The smelly armpit of modern sport

My, my, my... Doesn't something stink in the state of sport, then? The Olympics are a hotbed of bribery and corruption, cricket is full of bribery and dodgy payments, the AIS is being revealed as a breeding ground for destroyed and anorexic ex-sportspeople, while "athletes" are drugged to the eyeballs... all preceded by a corporate battle that brought Rugby League to the brink of destruction.

I used to think the ARL vs. Super League battle was a travesty of the sporting spirit, but like many others I hadn't seen anything yet. The idea that the game would be decimated just because someone wasn't making enough money left a bitter taste in my mouth. But it wasn't quite so bad as realising once and for all that the Olympics have nothing to do with sport - it's all sponsorship, deals behind closed doors plus lots of bribes and kickbacks. If the athletes were at least honest enough to compete on their own merits it would perhaps have some sort of attraction, but it's painfully obvious that more athletes are on steroids than not.

It's sad really. I suppose there's got to be a limit to how fast a human can run, how far they can throw. Hence times are measured to thousands of seconds, distances down to centimetres; the smallest improvement is enough - a new record is set. But that means athletes have to be really really good to win... and that takes a lot of work. Then of course even hard work may not be enough, so out come the tablets and syringes. Easier to cheat than work or accept that you're not going to conquer the sporting world.

Well guess what, 'roid ragers? It's just not sport, and people are sick of it. They don't want to watch it, kids don't have anything to look up to. You don't become a role model by shooting up instead of working out. You don't make a global tradition by bribing judges and making deals. You can't say the Olympic Rings™ are an internation icon of sportsmanship and triumph when news of the new torch was sold to the highest bidder (it's not that anyone gives a shit about seeing the torch a day late, it's the fact that news was suppressed and sold to just one outlet).

So maybe we'll end up with the sports that sci-fi writers and computer game engineers have envisioned: "Rollerball", "The Running Man", "One Must Fall". We'll end up accepting the ludicrous incomes of the players, because they'll probably be killed before they can enjoy it or they'll be robots anyway. Or maybe it'll go back to a local level - lower average sporting prowess, less money, more pride. Whatever happens, something has to give. I don't believe that people want animated signs superimposed over the telecast of their favorite sport, I don't think they'll keep using athletes as role models if they keep testing positive to perks.

But maybe that's giving people too much credit.

1999.03.02

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