In the last 24 hours Chris Perez has been arrested for possession of pot, and Josh Gordon has been suspended for testing positive for having codeine in his system that was from cough syrup prescribed by his doctor. Go back to last fall and we can add Joe Haden to the list of high profile Cleveland athletes that have had drug related off the field issues after he served a four game suspension for testing positive for Adderall in his system.
As a fan, all of these events upset me because I want my favorite teams to have their best players on the field at all times. By getting suspended these guys let their teammates down, themselves down, and whether they know it or not they let their fans down.
These events have caused outraged sports fans to take to the internet and the airwaves of talk radio to express their disappointment, anger, and downright hatred for the gladiators they’re used to cheering.
At the end of the day that’s really all they are to us fans is gladiators — gladiators fighting so we can feel better about ourselves, our city, and so we can have bragging rights. To me there’s nothing wrong with that, that’s part of what sports is. But if we’re going to cheer when Tim Couch gets hurt, when T.J. Ward takes off Jordan Shipley’s head, or when Turkey Jones drops Terry Bradshaw on his dome it’s hard to argue that we as fans really care about the well being the athletes on the field.
I, as I’m sure many other did, cringed when James Harrison knocked out Colt McCoy on Thursday Night Football. It was a violent act in a violent game, but the reality of it is if knocking Colt out of the game would have led way to a better performing quarterback taking snaps for the Brownies I’d be fine with that Harrison hit every time.
As fans we want results. Sure we love the narratives, and the emotions that go along with sports — that gives it the drama we all love. But at the end of the day we want our players to be better than the players on the opposing team.
We get bent out of shape because we want the sports we love to be “clean” and to preserve the “integrity of the game”. But do we really?
The MLB was at the height of its popularity when guys were crushing homers and mashing forearms in the 90’s juicing all along the way. Backlash followed as the MLB and the federal government spent millions of dollars trying to clean the game of steroids.
Now, steroids seem to be a thing of the past and HGH is the flavor of the month. In a few years HGH will be out of the league and something else will help athletes reach their max potential. This notion that if we can keep athletes away from “performance enhancing” substances the game will be better is just foolish. So you can’t take steroids, you can’t take HGH, but you can keep a tub of whey protein in your locker? Wouldn’t anything beneficial you put into your body be considered performance enhancing?
Joe Haden was suspended for testing positive for Adderall, the same substance thousands of parents shove down their kids throats each and every day. It’s good enough for our children, but don’t dare let our gladiators near that stuff.
Perez’s fate is still to be determined following his arrest for possession of marijuana, but I heard callers on both ESPNCleveland and 92.3 The Fan demanding the Indians get rid of Perez because you “can’t have a guy like that on your team.” Oddly enough I don’t hear fans in Detroit calling for Miguel Cabrera’s head despite his known struggles with alcohol, the most dangerous and deadliest drug of them all. Of course, Miguel Cabrera isn’t blowing games for Detroit, he’s the best hitter in the game.
I’m tired of people sitting up on their high horses saying what a person can or can not do with their bodies. If an athlete wants to take to risks associated with putting something in their body, than that’s their risk that they are willing to take. If we really cared about the athlete’s well being we wouldn’t bitch and moan about the new rules in the NFL or NBA that are meant to protect the league’s stars, we’d embrace them. And if the NFL really cared about the well being of their players they wouldn’t be pushing to expand the number of games they play.
The bottom line is we all care about the athletes when it’s convenient for us to care. Let’s all take a step off of our giant, noble stallions and stop saying what is clean and what isn’t, what’s cheating and what’s not, and what’s moral and what’s immoral.
I watch professional sports to watch the biggest, fastest, strongest athletes performing at their peak potential. I’d rather see a Usain Bolt on every performance enhancing substance you could find run a sub 9.0 second 100m dash than watch someone “clean” win the gold running closer to 10 seconds.
I want to watch the best competitors compete. And if being blazed on the mound makes them pitch better, taking Adderall gets them up and makes them focus harder, or rubbing deer antler spray on their bodies makes them heal faster then so be it.
If they aren’t hurting anyone else then it doesn’t matter a damn bit to me.