Friday, August 24, 2012

Jealousy and corruption determining factors in deciding fate of accused athletes

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

Cheating and accusations of cheating have been around sports for as long as sports have been played.

Scandals have been around seemingly forever.

Two factors seem to be at play in the dirt-digging, mud-slinging chaos that follows each scandalous event. First, is the notoriety of the accused. Second, is the over-proliferation of news media and the tens-of-thousands of self-proclaimed "news" sources.

Can you imagine what would happen if the Chicago Black Sox scandal happened in the 21st century? The feeding frenzy by media and pseudo-media would probably cause Internet overload.

Granted, such incidents are indeed newsworthy. When one, or more, high-profile athletes are involved it makes the situation even more "exciting" for both the media and public.

It was announced this week that Lance Armstrong, one of the greatest athletes of our time, was to be stripped of his seven Tour De France titles after dropping his fight against "doping" charges made against him.

I will be the first to proclaim that cheating in sports should not be tolerated. I am not aware, though, of any proof that exists against Armstrong. Just lots of accusations.

It is said that "strong men breed strong enemies." I cannot help but wonder how many of Armstrong's accusers are people who somehow felt snubbed by him at one time. How many are just jealous of his success? If I remember correctly, the bulk of the initial accusations against him came from the French. I'm sorry but the French people and their government do not exactly have a strong track record for supporting anything American.

The bottom line is that Lance Armstrong did win seven, count them seven, Tour de France titles. Nothing can change that.

He has undoubtedly rubbed a number of people the wrong way over the years. Does that make him any less of a champion cyclist? I think not.

It is no different with Pete Rose, in-arguably one of the greatest men to ever put on a baseball uniform. Of all baseball records, Rose's accomplishments on the field remain the least likely to ever  be surpassed. I believe that Cal Ripken's record for most consecutive games played is the only record less likely to be broken.

Rose's indiscretions regarding his gambling addiction are well-documented. Nothing that he did off the field can ever erase what the man did on the field. Nothing that anyone, baseball commissioner to baseball writer to president, can ever say, "well, that just did not happen."

Pete Rose is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame because too many people do not like him. Isn't that a pretty stupid reason to keep him out of Cooperstown?

The recent Ohio State football autographs and memorabilia for tattoos scandal is still fresh in everyone's mind.

What comes to mind with that, and also to a certain extent with most every scandal, is that the righteous accusers are often more corrupt than the accused. They just make the rules such that they are safe from retribution. They also have billions of dollars at their disposal with which they can bury anyone who dares to make waves.

The governing bodies for many of these sports organizations perform in a highly-questionable manner. Their ultimate objective ... money. If they must throw a player, a coach or an institution under the bus in order to insure cash flow, it is considered a small price to pay.

Unfortunately, I see those trends that have been seen in professional and, in particular, college sports for decades have filtered to the high school level. The almighty dollar has usurped sportsmanship and love of the game as the driving force behind our kids playing in high school sports.

Sports of all kinds are - a game. Pure and simple.

Maybe it is time to completely dismantle the governing organizations for sports, from high school to pros, and just start over. 

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