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article imageWhere Did Professional Sports Go Wrong?

By Dheeraj Vaswani     Aug 8, 2007 in Sports
Barry Bonds amidst the steroid controversy, Michael Vick organizing dog fights, Tim Donaghy shaving points in NBA games for the mob. Wasn't sport supposed to be our escape from these real life problems? What happened? Where did it go wrong?
July is just over a week old and it was possibly the most eventful month in North American sports history.
Barry Bonds caught and then passed the most hallowed record in sports amidst scrutiny and controversy. Public opinion has been established, Bonds is guilty. The steroid scandal surrounding Bonds has taken over the baseball world as he set his mark on baseball history. The book Game of Shadows filled us in.
Bud Selig was at a crossroads. What should he do? How should MLB react? Do they get behind Bonds amidst the controversy in his chase for 755? Do they not pay any attention to the record and pretend it wasn't taking place? Bud Selig sat on the fence for more than half the season till he finally decided, as the commissioner, it is his duty to be present whether he likes it or not.
So that was the big story in July or so we thought.
It's early July and we learn Michael Vick's house was raided in late April among accusations that he has been involved in a dog fighting ring for some time.
What? Where the heck did that come from? As the first few weeks of July passed and more information started to come out, the case against Michael Vick piled up.
On July 17, 2006 Michael Vick was indicted on dog fighting charges by the FBI. However, Vick seemed unfazed, a seemingly normal reaction from the prima donnas of sports. Could it be that he knew he was innocent and not worried? Could it be that his millions of dollars would provide him the best legal team money can buy and there is now way he can lose? Or could it be that he is just too stupid to realize the ramifications of what's going on?
Mid July, and the F.B.I. dropped another bombshell that would rock professional sports to its core. An NBA referee, Tim Donaghy with ties to the mob was under investigation of shaving points in NBA games that he refereed. I wonder if Tony Soprano had anything to do with this. Too bad Sopranos is over, this could have been one hell of an episode on the Sopranos in season 7. HBO, bring it back.
Back to Donaghy, he decided to surrender to the F.B.I. and cooperate with the investigation. Since then, he has received countless death threats (no kidding). Now who do you think is behind those threats? That's what happens when you get yourself involved with the mob. They don't play around.
What does this do to the NBA? Well it absolutely destroys its credibility. We'd always joke about stars getting the calls. I guess we were right all along; they were terrible calls, made on purpose. This will stain the NBA for years to come. Every call will be questioned and scrutinized like never before. As of right now it's just Donaghy, and supposedly no one else. What if there were others involved, other referees and possibly players? That could destroy the NBA as a league. It could seriously damage sports in general.
What happened to sports? Where did it all go wrong?
Is it the owners? They are the ones that pay these ridiculous multi-year multi-million dollar contracts. Really, what is A-Rod going to do with $25 million a year? Hey A-Rod, I can help you spend some of it. Just a million a year is all I need.
Is it the networks that pay the sports leagues hundreds of millions for the rights to broadcast? Currently, five American television networks pay a combined $3.7 billion to the NFL for the TV rights. That is insane.
Well then let's blame TV. Parents already do it, we'll just join in. How about the athlete’s themselves? Are they to blame? They make all this money, live rock star lifestyles, and marry super model wives. How can that not go to their heads? No wonder most of them are so disconnected from the real world and their fans.
So then it's the players, they're to blame. Right? Wrong.
We are to blame. Us, the fans. We pay the ticket prices and sell out the arenas that help pay for their salaries. We tune in on the networks that have them bidding so high for the rights to televise these games. We are a sports-hungry society.
What would happen if we stopped watching sports, stopped going to the games, stopped buying the apparel out of protest? But, that would never happen, because we can't live without sports. I know I couldn't. Sport is an addiction for me, and I am the biggest part of the problem.
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