"CORRUPTION" IN ATHLETICS
Dennis L. Cuddy, Ph.D.
[Note: Following up on my last article about the North American Union, NAFTA required the U.S. to open its borders to Mexican trucks in 1995. By 1999, over 2 million Mexican trucks per year were crossing the border into the U.S. However, according to a study published by Public Citizens, only 1% of these trucks are inspected. That means about 2 million Mexican trucks annually enter the U.S. uninspected. How can we take President Bush seriously when he says we're in a war on terror, but he allows millions of trucks to come into the U.S. uninspected? These trucks could contain anything from terrorists to weapons of mass destruction.]
The national news recently showed a sorrowful Marion Jones acknowledging she had taken a performance-enhancing substance to aid her ability to run. Unfortunately, her "sorrow" only developed after her court appearance and not during her years of lying about it.
Should we be surprised? Not really! The public schools for decades have taught situation ethics as a new morality, and athletes rationalize they have to use steroids because their competitors are using them. Also, don't millions of Americans still think Bill Clinton is great, even though he lied under oath in court?
Have you ever seen a "rigged" game? You may have, and not even realized it. After all, it only takes one person cheating to rig a game. I have an athletic background, but was still surprised in college when one of my classmates was found guilty of "point shaving" in basketball. This is where a person who, for example, averages ten points a game but he misses a couple of shots on purpose, and the opposing team wins by two points.
Concerning football, I remember seeing an important game on TV, and near the end of the game, a defender moved his outstretched arm at the last moment, allowing a pass to sail by into the end zone for a touchdown. This made the difference between victory and defeat.
But beyond what many would consider corruption in sports, there's what I consider official "corruption" where records are concerned. I put the word "corruption" in quotes because what I'm referring to isn't illegal, but rather grossly unfair. For example, do you really think tennis players and golfers today are better than those of the past because they win more matches or tournaments? Well, there are more matches and tournaments today, so of course they win more! Besides, tennis players and golfers of yesteryear used simple rackets and clubs, whereas today their equipment has been engineered for greater speed or distance. Does this make them better? I don't think so.
Similarly, in track and field, pole vaulters used to rely upon their speed and upper body strength. Today, though, records are set by the ability of fiberglass poles to bend and catapult the vaulters higher and higher.
In basketball, the height of the basket is ten feet, which was far above the heads of most athletes of old. Today, the "dunk" is a common occurrence even for guards, but how much talent does a dunk take? Furthermore, players today are given three points for shots beyond a certain distance, but this wasn't afforded to players decades ago. Does this mean players today who score more points are better? I don't think so.
The same is true in baseball. A big deal is made today about the new records in numbers of yearly homeruns, triples, doubles, etc. But when the season was lengthened from 154 games to 162 games, is it really fair to compare these records with those of yesteryear? Also, I remember that several decades ago many outfield fences were moved in, so is it any wonder there are more homers and groundrule doubles?
In addition, rumors about baseball being "juiced" (easier to hit faster and farther) have periodically arisen. For example, Babe Ruth's record of 60 homeruns in a year (154 games) stood for decades until Roger Maris hit 61 (in 1961, the first year with 162 games). This record also lasted for decades until 1998 when, out of the blue, 70 homeruns were hit. The next year, 65 homeruns were hit, and two years later 73 homeruns were hit. Since then (2001), no one has hit over 58 homeruns in a year. Do you think all of a sudden hitters got a lot weaker, or that pitching improved that much? I'm not accusing anyone of "juicing" the ball between 1998 and 2001, but it does make one make one wonder, doesn't it?
Dennis Laurence Cuddy, historian and political analyst, received a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (major in American History, minor in political science). Dr. Cuddy has taught at the university level, has been a political and economic risk analyst for an international consulting firm, and has been a Senior Associate with the U.S. Department of Education.
Cuddy has also testified before members of Congress on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice. Dr. Cuddy has authored or edited twenty books and booklets, and has written hundreds of articles appearing in newspapers around the nation, including The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He has been a guest on numerous radio talk shows in various parts of the country, such as ABC Radio in New York City, and he has also been a guest on the national television programs USA Today and CBS's Nightwatch.
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But beyond what many would consider corruption in sports, there's what I consider official "corruption" where records are concerned.