What lies beneath: The ugly truth about the sports we love

Sep 10, 2013, 9:59 PM | Updated: 10:00 pm

As sports fans, we’re not stupid. But we sure do enjoy the cool comfort of being kept in the dark.

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.

Arizona State Football

Arizona State wide receiver Javen Jacobs during 2023 spring ball in Tempe, Arizona. (Sun Devil Athl...
Jake Anderson

ASU’s pass-catcher competition includes ‘deep wideout and tight end positions’

The Arizona State Sun Devils have a plethora of talent on the offensive side of the football when it comes to pass catchers.
4 days ago
Arizona State true freshman quarterback Jaden Rashada gives the "forks up" after a spring ball prac...
Jake Anderson

Arizona State’s QB battle heats up after 1st week of spring ball with Jaden Rashada

There are six on the roster, half of which are returners, while two are transfers and one is freshman five-star dual-threat QB Jaden Rashada.
7 days ago
Arizona State defensive back Chris Edmonds, celebrates his pass interception with linebacker Will S...
Jake Anderson

Communication is key for Arizona State’s new defense early on in spring ball

Communication is key in defense, especially in the modern era of college football where offenses are running quick-tempo, hurry-up offenses.
9 days ago
Arizona State University president Michael Crow interviews with Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona'...
Kevin Zimmerman

ASU, Arizona presidents: Not preparing to leave for Big 12

The presidents of Arizona State University and the University of Arizona went on the record reaffirming their commitment to the Pac-12.
10 days ago
Kenny Dillingham. (Twitter Photo/@ASUFootball)...
Jake Anderson

Kenny Dillingham instills ‘just compete’ philosophy on Day 1 of ASU spring ball

The first day of spring ball for ASU with new head coach Kenny Dillingham had a vastly different vibe than previous regimes.
11 days ago
Quarterback Trenton Bourguet #16 of the Arizona State Sun Devils throws a pass during the second ha...
Kellan Olson

ASU QB Trenton Bourguet far more healthy in 2023 after 2-year foot issues

ASU's spring starter at quarterback will be able to utilize his skill set in a way he hasn't been physically able to since training camp of 2021.
12 days ago
What lies beneath: The ugly truth about the sports we love