Poor Alex Rodriguez, hounded, castigated, dragged through the media mud, even brought up at President Obama’s first news conference. Then there’s the lingering Barry Bonds story, (4.33 million hits on Google). Poor Bonds who faces 10 counts of perjury and one of obstructing justice, has been the subject of investigation since 2003, for lying about taking steroids. Too bad he hit so many home runs. Then, there’s the wheels coming off the Tour de France every summer as juiced up cyclists keep getting dismissed for doping, the NFL story, the NBA, and the college sports scandals, etc.
The sports lawyer Michelle Gallen has said that the pursuit of doping athletes has turned into a modern day witch hunt. It also seems like a repellent media circus.
Here’s a modest proposal I’ve made before in one of my newsletters, not all tongue in cheek: Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a two-tier level of sports competition, one for the performance enhanced, the dopers, the other for the “straights” who reject drug use? Obviously there would be logistics problems since you’d have to test everyone; how many positive or negative tests would get you out-or in- of the “straights”? As I observed, advantages for the athletes would be clear: competitive fairness, and no pressure to risk life and liver for fear of losing fame, paycheck and endorsements-and perhaps going to jail for lying.
For the rest of us sports lovers, think of the enormous economic and social benefits: Two NFL’s two NBA’s, six baseball divisions, another Tour de France, even two world Olympics, two Wimbledons, etc. Multiply all the games in all the sports by two, and you could have: Twice as many opportunities for aspiring athletes, twice as much ad and product revenue, double the number of fans and stadiums. Then there’s the amplified media coverage, more TV sports channels, more jobs for sports writers, though a downside for lawyers and the judiciary. Who knows, it may save endangered segments of the media industry, especially advertising, newspapers and local TV.
Last but not least, a double tiered sports culture might, by enhancing economic activity, help pay off the Troubled Asset Relief Program and and some of the other economic stimuli up the sleeves of our legislators. We might even experience a rise of the S&P 500, if not the Dow Jones.