That’s right, you can’t trust any of us. I’m one of them myself, a 31-year-old living in my mother’s basement. Alright, that isn’t true (as far as you know!), but apparently if you’re blogging you’re automatically stuck living at home, madly typing away in the dark next to a Costco-sized box of Bounce dryer sheets and a stack of old photo albums.
In the sporting world, 30 is when everything starts going downhill, both in terms of production and oftentimes integrity. Don’t believe it? Feel like society is getting crapped on by teenage NBA stars on MTV Cribs, hanging out with rappers and cultivating (gasp) posses?
Most of the seediest stories in North American sports have revolved around older athletes trying to hold on to their elite status. Manny Ramirez has been juicing for years to keep his salary in the $20M range. Brett Favre has gone from America’s everyman to the man we all wish would go away (hopefully Yahoo’s report is right and his retirement is final this time, but it’s impossible to believe anything sources say about Favre, one way or the other). Alex Rodriguez. Lance Armstrong. Barry Bonds. Roger Clemens. If you were a top-level athlete in the 1990’s and are still in the public eye today, there’s a good chance your last few years have been filled with controversy and innuendo.
Sports is all about personalities, which is why Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper mourned this morning’s news about Ramirez on the Giants pregame radio show as if it were found out Bengie Molina tested positive for angeldust. The modern legends of baseball are getting taken down one by one, until all that’s left is…a bunch of young talent. But young talent, without hype, is boring to the casual fan. We trust the purity of their efforts, but we don’t know them. Until the sporting public feels they or the game has been cheated by someone, they’d rather watch a star they know is an asshole than someone they’ve rarely thought about one way or the other.
Hero worship is a vicious animal. It creates personalities children dream of becoming, and reputations the media try to destroy in hopes of becoming heroes themselves (for example: AJ Daulerio’s bitter sob-fest he wrote today about not being able to break the Manny Steroids Story himself). And once it starts to slip away, the supremely rich and famous have proven they’ll do anything in their power to stay legendary. Legal or illegal, they’ll use anything or anyone to make sure they’re still known by one single name by the populace. Favre. Barry. A-Rod. Rocket. Lance. Manny. It isn’t unethical to enjoy watching them play, as we all have taken some degree of pleasure from the successes (or failures) of each of our “great” American sporting heroes. Just don’t believe anything they say or do is 100% pure — especially if they’re over 30.