Charlie's Blog

10.25.2022

Be Your Own Hero

 A boo is a lot louder than a cheer.
LANCE ARMSTRONG

I don't follow sports anymore. I don't watch ball games or stock car races. I don't tune in the Olympics. I have no use for sports. I was not always this way. I used to love sports, but the disgrace of sports beat the love out of me.

The first things that soured me on sports were the scandals involving performance enhancing drugs. Lance Armstrong was the big one for me because he was a hero to me. But before his confession to Oprah, I had already concluded that Lance was dirty. After that, you had the steroids controversy in Major League Baseball when Jose Canseco got his revenge on the sport that turned its back on him by outing his friends in the league who were juicing. As for the NFL, I firmly believe that every player in the league is on steroids. Those scandals brought me to the most cynical statement I have ever made in my life. A winner is a cheater that never got caught.

Whenever I utter that line, those who hear it rebel against it. But they do not dispute it. In your gut, you know it is true. Sports is a spectacle of make believe heroes. It would not surprise me if it was all scripted like the male soap opera that is professional wrestling. People need to wrap their minds around the idea that their heroes are just frauds. They are not worthy of your devotion or respect.

Some people like Canseco have argued that we should go the libertarian route in sports and allow PEDs. But should any athlete be required to do catastrophic damage to their bodies and health to compete in a game? That seems too obscene for us to tolerate the same way that libertarians look like fools when asked about 7-year-olds doing crystal meth. Abolishing the laws doesn't end crime. Abolishing the rules will not end cheating either.

The reason this cheating exists is because there is big money in professional sports. I don't see anyone going to the same extremes for the sake of an amateur sport that has no money prizes. Your local softball league is probably clean. But put money in it, and that will change. Recently, two fisherman were caught putting lead weights in their catches to win the large cash prize in a fishing tournament. There are are also allegations of cheating in chess now. This is because chess tournaments pay big money now. If there is money in it, there will be cheating.

The second thing that soured me on sports was the damage from concussions. Part of me suspects that many of the concussions in football come from getting slammed way harder today by players juiced up on steroids. Other sports like hockey, MMA, and auto racing have similar damage to the brain. As someone who still endures the aftermath of head trauma, it is hard for me to watch something similar happen to someone else on the screen. This is why I can't watch the brain buster sports anymore.

The third thing that turned me against sports was watching the recent controversy surrounding the athletes kneeling during the national anthem. This began with one player who otherwise was riding the bench during the game but wanted to make a spectacle out of himself. It worked because he has made more money from not playing football than playing football. Somehow, this jerk is a hero for his fearless display on behalf of his Marxist beliefs. I have a friend who tuned it all out completely over these displays of wokeness. It is sickening to behold.

The fourth thing that makes sports sick to me is the low character and criminality of many of the athletes. As another friend told me once, if it wasn't for the NBA, we would have a lot of tall janitors. He should have gone all out and said we would have a lot of tall prison inmates. So many of these guys do drugs, beat their wives and girlfriends, and have even committed murder. None of this seems to matter as long as they make bail by game time.

The fifth thing that adds the insult to the injuries is when a team owner demands that taxpayers build him a new stadium or arena or he's leaving town. It infuriates me to watch taxpayers capitulate to this extortion only to watch it get repeated a few years later as the owner demands another new stadium.

Professional sports is utterly corrupt, but this corruption extends down to college and high school as those young athletes aspire to play in the professional leagues. I have already heard stories of steroids in high school and even middle school programs. This is sick.

Finally, there is the oldest corruption in sports which comes from the gamblers. The most famous example would be the Black Sox scandal in baseball as the players threw the World Series because the gamblers paid better than the sport. I think gambling is what ruined professional boxing, and it has certainly threatened to ruin college basketball.

All of this garbage is enough to turn me away from watching and following sports forever. But there is nothing inherently wrong or evil in sports. I don't think kids playing kickball on the playground are juicing or point shaving. That is one of the awesome things about childhood. You're not old enough to become corrupted or cynical. When it is just play, sports are wonderful. It is when it becomes serious that things go down the dark path.

I think that adults should stop watching sports and go back to playing sports. When I drive by the basketball courts, the tennis courts, and the fields in my community, they are empty. But the sports bars are always full of people watching games, fights, and races. They are watching their heroes who are not heroes at all. They should become their own heroes by actually playing sports and games or doing other activities like going for walks and hikes. They would be a lot healthier if they did this and way happier.

Be your own hero. That is the antidote to the cynicism that a winner is a cheater that never got caught. When there's no money riding on the outcome, the only person you can cheat is yourself. Becoming your own hero is fairly simple. Turn off the TV and go outside. Play sports instead of watching sports. If everyone did this, the disgrace of professional sports today would vanish.