Doping is in the news again. Big surprise. This time some track athletes have admitted to past PED usage. New doping discoveries are as common as Obama and Clinton tiffs. They are hardly even news anymore. The list of baseball players gets longer and longer. Runners, cyclists, skiers… it just goes on and on. The funny thing is that people try and claim that the NFL is clean. Yeah. Right.
But it got me wondering. Do fans really care if the athletes are doping? I mean, do we really?
Doping gave us the incredible solo break away win from Tyler Hamilton. It gave us Floyd’s man-eating stage win in 2006. PED’s gave us the 1998 and 2001 baseball seasons. It has allowed men a decade past their prime to perform as if they are still 29 years old. And across professional leagues attendance in all sorts of sports is growing. Fans are spending money at the stadium, buying tickets, jersey’s, food, and anything else they can get their hands on.
Doping scandals don’t seem to be hurting sports.
Of course we ‘tsk tsk’ at Barry Bonds and Marion Jones and Floyd Landis. But without those ‘roids we’d all have been denied some of the greatest moments in sports history. Who was not awed by Marion Jones in her Olympic prime? Who did not cheer Landis on as he ripped the field to shreds? Who was not glued to the television in 1998 as Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire chased down one of baseball’s most hallowed numbers?
After the fact it is easy to condemn the accused, and the convicted. But in the moment we are inspired, awe struck, moved. Our jaws drop to the floor as we witness history. We are so caught up in the amazing that it never crosses our minds that it might all be fake. Or at least mostly fake.
So are sports really worse off because half of everyone is cheating?