Athletes Gone Wild

Betting refs, dog fighting QB's, steroid-taking sluggers... I'm not a big sports guy, but even I can see why this has been called a "summer of shame" for pro ball. Thinking back, it took years for baseball to win back the fans after the last strike year. If it wasn't for the home run derby between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire, MLB stadiums might still be just as full as NHL stands these days. It takes more than a slick ad campaign to gloss over a scandal. Fans have a breaking point, if you lose them you have to earn us back. The question is: what is that breaking point? Take the Michael Vick case... is this a pro athlete who screwed up, or a guy who screwed up, who just happens to play football? The problem is, Vick isn't alone. NLF players have recently been charged with everything from drunk driving to murder. At some point, the whole league pays a price. And when you're talking about salaries well into the millions of dollars, we're talking about people who really should know better (or least pay people to offer advice on how to keep out of trouble). Look, I realize we're not talking about the "Black Sox scandal" here, but refs betting on games plus players going to prison plus doping plus bad attitudes and huge salaries eventually equals no more fans. Do you care if athletes screw up... enough to stop watching or going to games? What should the leagues do to keep players out of trouble, if anything?

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Michael Vick should be banned from the NFL, but Kobe Bryant continues to play in the NBA? I'm as much of an animal lover as the next person, but I'm quite disturbed by the amount of outrage over this crime especially when compared to the reaction to crimes against other humans. Comparing Vick's actions to crimes committed during the holocaust? That's taking it way too far.
Oh and by the way, the second someone thought to utter the question "is this a race issue?" and the incessant repetition of this question in itself answers the question. In today's cultural climate, EVERYTHING is about race.

Sent by Kate Pittman | 12:57 PM | 8-30-2007

There are so many different things going on here, none of which change the fact that it will be a cold day in Saskatoon before Michael Vick steps on a football field again (for the NPR set, there's speculation that Vick might play in Canada's football league -- and they do have one - if he's not readmitted to the NFL).

Highly paid professional athletes become partners in the sports industry: as long as they, the franchine owners, TV networks, sportswear companies and anyone else along for the ride have a product they sell, they will all make money. (NHL excepted.) When kids want to be like Mike, cash registered ring and credit cards are charged. But when Mike is an animal abuser, or game-fixer, or drug user, or wife-beater, or shameless racist tightwad, the product is threatened and action will be taken to preserve value.

It's not personal (or race): it's business.

You pay me $13 million a year and subject me to the adoration and envy of a nation and I will be as clean as an obsessive-compulsive's sock dawer. Try me.

And if someone is acting up to take away part of my cut of the action, I will come down on them with fury.

Sent by Steve | 11:56 PM | 8-30-2007

I'm a 42 year old male, and I stopped 'idolizing' sports stars a long time ago. Back when I was a kid, I did look up to my favorite players and I did try to emulate them in many ways. I can't imagine being a adolecent today and trying to understand the things that pro atheletes do in sports now. No matter what the judicial system and/or the commissioners of each league does to punish the atheletes that violate the law or the policies of their leagues, it's up to the parents to pay attention to who their children are 'idolizing' and explain to them why their actions are unacceptable.

Sent by Tony Straw | 6:41 AM | 8-31-2007