Last week I wrote about the ongoing problem of performance enhancing drugs in sports (here). On Saturday, the Wall Street Journal published a wonderful op-ed article by an unnamed author that captures some of what I think I was trying to say.
The article explores the reasons people watch athletics. It suggests that while sporting events are entertainment, we need to look at what it is that causes spectators to derive entertainment value from them. The author asserts, “We watch men and women race--or pitch or bat or cycle--because the drama of humans pushing themselves to the limits of their physical gifts is compelling, and at some level admirable.”
When we move away from the natural to the chemical, it becomes more a competition of who has the best drugs. It cheapens the validity of the experience. The author suggests that the logical conclusion of this type of devaluation in any sport will drive the sport to become something akin to professional wrestling. Pro wrestling is, of course, entertaining, but on a very different level than legitimate athletics.
The conclusion the author draws from this is that “in the end, the professional leagues that get serious about keeping it clean will prosper at the expense of those that turn a blind eye to the abuse.”