What I have learned, from a moral compass standpoint, from observing sports over the years is that while in the past athletes were used as idols for children to model themselves after, that same group of people currently cannot. This isn’t to say that the athletes of today are all bad people, as a matter of fact I believe the majority of the modern athlete are more giving and caring than those that came before them. I really haven’t looked into it but I don’t think there ever was or ever will be a Ty Cobb foundation for underprivilaged youth, yet more and more of today’s athletes reach out to the communities they are a part of.
Realizing this, I asked myself, “What’s different? How come 50, or even 25 years ago athletes were who you looked up to and not now?” There are many mitigating factors to consider while trying to answer such a question, but it has come to be my belief that the athletes haven’t changed; society as a whole has. No longer can an athlete “dissapear” into a safe place where thier debauchery goes unreported, or even unseen. Every waking moment of every day is chronicled through media sources such as talk radio, television, or the internet. I’m sure if there were reporters or photographers chronicling your every move your life would play out in much the same way. This isnt’ to excuse such behavior from our public figures; but if we are to look at Mark MacGuire, for example, and demonize him for cheating baseball then shouldn’t we have the same standards for athletes that have cheated the game prior? I know that Pete Rose gets his share of gruff, but what about Gaylord Perry (who has himself admitted to cheating during his playing time)? Why are people not outraged by him being IN the hall of fame, but still be outraged by MacGuire even being considered for the hall of fame? Cheating is cheating, but in this case Perry’s unscrupulous actions weren’t constantly being brought up by media outlets. People knew he was cheating, but weren’t reminded of it 15 times in a given day.
I am indifferent to wheteher cheaters are admitted to the H.O.F. or not. The Hall is not hallowed grounds, it is a place for us to go and celebrate the history or our great sports franchises. For better or worse, the steroid era IS a part of baseballs long and somewhat tarnished history. If we forget the wrongs that were done to the sports we love, how are we to not repeat them? If we are upset at what message MacGuire’s actions have given our children, then why are we not fuming over the actions of other public figures, like the cast of the, “Jersey Shore”? Is it because we “love” our sports like we love a family member?
Maybe we need to stop “loving” sports and athletes, and just start admiring the play on the field.