Dave's Sports Views

Analysis, humor and opinion on the sports world

Location: Dallas, Texas, United States

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Today's edition of the police blotter

It's a busy day in the hard news world that is sports:
  • Two Duke University lacrosse players were charged with first-degree rape, sexual offense and kidnapping in an incident that allegedly occurred at an off-campus party on March 13. The two players are free on bond as their attorneys rail at the local authorities and proclaim their clients' innocence.
  • Stan Conte, athletic trainer for the San Francisco Giants, was subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury investigating whether Barry Bonds lied about his possible role during the BALCO steroids investigation.
  • Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden was charged with DUI after he ran a stop sign in Miami Beach. His girlfriend was charged with battery and resisting arrest stemming from an incident that night as well.
  • Penn State fined women's basketball coach Rene Portland $10,000 for violation of the school's nondiscrimination policy for her treatment of a player who wasn't feminine enough for the team.
  • Arizona minor league pitcher Angel Rocha was suspended 100 games for a second violation of baseball's steroid policy. Four other minor leaguers got 50-game bans for first offenses.
None of this stuff is sudden -- the mid-April sports lull has just pushed these stories more to the forefront. At least once a day it seems we get another tale of bad behavior from the sports world.

What's the common thread among these stories? Entitlement. Sports fans are shocked (SHOCKED!) to hear that these incidents occur. But do we ever think about what we do to perpetuate them?

We plead for winning teams and winning players, we form the audience for whom sports has evolved into a billion-dollar industry. We can't be surprised at the collateral damage caused by this phenomenon. Coaches push their players to the limits. Players push their bodies to the limits. Both groups -- and others associated with sports -- find ways to blow off steam, not always the right ways. We rarely pay attention to these things that go on behind the scenes, until they blow up into headlines.

Then after we've run our heroes through the wringer, we grant them forgiveness and root for them all over again.

This is not to say that all athletes make the misguided decisions those mentioned above might have made, nor is it to excuse any of them if they did make those decisions. It's not to say all sports fans are without ethics and soul. Hell, I'm probably the biggest hypocrite of all, sitting at my computer writing this blog because I care about sports and I have enough ego to think others might care what I have to say about them.

But we all make a bit of a Faustian bargain to be sports fans, especially in this day and age. Today was a good day for the devil.



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