September 23, 2004

Money, Sex, and Power Above All

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It truly is a world of money, sex and power. After all, what else is even interesting? Art? Art is simply a reflection of a world consumed by wealth and pleasure. Politics? The fundamental platform of every politician revolves around his or her exploitation of the seven deadly sins. Sport? Not even close. The innocence and glory that was once athletic competition in the United States has been replaced with BALCO, Kobe’s trial, and Shaq’s excessive appearances on “Cribs.”

On SportsCenter over the weekend I watched Texas Rangers reliever Frank Francisco spike a chair into the face of a female Oakland Athletics fan. Was the fan taunting Francisco in a vile and inappropriate fashion? Probably. Are all fans who go to A’s and Raiders games culturally and mentally deficient? Most likely. Yet it is absolutely and utterly impossible to excuse the rookie for such a display worthy of only the midget wrestler on an episode of Jerry Springer. It’s tough to play in Oakland, rook, just ask Drew Bledsoe.

How could Francisco let himself explode so easily? Why does Barry Bonds continue to dope up in spite of harrowing steroid allegations? Why do celebrities consistently evade the influence and consequence of the law? The answer is simple. They have money. They have power. Most people don’t.

As a culture, we’ve learned to condone and be entertained by the behavior — criminal or otherwise — of superstars. Ricky Williams doesn’t want to play ball this year because he wants to smoke weed? Hurrah! Now there’s a man who knows what he wants to do, and goes out and does it. Ray Lewis feels the need to kill people at will? Fine! As long as he has the blood stains washed off by Sunday. A casual observer looking at the player file of almost any NFL team could easily confuse it with a prison rap sheet. Charles Barkley declaring in a Nike advertisement that he is clearly not, and has no intention of becoming, a role model? Thanks for clearing that one up, Charles.

Is there a way to curb the rampant sense of invulnerability permeating today’s athletes? I suppose we could try to give the game back to the fans. Lower ticket prices, merchandise prices and beer prices (hell, cut beer prices — bring back “Free Beer Night” at Cleveland Municipal Stadium). While we’re at it, no Cornell student should be forced to pay money to see student-athletes play, ever.

We could even abolish the sporting world entirely, turn off ESPN and institute a communist regime (but I don’t think the Cornell Review would approve of that). In essence, we’re content to live in a world where education funding is virtually nonexistent, democracy is only as useful as it is convenient and those in positions of money and power do whatever they want to.

I suppose we can’t really complain, with celebs like The Terminator running the show. I mean, a guy who killed the Predator could never be wrong about anything, right? He saved the damn world!

— The National Hockey League is on the verge of locking out the 2004 hockey season because of a labor disagreement between the player’s union and the owners. Esteemed ILR alumnus Gary Bettman ’74, the acting commissioner of the shattered league, has presided over the woefully ineffective negotiations from day one. Unfortunately for fellow alums like David LeNeveu ’05 and Joe Nieuwendyk ’88, Bettman’s ineptitude has led to unemployment for the athletes of the NHL ranks. Apparently, it does not take being in the spotlight as an athlete to disgracefully abuse one’s position of power. Just ask the current president.

— Yankees power hitter Jason Giambi spent much of the summer sidelined with a mysterious stomach ailment that also afflicted fellow power slugger Gary Sheffield. Since his recent return to the lineup, Giambi has gone 1-32, his first hit — a homer — coming on Tuesday night of this week.

In the years leading up to his untimely death at age 43, former Los Angeles Raiders defensive end Lyle Alzado complained of excessive stomach pain and was often sidelined in his final playing days because of unknown illnesses. Just prior to his death from brain cancer in 1992, Alzado admitted to using steroids consistently since 1969. The 1984 Super Bowl winner’s final wish? “That no one else ever dies this way.”

I only hope that Giambi’s current slump means that he has given up the needle for good.

— Mmm… money …power … money … power…what was the other thing I was supposed to go over? Ah yes, sex! Here’s a happier topic. Recently, musician/actress/dream woman Britney Spears tied the knot for the second time this year, on this occasion to backup dancer Kevin Federline. The crew of Pardon the Interruption gave a five month prediction — a figure I think is a bit high considering the pop queen’s last trip down the aisle was annulled in three days. As fraternity boys everywhere collectively weep over this announcement, I take solace in the fact that 2004 Wimbledon champ and tennis goddess Maria Sharapova is still available and flash-in-the-pan Spanish singer Shakira needs a big announcement to prolong her 15 minutes. She needs a power move: something like an unexpected and shocking marriage to an Ivy League undergrad.

— Other things to watch out for in the next two weeks: The powerful Philadelphia Eagles starting 4-0…the “moneyball” Dodgers actually on the verge of a National League playoff berth…the sexy Cornell women’s soccer team running away with the Ivy League…the money Andre Nickatina and his single “Ayo forYayo,” and the powerful and sexy readers of the Sun, who have borne with me thus far.

Archived article by Kyle Sheahen