A Crooked Path to the Top of Sports

Spirit of Competition Marred by Fights to Steroids

Stadium lights provide the Friday night luster to high school football fields around the country. Saturday mornings find blacktops filled with youthful legs eager to shoot around. Enjoying the spirit of competition, millions of youth spend their leisure time in athletics. Participation is considered a welcome distraction from an often unethical culture.

Sports have been viewed as a safe haven in a society often overpowered by the underworld dealings of drugs, violence and sex. A time-honored activity governed by rules and teamwork has seen its ethical lines become unparallel.

On-field altercations are customary, taunting is promoted and performance-enhancing drugs are widespread among many professional athletes. An NFL pro-bowl quarterback currently dawns an orange jumpsuit, and two of baseball’s greatest figures await possible perjury charges surrounding steroid use, begging the question: Do the moral principles often associated with sports still resonate amid numerous examples that prove otherwise?

“All the side-garbage takes away from the great performances we see on the field,” said Matthew Cooper, a sports reporter for the Jackson Sun. “Steroids are a huge issue throughout all sports. Baseball, track and field, and cycling have all been run into ground with their prize athletes being accused of testing positive for steroids.”

Sports in many instances provides America the mirror to a win-at-all-costs culture. Those who follow the straight path, many times never find the top. Honesty, responsibility and justice are moral values that have been diminished by some in the “spirit of competition.”

” In this era of sports, where the athlete promotes himself, ethics in sports have taken a negative turn,” said Stanley Johnson, a senior accounting major at Howard University and self-proclaimed “sports enthusiast.”

“These negative elements take away what is great about athletics,” he added.

Roger Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young award winner and two time World Series champion sat across from Congress in early February as ex-trainer Brian McNamee explained injecting steroids at the pitcher’s direction. Wearing a blue suit and red striped tie, his right pitching hand lifted, Clemens was sworn in and denied steroid allegations. Not convinced by what was told, the FBI will now open an investigation into whether Clemens perjured himself.

“Today when you go to a baseball or football game it’s the same thing as going to a professional wrestling match. You can’t trust what your eyes see,” said Brandon Flowers, a Mohonasen High School senior and brother of 2006 D.C. Improv’s Funniest College Competition winner Kris Payne. “We were taught that sports are about sportsmanship and discipline, but now it’s all about the individual,” Flowers said.

Payne noted that “the decay is not isolated to professional sports, but can be uncovered in almost every facet of life.”Michael Vick, a three-time NFL pro-bowl quarterback was sentenced to 23 months in prison for his involvement in an illegal dog-fighting operation. All time homerun leader Barry Bonds was indicted last year on perjury and obstruction of justice charges surrounding a probe of his alleged use of steroids. These larger-than-life personas have deflected attention away from on-field performances, but fans will continue to come out en masse.

“This year’s Super Bowl was the highest-rated Super Bowl in history. It shows that fans still care about the product on the field,” Cooper said. “If all the Mike Vick drama really mattered to me, I would watch WWE every week instead of [ESPN] SportsCenter.”

“In order to protect the athletic genius of a select few, we must eradicate steroid usage,” said Wesley Bullock, an associate at Jam Sport and Entertainment. “Steroids are eroding the integrity of sports at an alarming rate.”

The ethical problems in sports have not gone unnoticed, and many leagues have taken steps to help rectify the problem. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell introduced a new conduct policy, the NBA imposed a dress code and Major League Baseball has teamed with the Government Reform Committee to help end an era of steroids.