What lies beneath: The ugly truth about the sports we love
What we don't know "with certainty" won't hurt us. Right?
How else could baseball have had a steroid problem for 20 years and not gotten around to addressing it until Congress held the sport's feet to the fire in 2005?
How could I, as a 17-year-old hayseed living in the shadow of an Illinois cornfield, have joked with high school baseball teammates about Jose Canseco being on steroids in 1989, and the commissioner of the sport pledged before Congress he had no clue there was a problem until 2004?
He knew. We all knew. We saw what lied beneath, but until the steroid era was pulled from the water, gasping for its breath, we didn't express our outrage for those who cheated or the executives that enabled them.
This week, not one but two stories revealed what lies just beneath the surface.
A Sports Illustrated article exposed the Oklahoma State football program for having committed numerous infractions over a 10-year period of time, up to and including the outright payment of players and the use of female students as prostitutes to lure prized recruits.
Meanwhile, NASCAR has finally blown the whistle on a racing team for "manipulating race results," otherwise known as the same underhanded teamwork race teams have been utilizing for years. Keep in mind, Michael Waltrip's recently-disgraced race team wasn't doing anything unusual at Saturday's Federated Auto Parts 400, they just became so comfortable with the practice that they openly discussed wrecking opponents on their headsets.
Since the story broke, NASCAR drivers have been cautioning reporters not to delve too deeply into this controversy, because the American public may not like what it hears.
Well, here's the truth.
Where there is money, there will be people trying to get a piece of the action, and some of those people will use any means necessary, and they will be fortified in their pursuits by the abundance of like-minded, intergrity-lacking money grabbers. And since humanity has shown time and again that it can't police itself, the establishment and maintenance of order falls on the ruling executives. And when the executives are far more underhanded and greedy than any of the participants, that's when you get full-fledged corruption. And corruption will grow and grow like a weed, until you pull it out by its root.
Believe it or not, fans have the power to pull weeds. But we've shown a history of being satisfied with weeds as long as the garden's producing fruit.
- Steroids in baseball
- HGH in football
- Student Athletes not attending class
- Student Athletes receiving money under the table
- The Bowl System in college football
- Abused greyhounds at the dog track
- Professional cycling
We all know what lies beneath. Why must it always require an act of Congress, or an SI exclusive, or a confession on Oprah's couch to spark our outrage?
Personally, I hope no punishment comes to the Oklahoma State program.
They were just one of a hundred programs eating from the tree of evil. It simply doesn't seem fair to me that one is singled out when so many are filling their bellies.
You want to limit corruption in sports? Uproot the people responsible for having grown the tree, nurtured the tree, and who have benefited most from tree's existence, because they continue to operate on the sound belief that the paying customer is too scared of losing the product they have to acknowledge what lies beneath.
Chuck Powell, KTAR.com & ArizonaSports.com contributor