Friday, May 26, 2006

Cheating is OK?

-While listening to Bernie Miklasz and his merry gang of cohorts on 1380ESPN this morning, I was treated to the comments of one Charlie "Tuna" Edwards who regularly contributes his thoughts to the Miklasz presentation. I assume he is there to give the show a minority presence, because racial issues seem to be all he wants to talk about. Tuna is one of the few remaining media types who has enough nerve to defend Barry Bonds. He generally does it from the angle that Bonds is black, and therefore everything that has been said or written about him has more to do with the fact that he is hated by non-blacks, than the enormous mountain of evidence that he juiced himself up with steroids to enhance his career.

During this morning's discussion of Bonds, Edwards made the statement...and I'm paraphrasing here...that everybody has cheated at one time in their lives, so we shouldn't come down on Bonds if he has cheated. He went on to say that he doesn't mind if his own daughters cheat. The problem comes when you get caught.

I will not try to argue that most of us have not cheated at something at one time or another. What I will argue is the premise that cheating is OK as long as you don't get yourself in trouble doing it. If that's what we've come to in this society, Heaven help us. If Mr. Edwards actually teaches such a philosophy to his offspring, and he is typical of today's matter the skin color... then we have fallen off the wagon of decency and honor in a big way. He should be ashamed to admit it, if it's true. But, lack of personal shame is the problem with a lot of things these days. That sort of mentality you might expect to exist in prisons, street gangs, poker games, and maybe corporate board rooms. But for all of us to be walking around thinking that it takes cheating, or it's OK to cheat in order to get ahead, is just not right. America, and its people have to be better than that. And certainly a good majority of us are. Condoning the notion that cheating is OK would be the first step toward societal chaos and the breakdown of all that we hold dear. True satisfaction in any achievement comes at reaching a goal with hard work and dedication. I think Mr. Edwards, deep down in his soul, knows this to be true.

As far as whether Tuna's argument holds any water...When did Barry Bonds become just another person like you and me and worthy of a free pass on cheating? He is a sports icon. And, whether he likes it or not...or anybody else likes it or not...sets examples for young people with his behavior. This is a man who is the son of a famous athlete and has had priveleges most of us can only dream of since the day he drew his first breath. He has been in the spotlight of the sports world since the first time he walked to the plate as a Pittsburgh Pirate those many years ago. So his reality.. (check out his ESPN tv show if you need proof).. is far different than that of most of the rest of us. He is truly living the "surreal life". So, he should expect to be held to a higher standard than someone who may cheat on his taxes, or an algebra test. True achievement in any field of endeavor will have no value if everyone is always suspected of having cheated.

The fact that people may be inclined to think negatively of Barry Bonds has much more to do with the way he treats others around him than it does the color of his skin. If Bonds were anything but a pro athlete, he couldn't get away with such behavior. If anybody ever gets away with it, we all should be spanked for not holding them accountable. Mr. Bonds would be fired in corporate America. If he tried to run his own business, it would fail from lack of customers. If he was working on a highway crew, he'd last about an hour until the rest of the gang walked off the job. The kind of person he is would have landed him in prison by now, if not for his enormous baseball talent that causes his employers look the other way.

Tuna Edwards is not doing himself, or anyone else he might claim to speak for, a favor by trying to make such an argument. Cheating is not OK for anyone, at any time. Particularly not Barry Bonds and the others who have injected themselves to enhance their bodies, careers, and incomes. By doing so, they deny the game of baseball, and the fans who love it, the honor, and stature in our society, it deserves. Bonds has already cheated himself out of the honor and respect he could have had without cheating. That should be lesson enough for Tuna's daughters.

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