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.