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Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Proper Goal

A well-reasoned article by George Will on Barry Bonds and his upcoming "achievement". He covers all the relevant bases in discussing why it is that baseball seems to be held to a higher standard than other sports, a little of their history in sports other than baseball, the difficulty in drawing the line, and the confluence of other factors in baseball that makes it difficult to detect performance enhancers, and of course the kind of circumstantial evidence that I discussed in my 2005 article on the heels of Bonds 704th homerun.

But my favorite aspect I think is the reminder that Will provides as to just why it is that performance enhancing substances are bad for the game - actually any game. I've often heard talk show hosts and read columnists that argue that players have a right to do whatever it takes to feed their family etc. etc. and who are we to judge and why should we or they care? As an antidote to that kind of thinking Will offers the following:

Athletes who are chemically propelled to victory do not merely overvalue winning, they misunderstand why winning is properly valued. Professional athletes stand at an apex of achievement, but their achievements are admirable primarily because they are the products of a lonely submission to a sustained discipline of exertion. Such submission is a manifestation of good character. The athlete's proper goal is to perform unusually well, not unnaturally well. Drugs that make sport exotic, by radical intrusions into the body, drain sport of its exemplary power by making it a display of chemistry rather than character. In fact, it becomes a display of some chemists' virtuosity and some athletes' bad character.

1 comment:

Rob said...

It's very difficult to take anything Will has to say about baseball, especially after his big wet kiss to Bud Selig three years ago ("Selig has been -- baseball is a game of inches, but this is not a close call -- the greatest commissioner").

80 years ago, the spitball was still legal, and I have every reason to believe that the players so engaged would have used PEDs had they been available. They are chased from the modern game principally because of modern anti-drug hysteria, hyperventilation that comes unattached to reason.