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What’s Happened to Professional Sports in the U.S.?

What’s happened to professional sports in the U.S over the last few decades? Once the purest form of American pastimes, their credibility has come under attack. The actions of certain athletes, and in some cases, entire teams, have managed to invalidate some of the greatest moments in sports. They’ll do anything to win, legal or not.

In addition to the cheating by some, other rogue players have attempted to forward personal agendas, while still others have tainted their respective sports from their off-field (or off-court) antics.

PEDs

PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs) stole the show for MLB in the late 1990s. Any baseball fan born before 1991 was tuned in to the great home run race in 1998. The Cubs’ Sammy Sosa and the Cards’ Mark McGwire squared off to combine for 136 homers that year. McGwire won that battle (70-36), but it really didn’t matter. It was all a ruse.

Most fans speculated that the players were using steroids, but nobody breathed a word, hoping it wasn’t true. Had it not been for a washed-up slugger named Jose Canseco, nobody would’ve ever known for sure. Canseco needed to sell a book that he’d written (you’ll have to look that up, as I refuse to promote it). He blew the cover off the scandal which was so massive, Congress decided to involve themselves.

Through a Senate Majority Leader named George Mitchell, the MLB Commissioner Bud Selig asked for an investigation in 2006. Entitled The Mitchell Report, the investigation would end in Senate Judiciary Hearings, exposing hundreds of players.

Most, like Sosa and McGwire, were refused entrance into the Hall of Fame, despite their denial of involvement.

The Problem Continues

Although it hasn’t reached scandal-like levels again, the usage and fallout continue. There have been countless suspensions since MLB started testing for the banned substances. The Twins’ Michael Pineda bought a 60-game suspension last year, and Rockies’ hurler Justin Lawrence got 80 games just last month.

The problem doesn’t just exist in baseball. The NFL suspended 20 players for PEDs in 2019, while the NBA also suspended a handful. While the NHL has also had to deal with this problem, it doesn’t seem to be nearly as prevalent.

Other Issues

I don’t think I need to rehash the sign-stealing scandal by the Astros (and now, allegedly, the Red Sox). Those debacles make for two (consecutive) World Series championships in question. Now ex-Astros manager A.J. Hinch took questions about the scandal from MLB’s Tom Verducci. Hinch said that not only is the question of legitimacy valid but that he can’t say whether or not cheating won them a title.

Stay tuned, MLB is now investigating the Red Sox for their role in the scandal during the 2018 season. Red Sox manager, Alex Cora, has already been fired ahead of MLB’s determination.

Those Who Go Rogue

I don’t even know where to begin here. Pirates’ closer Felipe Vazquez recently admitted to having sex with a minor. Vazquez also was found to be in possession of child porn. He’s now jailed.

Pete Rose was banned from baseball for betting when he managed the Reds. Although it was huge news at the time, it now seems trivial to some of the other issues.

In 2005, a Venezuelan pitcher named Ugueth Urbina was arrested for attempted murder in Venezuela. He allegedly attacked five men with a machete, then pouring gasoline on them.

The NFL’s Adam Jones. Need I say more? This guy was a one-man crime spree.

The list goes on and on.

Domestic Violence

The Yankees’ Domingo German was suspended for 81 games this month for domestic violence. Julio Urias (Dodgers) was suspended 20 games in 2019 for DV, as was Addison Russell (40 games) of the Cubs.

For a while, domestic abuse seemed to run rampant in the NFL, and despite Commissioner Roger Goodell lengthening bans to six games for the first domestic violence incident and a lifetime ban for a second incident, the problem continues.

Personal Agendas

Players like Colin Kaepernick have helped make the fields and courts a platform for political statements. Whether or not you agree with the causes, tradition says that if you’re an American, you stand for the national anthem. Guys like Kaepernick have plenty of money and face-recognition value to further their agendas outside of the stadiums. I get it, they’re promoting awareness to a very real problem, but people go to see games to escape the world, not to immerse themselves in them.

Illicit drug use continues. Players testing positive for anything from marijuana to methamphetamine continue to make the headlines. Last year, the Arizona Diamondbacks lost a pitcher named Tyler Skaggs, after he was found dead in a motel room from an overdose.

It saddens and sickens me to see this stuff occurring on what seems to be a near-daily basis. I want real, untainted and untampered with sports to return. I want professional sports figures to be considered American heroes instead of thugs. In short, I want change.


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