The 21st Century hasn’t been kind to our sports superstars.
Heroes falling from grace is about as old as sports itself. You can go back to Shoeless Joe Jackson and forward ahead to such icons as Pete Rose, O.J. Simpson, Mike Tyson and Denny McClain. But since the turn of this century the list of superstars – I’m talking about all-time greats – who have tumbled from the pinnacle to the outhouse has happened at an alarming rate.
I was reminded of this with the end of the Roger Clemens trial for perjury. Regardless of the jury’s verdict, Clemens, considered by some as the greatest righthander in baseball history, will be viewed with disgust and shame. The century began with perhaps baseball’s greatest ever all-around player, Barry Bonds, making the same fall. Both men are now labeled as cheaters.
Then came Tiger Woods, maybe the best golfer ever, being exposed as womanizing sex addict who lived a life of lies. And the biggest fall, Penn State’s Joe Paterno, the winningest major college football coach ever and the epitome of integrity, who turned a blind eye to years of alleged sexual child abuse by a trusted colleague.
And there’s the boxing mess . . .
Anyone surprised by the latest boxing controversy has been living on another planet. When has boxing been an honest sport? That’s not to say all fights have been fixed in some way, but there have been crooked promoters and fighters taking dives around as long as the sport itself.
The real mystery is how the sport has survived and thrived to some degree this long. The only conceivable answer is man’s thirst to watch one man beat the hell out of another man and bet on who will win.
Certainly boxing isn’t has popular as it once was, but it still suckers millions of people into paying big money to watch. Latest example was last weekend’s fight in which someone named Timothy Bradley was given a split decision over one of the few name fighters remaining, Manny Pacquiao.
It’s impossible to totally clean up the sport, but one obvious step is to have judges publicly post round-by-round results. The best solution, o f course, is to ignore the sport altogether and let it die.