A Jeff Passan column at Yahoo! lets me in on the inside scoop that I, as a sports fan, have a moral dilemma on my hands, because now I'm so troubled by the state of it all -- all this cheating, all this lying, all these non-heroes! -- that I don't know if I even like sports anymore.
Whatever, dude. The history of organized sports is littered with cheaters and con artists and scams. I don't know why the last three years or so of all of this still strikes sportswriters in such a way that they have to jump up on the soapbox every time another athlete sauces up for the benefit of his career. But frankly I've never understood hero worship of athletes, or hoping that they're better than the average human being. The whole thing for me is similar to Deadspin and its readers going bananas every time there's a photo capturing an athlete drinking and having fun like millions of other adults. I don't get what's so amazing about that, and I don't get what's so horrifying about steroids.
It's cheating, and it's illegal, and it's a crime. And of course it should not be allowed. No one argues that. But this is the era we live in, and we can't change what has happened, or even what is happening in the present and likely the near future. Eventually, testing will catch up to what's on the market now. But it goes with what Passan is saying now, and what others have said. Testing will be hard-pressed to become as advanced as the drugs. This is a market that has been five steps ahead of the law at every turn. You can only test for what you have knowledge of, and the performance-enhancing drug industry gets that knowledge faster than its opponents do.
I do think, though, that there will come a day when the long arm of the law has its way. I don't know how long it'll last, and I don't see it being all that long, but there will be major justice at some point, and a lot of heads will roll.
Until then, I'm going to, I don't know, watch sports the same way I always have, if that's alright with everyone. In the meantime, it'd be nice if we wouldn't appoint Ryan Howard or anyone else as the savior of all that is good. Why is Ryan Howard's word better than anyone else's? I completely agree with Passan on one point: You have to suspect everyone, or no one.
But I don't agree that anyone unwilling to think that way is "living in a cocoon" where "sports are good and righteous and fair." Anyone that has ever thought that sports are good and righteous and fair probably needs to look elsewhere for people to champion. I don't expect Gary Matthews Jr. or Rafael Palmeiro or Evander Holyfield or the Pittsburgh Steelers or Barry Bonds to be any more or less perfect than my neighbor. At least Evander Holyfield's kids don't run up and down the hallway screaming bloody murder.