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by S.A. Prince
Whether it’s the MLB or the NFL, every year somebody fails a drug test. Without hesitation the Court of Public Opinion mercilessly crushes these offenders. You often hear things like the following:
“How could somebody waste their talent like that?”
“They deserve to be kicked out of the league.”
The public’s rhetoric along with the league’s levied suspensions, falls upon the offenders like flaming arrows an invading army. The two latest offenders are wideout Josh Gordon (formerly of the Cleveland Browns) and Miami Marlin’s second baseman, Dee Gordon.
Why do we care about Dee Gordon, Josh Gordon (no relation), or any other players who fail drug tests? Are we really trying to help these athletes who abuse substances, the abuse of which undoubtedly speaks to a deeper problem? I don’t think so.
Professional sports is a business. The professional leagues are more concerned with upholding the perceived image and integrity of the game, rather than rehabilitating their players. The NFL, MLB, and other leagues focus is on branding. Players are a replaceable cog. One wears down and we replace it. The machine (aka the league) must continue to operate efficiently.
Let’s take Pete Rose. Pete Rose was a legendary baseball player and manager who was caught betting on baseball games. As a result, in 1989 Pete Rose was banned from the game of baseball. He’ll probably never be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
If Major League Baseball cared about Pete Rose as a person, would they have just banned him, or would they have tried to get him help?
Look, I get it.
The professional leagues’ job is to protect their product, not the player. The fans don’t care about the player either, they care about the team (This is different for the NBA).
But what I don’t get is: Why do the leagues and their fans act like they care about the players?
The fans get mad like they’re concerned about the welfare of these players, like they’d be willing to help players get the treatment they need. Truth be told, fans are only concerned with championships. Anything fans say related to players is typically empty rhetoric wrapped in envy.
And the leagues definitely don’t care about their players like they let on. It is the job of the player’s union to protect the players, but it would be nice if the professional leagues’ stopped “putting on” like they too care about the player.