Thursday

Sports stars: You're accountable to me, and my kid.

Sure sports folk, do what you want,
we um...we CAN see you, you know?
Someone pull the plug.

End this madness. 

Give my son someone to look up to as he tries to find a roll model on ESPN. “Daddy, did Tiger Woods kill somebody?”. “Of course not buddy you must be thinking of O.J Simpson....or...former Super Bowl MVP Ray Lewis, perhaps you have him confused with Jason Williams from the New Jersey Nets..um, yes son Tiger probably killed someone.” 

Having watched sports as well as The Discovery Channel over the last 20 years it is not difficult to believe tigers are capable of killing, perhaps more than just gazelles.

When did this madness begin, this glorification of demons, this infidelity turned innocuous, drug use turned commonplace? 

When will I have a media machine that will help me explain to my kids that cheating on mommy is not cool? 

Where is Mohammed Ali when you need to explain how going to jail is sometimes necessary, not just something that will cost you a few million dollars when it is time to re-negotiate your contract?

In 1967 Mohammed Ali famously declared, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong..They never called me nigger”. He was consequently stripped of his title, banned from boxing, and vilified. It was a truly reprehensible affair, with the press treating this man like Satan rather than a man of conscience. 

Since then there has been a steady stream of professional athletes guilty of, on their best day, moral turpitude, drug use and general jackassness while the media and their respective sporting organizations have turned a blind eye to this despicable behavior. An hypocrisy that has once again reared it’s ugly head with the actions most recently of Tiger Woods and John Terry.

When did this double standard begin and more importantly when will it end?

In my life, I believe I witnessed the beginning of the end in 1991, the summer and autumn of my discontent. PeeWee Herman was arrested for masturbating in an adult theatre in the late hours of the night. Magic Johnson, 5 time NBA champion and LA Laker great, shocked the world with the announcement that he had tested positive for the HIV virus. 

PeeWee Herman lost everything, while Magic Johnson was named to The Presidential Council on AIDS. George H.W. Bush famously remarked,"For me, Magic is a hero, a hero for anyone who loves sports."
The beginning of the end. 

A man who contracted a then fatal disease cheating on his wife and jeopardizing the life of his unborn child a hero, while a man practicing the safest sex lost upwards of 50 million dollars?

From that moment on the world has been treated to an onslaught of sex and drug scandals in the land of sport, rarely resulting in anything but a slap on the wrist and a forgive and forget attitude from the media and fans of these giants. 

I guess I shouldn’t expect media condemnation when the media includes people like Marv Albert.

Albert an NBA and New York Knicks commentator had his own issues in 1997 when he was tried and convicted for biting a woman on the ass during an extramarital affair that included his proclivity toward cross-dressing. Despite losing his job at the time Marv Albert can still be seen and heard on NBC working  Christmas Day NBA games as a commentator.

For anyone who has seen the recent documentary Tyson, it will come as no surprise that Mike Tyson is a good boxer and if the media had there way a slightly confused man. Slightly confused? A convicted rapist and famous ear biter (twice) is just misunderstood if it means a big money fight on HBO.

Basketball seems to bring out the best in everyone. Michael Jordan, the best player of all time, was embroiled in a number of sex scandals. I would elaborate but because he was Michael Jordan I don’t even remember these. No one with such skills could ever be held accountable for his actions and since the media deemed this forgettable behavior I will choose to forget it.  Kobe Bryant on the other hand is a rapist, I mean defending champion and MVP, no rapist. 

I get so confused.

While this behavior and wink-wink mentality with the press is certainly an international affair it seems the USA just does it best. Their national pastime, baseball, has been haunted over the years with allegations of drug use. Not fun drug use, though cocaine ran rampant through the professional ranks in years past, but performance enhancing drugs that have seen its most celebrated achievers breaking records of yore while juicing themselves up with steroids. Mark McGuire, who first broke Roger Maris’ record for home runs in a single season recently “apologized” for his drug use though did so while the media was tearing Tiger Woods apart and the spotlight was focused elsewhere.

And yes the media and news outlets did have some fun with Mr. Woods but he will be welcomed back with open arms. He sells newspapers, Buicks, and Gatorade. 

Additionally he has said the three magic words that make everything okay or a minor infraction at worst: “Sorry”, “God” and “Therapy”.

Brendan Byrne, is a freelance writer, and impossible mix of sycophant and misanthrope. He truly is horrible,  if he walks into your city/town grab the pitchforks and torches. Until then, he will drink rather than monetize his blog, and tempt us with his "past the deadline angst" we trust he could have finished two days earlier. He hates himself for living with a French woman, and is a confirmed serial monogamist, but loves it when women contact him at theflask@gmail.com

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