Alex Rodriguez, the New York Yankee baseball player accused of using performance enhancing drugs — and later tampering with the evidence — has lost his appeal of a 211 game suspension handed down by Major League Baseball last year. The suspension was upheld, though it was reduced to 162 games, which will keep Rodriguez out of baseball next year. But not if the man himself has anything to say about it! He recently released a lengthy statement about the suspension on (of all things) his Facebook page. The statement says, in part:
I will take this fight to federal court. I am confident that when a Federal Judge reviews the entirety of the record, the hearsay testimony of a criminal whose own records demonstrate that he dealt drugs to minors, and the lack of credible evidence put forth by MLB, that the judge will find that the panel blatantly disregarded the law and facts, and will overturn the suspension.
The interesting thing about the case — well, one of the interesting things — is that Rodriguez assuredly is in denial. He may believe this nonsense, but no one else believes him any more and he is making a fool of himself by going public (on Facebook!) and threatening to spend some of the millions of dollars he will earn next year for not playing baseball to take MLB to court. The larger point here is that this is simply another instance of the people our children regard as heroes (in this case, athletes) who tell flat-out lies and when caught continue to dig the hole they are in deeper and deeper. True, one of our “heroes”occasionally tells how sorry he is and swears it won’t happen again. But few believe him, either. None seems to want to take full responsibility for his actions and I cannot recall a single athlete who came out and confessed to taking performance enhancing drugs BEFORE he was caught.
But the large issue, aside from the inability of these people to take responsibility for their actions, is the fact that these “exemplary” individuals tell lies with a straight face and that has become perfectly normal behavior. We have always known used car salesmen and politicians lie, that’s a given. But now our heroes on the athletic fields have turned into unreliable and irresponsible persons — with a few notable exceptions. Moreover, coaches sign long-term contracts and break them before the ink is dry while marriages end up in divorce before the sheets have been laundered. So much for pledges and promises. And the kids see this sort of thing all around them and especially on television day in and day out. And, like our simian cousins, we learn by imitation. Homer Simpson lies, as does his unruly son Bart. (Don’t get me started about Beavis and Butt-head.) The teenagers on the Disney Channel lie a blue streak and treat their elders with disdain. Increasingly the folks on sit-coms lie as the writers have determined that if they have the central character tell a lie the consequences can be hilarious. Or so they think. Much of what passes for humor on the tube these days is downright mean and often suggests that telling lies is perfectly acceptable behavior.
My wife has said for years that the entertainment industry is largely responsible for shaping the character of our children these days — what with their parents either divorced or working and the television increasingly becoming the baby-sitter of choice. I used to think she was exaggerating but, as is so often the case, I have come around to her way of thinking. I do think the entertainment industry, which includes professional athletics (and semi-professional athletics at the NCAA I level) are in large measure responsible for sending repeated messages to all of us that lying and cheating are perfectly normal and if we get caught in that sort of behavior we should keep digging the hole deeper or, if we must, we can just own up and all will be forgiven — or folks will just have a good belly laugh. But it must be OK. After all, everyone does it. No?