Sports and government. I never thought I would have to utter those words in the same sentence. Much to my dismay, it has become a popular debate in the last three years or so, ever since Congress got involved in the steroids investigation in Major League Baseball. WHY congress thought they had the right to intervene in sports, or the responsibility to, is beyond me.
Everyone has commented on all the other issues Congress SHOULD be paying attention to, such as Iraq, health care, or just any other issue ever mentioned in the news in the past three years. Yet, that is not entirely fair, since only one committee has taken issue with sports. That committee does not have jurisdiction over all the other issues.
Yet, what is fair is considering the autocracy of sports. Sports have always solved their issues without the involvement of the government. All leagues have always encountered issues, and have solved them with the players union and gradual rule changes. Steroids would have been more of the same. The MLB had plenty of investigative powers to reveal the widespread steroids use in the 1990’s. George Mitchell, who wrote the Mitchell Report, which named over a hundred current or former MLB players in the use of steroids, was a wild witch hunt which served nothing but to tarnish the name of many players. Most of the evidence was either hearsay or unconfirmed reports. Roger Clemens will never be seen in the same light, even though only one man said he did steroids.
Yes, before you bring it up, I understand it is important to show children and such that cheating is wrong, and I do not deny that. But it is not Congress’s job to do so. The message should not be “if you cheat, and everyone else cheats, eventually the mighty hand ofthe government will fall down upon you and cause everyone to hate you and reject your accomplishments.” The emphasis for the steroid era needs to be less on “look how no one respects these guys” and more on “look how this guy got pancreatic cancer after taking steroids.”
The fact of the matter is, the fact that we know Barry Bond’s name is good enough for some people to take steroids to get famous, even if they are revealed as cheaters. It is important to emphasize the incredibly harmful effects of these drugs to your body, not your public image. After all, once you sign a 100 million dollar contract with the San Francisco Giants, you can always hire a PR rep.