League Baseball-- Congressional hearings, chemical steroids, political steroids, moral steroids,
Mark McGuire, Curt Schilling, Jose Canseco, and so-on.
In baseball, as in life, too few of us (i.e., we, not just they)
live up the the standards we want for those who serve (wittingly or not) as "role models"
for our children. Some of us try harder than others, but all of us fail. Some famous
athletes (and most "celebrities") complain that it's "not fair" to demand that
they behave as "role models." Life's not fair, and such complaint falls like a
whimpering whisper on the drums of my hears hardened by the roar of self-indulgent, narcissistic
Too few great athletes exhibit great moral responsibility on a par with their athletic
prowess. For me, Cal Ripken represents the Gold Standard. If there are "moral
steroids," he must have taken them. We can't expect everyone to be "Cal Ripken,"
but we can expect, and should demand (as consumers) that those to whose athletic prowess or
celebrity status we pay financial homage are at least trying not to offend our values.
Are there many who fail to sink to the lowest standards? Of course. It's unjustifiable
to imply that "most" baseball players (or most professional athletes) use steroids, commit
crimes, or behave in other forms of patently offensive conduct. However, it is fair to judge
the rest by how, and to what extent, they use their own celebrity to combat the abuses by others of
the privileges celebrity brings.
Everyone hates lawyers (of which I am one)-- what everyone really does is hate everyone else's
lawyer but not his own. (This is only a mild exaggeration.) I concede also that in too
many respects on too many occasions, some us who occasionally achieve a platform larger than an
individual case behave in ways that deserve reprobation rather than approbation. However (this
may shock you), among all the "self-governing" professions, the legal profession is
light-years ahead of the others. What makes the system work is that the vast majority of
lawyers understand that one of the ways that good men (calm down PC people-- I mean "men"
in the sense of "mankind" or, if you insist "humankind.") distinguish themselves
from bad men is by their willingness to separate themselves from the bad. In the legal
profession, it's called "disbarment."
If professional sports want to regain public respect (and there's doubt they would prefer that over
profits-- and I'm no anti-capitalist), then those who value such respect must begin separating
themselves from those who lack such values. So what if the short-term consequences are a worse
season. Would it be a challenge? Was it a challenge to storm the beaches at
Normandy? Is anything that's really worth doing not a challenge?
Paradoxically, the congressional hearing today reminds one that politicians as a group tend as much
as, if not more than, other groups to fall far below the standards of behavior they so pontifically
demand of others. Yet an important function of politicians is to use "the bully
pulpit" in the arena of public morality. I must concede that listening to Henry Waxman
produces such a strong gag reflex that it requires extraordinary self-discipline to concede the rare
occasions (like a broken clock twice a day) when what he says is at least partly right (or at least
not patently ridiculous). Yet the real solution is not within the grasp or power of
What's the real solution to such problems? The problem is not solely in "them"--
it's in us. Until we as a society begin refusing to pay financial homage to
those who offend our standards (i.e., until we stop automatically watching their games, going
to their movies, listening to their music, etc.), all the regulation in the world will do
nothing more than change the location through which the bad behavior will seep through the capillary
effects of economic power. That we as consumers demand higher standards by refusing to
patronize those who offend such standards is necessary to stiffen the spines of those who are in a
position to cull the bad from the good.
Wrenn, Editor at PoliSat.Com.
17, 2005 #01 Daily Update at PoliSat.Com,
where satire is always
commentary, but commentary
isn't always satire.
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