Have you seen the Southwest Airlines commercials with the young salesman facing scrutiny for using "productivity enhancers", because he has had such great success?
I know it is supposed to be a joke, a goof on the steroid controversy, but it got me thinking.
I watched a depressing amount of ESPN's coverage of the congressional hearing on steroids etc. I endured the Connecticut Republican's inability to say Black Sox, making it Black Hawks. I laughed as Donald Fehr eloquently pointed out that George Mitchell's report was the work of a "management lawyer", which, of course, is exactly correct. And no matter what he says, Bud Selig reminds me of a snake speaking with a forked tongue.
But I must tell you, this whole steroid deal doesn't upset me all that much. People act like major league sports are some bastion of all that's good about sports and honest competition. Was that ever true? When?
One of my fondest memories of the San Francisco years was journalist Charles McCabe, a crusty three times a week columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. His thought was that professional sports were entertainment, not sports, and that they should be forced to pay for the advertisements that ran in the sports page. Yes, others called those news stories, but McCabe said they weren't anything but advertisements.
Yes, I agree with McCabe. Major league sports have been more entertainment than real sports for years. Ever since the television execs started determining starting times of games. Ever since the advent of the designated hitter rule. Ever since the NBA unilaterally changed what traveling means, even though the official rules bear no relationship to what the refs actually call. Feel free to add your own instance of disillusionment with modern pro sports.
And let's look at productivity enhancers. What does that cover?
I apologize in advance for this reference, but clearly, all forms of plastic surgery are productivity enhancers, with breast enlargement clearly the most noticeable. What would the television and movie business be like without these enhancers?
I certainly think all musicians should be tested for the possible use of enhancers. We wouldn't have to put up with groups like the Grateful Dead, who openly used productivity enhancers. And jazz fans wouldn't have to endure 20 minute improvs by their favorite musician.
And think of how many people use caffeine as a productivity enhancer.
And don't give me that "it's against the law" bit. Not all that long ago heroin and cocaine were not only legal, but touted for health benefits. Tobacco, a drug with no possible positive use, a drug that when used as marketed, kills the user, is legal. Laws are too often written for the benefit of those who have the money and power.
Now, I know that steroids are against the rules of major sports, although the vast majority of the Mitchell Reports' accusations are from times before they were against the rules of MLB. Well, actually, there was no punishment even if there were weak rules on the books.
And I don't buy for a second that "role model" line they keep spouting. Nobody with a lick of common sense looks to any pro athlete or any other entertainer as a role model.
Can anybody imagine telling their child that they should grow up to be Roger Clemens or Britney Spears? And, trust me, as long as professional athletes earn more in a day than most teachers make in a year, there will be no shortage of people willing to do permanent damage to their bodies, in an effort to be one of the lucky ones to cash in on our fascination with kids' games.
I just think we should discuss all enhancers, not just the ones used by pro athletes.