Baseball players and steroids. Track and field athletes and steroids. Regardless of which sport and its athletes happen to be in the American spotlight over the alleged or admitted use of steroids, it clearly seems that something important is lost, forgotten, or denied: Why do Americans believe that athletes should be held to a higher ethical, performance, and integrity standard than their elected officials? (or than their next door neighbor or romantic partner for that matter). When there are almost daily reminders in newspapers, books, and blogs of how politicians make lying and ‘being shady’ the norm, why do Americans expect athletes to be different? When politicians have repeatedly shown us that they are less concerned about the overall well-being of individual American lives and more concerned with their own economic and political gain (do consciously neglected levees and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina ring a bell to anyone besides me?), why do we expect athletes to forego caring about making millions of dollars from endorsements and athletic contracts that happen BECAUSE of their home runs or first place finishes across the line? If Americans are going to be upset about athletes who use steroids – at the risk of possibly hurting their own bodies later in life – to get an advantage over other athletes who may also be using performance enhancing drugs, then let’s also get upset at our government officials who tell us more significant lies that have the potential to bring real harm to us all. Could it be that creating a media blitz to fuel Americans’ upset over athletes using steroids is a smoke screen to keep us from thinking about and taking action against the bigger liars who start wars on our behalf? I believe in consistency. Only when we, as a nation – from the regular person on the street to the man or woman serving as president – operationalize integrity and honesty in our daily thinking, feeling, and behavior will it matter if athletes are using steroids. Until that day comes, hyprocrisy rules all of the playing fields.
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