Is this the darkest time in sports history?

This post started out as a comment on ME’s open thread today (where he mentioned Mike Vick), but it developed into a coherent-enough thought that I figured I’d post it here. 

Last night during supper, I was watching a discussion on ESPN between Jim Rome and Stephen A. Smith about this being the darkest time in sports history.  While I haven’t been alive long enough to really know the answer (and neither have they), Smith (amazingly without shouting) made the point that it probably is.

We have performance-enhancing drugs that we can’t possibly trace, much less enforce.  One of the purported users of these drugs is about to break one of the most storied records in the most storied sport.  We have a bystander in the same sport dying on the field because of a freak accident.  We have NBA referees doing the work of the mob.  We have one of the NFL’s highest-profile players doing reprehensibly awful things to animals.

I’ve pretty much always been a sports fan, but it really wears on you to hear things like this day-in and day-out.  It must be hard to cover sports for a living these days, since you don’t know what kind of mess you’ll uncover next.  It makes me want to take up knitting, but I can’t seem to give up.

Are the problems in sports signifying bigger problems in our society, or have we missed something along the way that turned athletes (and coaches, and often fans themselves) into sociopaths who have no clue how to be reasonable human beings?  Money seems like too easy an answer, but it has to be something, right?

I don’t know if this is the darkest time in the history of sports (Gladiators and bullfighting – which is still popular, by the way – come to mind), but the current state of the sports world is not encouraging.


5 thoughts on “Is this the darkest time in sports history?

  1. I think you’re on to something here; certainly in my lifetime too (I’m 49).

    The Black Sox scandal (1919) is probably the best-known scandal but even my dad was born after that happened.

    The good news is that baseball cleaned up its act after 1919 — maybe the same thing will happen as a result of a perfect storm involving the NBA, MLB and NFL.

    Oh, and there’s a report of doping (again) at the Tour de France.

  2. It’s a crying shame that in order to watch a sport with “purity” we have to go watch 9 year olds play back yard football.

    This isn’t the first time something like this has happened, it probably won’t be the last. Between the Black Sox, Pete Rose gambling, and now Bonds, Baseball has a history of cloudy situations.

    You know how mad I’ll be if Bonds pulls a Pete Rose and confesses everything 15 years later? I won’t be a very happy person. But, hey, It doesn’t matter because Bonds won’t do that. He won’t confess because he doesn’t have the class that Rose has.

    Ouch! What does that say about Bonds when you compare him with Pete Rose and Rose ends up with class?

  3. I just read this in Rick Morrissey’s column in the Chicago Tribune:

    “We hold this truth to be self-evident: that when we watch a sporting event we expect the sweat and the emotion to be real. We expect the blood to contain red blood cells, not red food coloring. You might not know the outcome of a Harry Potter movie going in, but walking out you know that, as stunning as it might have been, someone’s death from a backfired spell wasn’t real. It was the product of the author’s wonderful imagination.”

  4. I suppose Morrissey is starting a new Declaration of Independence from sports impropriety. If so, I could get behind that. I hope the leagues get behind it before it’s too late.

  5. Look on the bright side. College sports, at least, have gone quite nicely as of late.

    More so for some of us than for others.

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