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« Startling revelations | Main | ’I Am Legend’ »

December 19, 2007

Hold the Juice

Rememberthetitansdvdcover Eugene Robinson suggests that sports has produced a culture of artificial enhancement because that is what people want to see.

Meanwhile, there are improved tests for detecting steroids but not for human growth hormone, which increases muscle mass. Does anyone imagine that there is no professional athlete still using the stuff?

My point is that we, the paying customers, don't want normal-size athletes with normal abilities. We want to see supermen and superwomen performing super feats, and we're willing to pay these gladiators a fortune. Why should they disappoint us? Why should we expect them to?

Unless we have truly lost all love of pure sport, then it's hard to believe that most people really want to have leagues filled with medically inflated biceps or naturally inflated egos. Maybe we'll be tempted to make an exception if such a Hercules is on our team, but what really keeps our attention and inspires our imaginations is much more human -- the hard-working, the selfless, the underdog.

If that isn't always obvious on the sports page, it certainly is at the box office, where Hoosiers, Remember the Titans, or The Rookie will inevitably be more exciting than The Barry Bonds Story, whenever it is made.

Let's hope the pros figure that out soon.

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Sadly, Travis, I think this is a situation of our own making. (Think gladiators.) Leon Kass addressed this 3 years ago, made the same point Robinson makes. Here's a preview of the article ("The Price of Winning at Any Cost," WaPo, 2/1/04):
A snippet:
"What kind of society might we become? ... Human athletes, here mostly for our entertainment or our use, might become little more than props. We might lose sight of the difference between real and false excellence, and eventually not care. And in the process, the very ends we desire might become divorced from any idea of what is humanly superior, and therefore humanly worth seeking or admiring. Children, as President Bush noted in the State of the Union address, would be sent the wrong message: "that there are shortcuts to accomplishment and that performance is more important than character." We would become a society of spectators, and our activities mere spectacles. Worst of all, we would be in danger of turning our would-be heroes into slaves, who exist only to entertain us and whose freedom to pursue human excellence has been shackled by the need to perform -- and conform -- for our amusement and applause."


Is this evolution or are we regressing to the age of the gladiators? Makes you wonder. I see no one evolving into greater humans with integrity, morality and loving kindness for our fellow man.

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