As “sports bloggers,” we’re required to have opinions on the latest PED scandal, a wayward college football star and soccer, right?
Well, here you go, although it’s probably nothing you haven’t read before. Come to think of it, maybe that’s the more interesting topic – how there are so many opinions floating around about everything, the vast majority of which are unimaginative or unnecessarily loud.
Of course, that problem is hardly confined to sports – Hollywood seems to be adrift with sequels and franchises and retreads to the point that television has become the more interesting and creative medium. Politics are probably similar. Then again, is this a problem, per se? Repetition is bound to happen when there are so many hours and inches to fill. And self-publishing has become easy and free thanks to social media. Now, everybody has a megaphone and there simply aren’t that many different ways to look at the latest Alex Rodriquez situation. (Heaven forbid we just listen to a conversation if we don’t have anything genuinely insightful – or at least entertaining – to add.)
That said, the news of this week – Rodriquez and Manziel in trouble, and Clint Dempsey on the move – seems more interesting than most. Here are my stupid two cents.
With Rodriquez, I’m curious to find out his line of thinking – and we know there was one; he’s far too image conscious to play dumb. Why cheat again after getting caught the first time? Did he feel he needed PEDs in order to have a shot to be an elite player at this later stage of his career, to stave off further breakdowns? Is there a part of him that attributes everything he’s done to the PED boost, and therefore he’s forced to continue using? Was he simply convinced that the latest supplement was undetectable? Or that he was above the law?
Because it just doesn’t make sense. I’ve come to buy the argument that the crime is worth the risk, the potential financial payoff great to the point of minimizing potential side effects or punishments. But A-Rod is past that point in his career – he’s made it, landing the largest contract in baseball history and the guaranteed security that goes with it. He has more to lose than to gain – unless he’s hellbent on breaking, say, the career home run record. Come to think of it, he might be narcissistic enough to unlawfully pursue that.
Some of these same questions apply to Johnny Football, allegedly. He’s already rich – or his parents are, at least – so why mess around with breaking one of the more black-and-white rules in the NCAA handbook? And, no, he’s not excused under the idea that college athletes should be allowed to make money from autographs. The rules are the rules. That’s like getting picked up for marijuana possession and claiming that, well, it shouldn’t be illegal in the first place.
Meanwhile, where do the other Texas A&M players factor into the Summer of Johnny? Call me old fashioned, but I’m of the mind that quarterbacks should be team players and leaders. How can some of the Aggies not be turned off by Football’s penchant for the spotlight and/or making bad decisions. And, no, I’m not cutting him slack for being 20 and famous, not when he comes from a resourceful family and not when he has NFL aspirations.
As for Dempsey, what sort of aspirations does he have? I’m not sure. But his move from Tottenham Hotspur to Seattle is fascinating – the unique rules of a soccer transfer, leaving England in the prime of his career, positioning himself to help Team USA at the World Cup, his importance to MLS and the league’s apparent role in ushering him toward the Sounders.
Narrative – it’s one of the reasons I’ve started to follow soccer earnestly in the past year. This story has as much as anyway without being overly salacious – and it’s only just begun. Now, Dempsey has to help the Sounders and then perhaps get loaned back to the EPL and then lead the U.S. into the World Cup and then delve full speed into MLS. It will be fun to follow, a more refreshing and unusual circumstance – at least to me as a soccer neophyte – than another doping slugger or misguided quarterback.