August 9th, 2008 19:13 EST
The Mouthpiece: Isn't it funny?
Sounding off on sports in Blacksburg and beyond
This is a funny world we live in.
The sports world is starting to reflect that all too well.
For example, isn`t it funny that everyone forgot about the controversial firing of Willie Randolph as soon as the Mets went on a winning streak?
Isn`t it funny how Joe Paterno is interrogated about when he is leaving?
Colleges probably think it is hilarious that they spend scholarship money to bring in the best players for their basketball teams, knowing that the best will only stay for one year.
Isn`t it funny that the man who saved baseball following the strike, Mark McGwire, didn`t even get to think about booking a flight to Cooperstown this weekend?
Isn`t it funny that the Packers are now trying to pay their franchise icon to stay off the field?
Isn`t it funny that on-base percentage is in every general manager`s stat sheet, but they won`t even consider signing Barry Bonds? He happens to have the best OBP the game has ever seen.
Isn`t it funny that Jason Giambi was an All Star candidate?
Isn`t it funny that the headlining event of the WNBA brawl between the Sparks and the Shock was a male assistant coach laying a hand on Lisa Leslie?
Isn`t it funny that hit-and-run perpetrator Marshawn Lynch is in training camp? Or that Ray Lewis is one of the highest paid defensive players ever?
Michael Vick is wasting away in Kansas for being involved in a conspiracy harming dogs. I bet he laughs at it. OJ Simpson sure does.
Isn`t it funny that the President and potential future Presidents all felt the need to call Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez for performing the Heimlich maneuver?
Isn`t it funny that some kids named Rodriguez are going to have a huge child support payment to live on? The mother could probably do without if she had one shot at Madonna...or the lady in Toronto.
Giants` football fans will be laughing all the way to the mortgage office when they learn they must buy their seat as real estate, just for the right to purchase the tickets, and of course they can only use it during Giants games, even though the Jets share the stadium.
Isn`t it funny that nobody will admit that Ozzie Guillen is the best manager in baseball because he speaks his mind?
Isn`t it funny that Congress found time to investigate steroid use in baseball between trying to solve the healthcare crisis and the Iraq war? I`m sure struggling single parents and soldiers got a lot of satisfaction out of the Mitchell Report.
Isn`t it funny that Iraq`s athletes were temporarily banned from competing in the Olympics because the IOC doesn`t approve of their government?
Isn`t it funny that George Bush received complaints that he will attend the Opening Ceremonies in Beijing? Protesters will be amused by Beijing as well, as Chinese authority`s claim they will set up specific areas for protesters.
Isn`t it funny that only half of Chinese automobiles can be used on any given day, so that the country can appear less polluted for the Olympic Games?
Isn`t it funny that people cried for an Olympic boycott even after the 1936 Olympics generated a more powerful message than any spokesperson could have dreamed of?
Actually, no it really isn`t funny. "It" is politics interfering with sports. Whether it is actual, government related politics, or the politics of race, class and public opinion, they have had a tarnishing effect on the sports world, until the game starts.
Sports on the other hand, offer pure, powerful ideas for the world to behold.
The late journalist David Halberstam wrote that "sports have been an excellent window through which to monitor changes in the rest of society as we become more and more of an entertainment society. I do not know of any other venue that showcases the changes in American life and its values and the coming of the norms of entertainment more dramatically than sports."
Recently, that window has been viewed from the wrong side. I`m not saying sports should be free of all social regulation or immune from political involvement, but I am saying this:
Sports will always offer more lessons to society than society offers to sports.
Jackie Robinson, the St. Louis Cardinals and Jesse Owens displayed racial equality long before the White House.
Arthur Ashe and Magic Johnson taught America more about AIDS than any commercial or medical campaign.
Cancer is beatable. The world knows this thanks to Lance Armstrong.
Virginia Tech was a strong community before April 16th, but America stood witness on September 1st in Lane Stadium.
Those messages could be felt. They rose in every goose bump, stood up with every neck hair.
Every eye in the world can view the greatness and the ills of society through the lens that is sports.
Effectively, it only works one way. When we see our own ills in sports, looking at them more closely simply makes those harmless examples blow up in our face.
What is seen through that lens should be taken for what it is. Some recent events have been pulled out of their realistic realm and pushed into the social psyche.
For example, some would have you believe Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire cheated the game and so steroids are bad. Ok, does that make Jose Canseco an ethical journalist?
The United States are competing in the Olympics in China, so we must condone the genocides in Tibet and Darfur. My family went to San Francisco to see Barry Bonds. Not so amazingly, we are heterosexual and drug-free.
Some things don`t make sense. Skipping the Olympics or the record breaking moment of the century is among those things.
It is often said that people watch sports to idolize others who do things they could never do.
We can watch sports and know that sports are fair by nature, something the world will never be.
Society has often pulled itself up on sports, but has recently tried to pull sports down to its level.
Luckily, it only works temporarily, as nothing ever seems to tarnish the glory of a game.
Sports are and will be the masterpieces of society; you just have to look at them the right way.