Bill Moyers publishes an excellent essay examining the society on steroids. Moyers appears not happy with the corruption at the core of the country. The cheating culture, as always, leaves a stench of corruption weakening all.
So what do we learn about ourselves from the Mitchell Report? That something is flowing through our veins other than red corpuscles. It turns out owners, players and the players' union were complicit in ignoring the growing use of steroids and other illegal drugs in our national pastime. But suppose our national pasttime has become our national pathology? Ours is a society on steroids, and we're as blind as baseball's owners were a decade ago.
In our drugged state, we cheer the winners in the game of wealth, the billionaires who benefit from a skewed financial system -- the losers, we kick down the stairs. We open fire hoses of cash into our political system in the name of "free speech." Television stations that refuse to cover government make fortunes selling political bromides over public airwaves. Pornography passing as advertising assaults our senses, seduces our children, and pollutes our culture. Partisan propaganda gets pumped up as news. We feed on the flamboyance of celebrities. And we actually take seriously the Elmer Gantrys who use the Christian Gospel as a guidebook to an Iowa caucus or a battle plan for the Middle East. In the face of a scandalous health care system, failing schools, and a fraudulent endless war, we are as docile as tattered scarecrows in a field of rotten tomatoes.
Moyers ties things together, as only a man of broad vision can see.
You don't get a level playing field with performance enhancing drugs, any more than you get an honest government with political action committees and bundled contributions, or a fair economy with some derivatives, hedge funds, and private equity managers taxed at rates lower than their janitors. You get a level playing field only when the fans demand it. Suppose people stopped attending games in large numbers, stopped watching on TV, stopped buying the products hyped by the icons. The leveling would happen, or baseball as a money-making business would die. It's not likely to happen. If we can't organize to stop a brutal, bloody war in Iraq, or rectify an economic system that divides us further every day, we can hardly expect collective action from baseball fans.
So what are the excuses we use to exonerate the drug-cheats:
- Everyone was doing it (corruption)
- PEDs do not work, or have not been proven scientifically (give us a break; are we going back to the sports medicine stance pre-1984 which was rejected by the athletes as capricious)
- There is no proof of doping (do we need steroid molecules dripping from the liver tumors as shrunken testicles dangle helplessly, before fans believe the game was hijacked? by PEDs)
- We love home runs ( so we cheat the fans and the game itself; and we let the athletes suffer the health consequences of steroid use as they artificially pump up the numbers for the superficial thrills)
- Sports have always cheated (mired in corruption, we cannot rise above a level of depravity, but rather invent new more powerful ways of dishonesty)
As Moyers adds:
There was a lesson in George Mitchell's report that I'm not sure even he recognized. The day Americans don't feel strongly enough about the need for level playing fields to fight for them -- the day when cutting corners and seeking an edge become the national pastime -- is the day democracy will be lucky even to find a seat in the bleachers.