report honestly on Saddam Hussein in order to keep access to Iraq, sports news organizations probably do the same with teams and athletes.

  15. headhuntersix says:

    So Ray “The Axe murderer” Lewis cheated, he also killed some folks as well..and thats fine because he found “god”. Yet the Patriots may or may not have filmed some shit that was perfectly legal and are still castigated on a continued basis by the talking heads on ESPN. ESPN has become waaaaay to close with everybody they report on. Even if PEDS were de-scheduled (huge waste of effort) the NCAA/NFL etc etc would still ban them. There is too much money to be made in the college and pro levels that they are a part of the game. Better living through chemistry.