The latest chapter in Major League Baseball’s steroid series introduces Alex Rodriguez, a player so gifted that he could one day possess some of the most coveted records in the game and be considered the best hitter to ever play. Unless, of course, trumpeters of so-called false outrage succeed in applying a tag to him and others guilty of using performance enhancing drugs. In that case, the legacy of A-Rod would forever denote a cheat. As contrasting as those scenarios appear, they are both very real possibilities that are being debated right now with very real implications.
The opinions of many sportswriters and others in sports media are of a markedly complacent, lowbrow, and irresponsible perspective. They regard the use of PEDs as so commonplace throughout the game’s history that an attempt to mar a player’s legacy today must coincide with a trip to the baseball annals for marring of the game’s legends. They point out public tolerance for similar transgressions committed by professional football players and underscore the inconsistencies. They emphasize the competitiveness of the league. They sometimes like to remind us that it’s just a game.
While accurate, these arguments do not justify a culture of acceptance toward major league baseball players who decide to break the rules. If the importance of drawing lines in the sands of our collective character for the sake of preserving the simplest of values cannot be gleaned from the current state of our economy, then think only of the conflicting messages we are sending our children. Think about the tolerance we have grown to have for the disparity between what we are taught as children and how we function as adults. Believing that adults in business can perform at a high moral level and that we should be expected to do so is not a naïve concept. It is one of virtue, character, courage, and strength, the opposite of which is irresponsibility and laziness.
Where do we draw the line? At what point do we overturn our apathy for the never-ending succession of exceptions made for the sake of convenience? When and how can we avoid the influence of the sportswriters who would have us believe that breaking rules is no big deal?
I contend that we start now by expelling any major league baseball player from the league who is found guilty of using PEDs, and by striking every statistic from the record books of past players known guilty of violating any PED regulations of their era. No exceptions. Such a proposal seems exorbitant, but only because we have come to both accept and expect incessant deceit and myopia from our business community. And rest assured – baseball is far more than just a game.