Every week brings new allegations about professional athletes using performance-enhancing substances and odd treatments for injuries. This week is no different. The allegations get made, and the athletes issue denials, and the games go on. Who’s to know whether that great athletic performance you so admired was the result of hard work, careful training, and focus, or the juice of the root of the exotic zub zub tree?
It’s appropriate that the issue of performance-enhancing drugs was raised this week, because it’s Super Bowl Week — the week of the worst wretched sports excess in an America that is characterized by wretched sports excess. Want to know why some athletes take performance-enhancing drugs? Take a look at the outrageous trappings of the Super Bowl, the money-drenched parties, and the adulation poured on the participants, and you’ll have the answer to your question. If you have a chance to become a household name who will be paid tens of millions of dollars to play a sport, wouldn’t you be tempted to take drugs that might allow you to realize that goal?
I’m heartily sick of American professional sports. I’m sick of the ludicrous contracts, the players who are all about themselves and not about their teams, the blowhard jock-sniffing owners, the celebrity coaches, the athletes who have become cult figures, the luxury boxes, the mindless endorsements, and just about everything else that has to do with professional sports. Whatever innocence once existed in sport is long gone, and a sick money culture has taken its place.
This week, I’m going to protest by not watching the Super Bowl. I’ll watch college sports instead, and try to convince myself that the huge amounts of money floating around student athletes haven’t ruined the college games, too. I know that my little protest will make no difference, and the Super Bowl will set another viewership record, but I don’t care. I’ve had it.