August 26, 2013

LIAO | Summer Sorrows

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After completing our final exams last semester, we all earned a well-deserved break. It seems as if the entire sports world went on the same hiatus. After very compelling NBA and NHL Finals, the realm of professional sports seems to have been put on pause. Next to nothing has happened since the finals and instead of focusing on the sports themselves, the media and the public have heavily scrutinized the many off-the-field incidents in which athletes have been involved this summer. The reason why sports are a multi-billion dollar industry is because of the competition on the field; a motivational background story for one of the players is nice once in awhile, but competition is why we watch. In that regard, this summer has been very disappointing — and boring — for me and other sports fans.

The most prevalent story of the entire summer has been the performance-enhancing drug scandal surrounding Tony Bosch, Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez. If you haven’t heard the story yet, Tony Bosch — the founder of Biogenesis — supplied PEDs to several MLB players and ratted out the players he helped, leading to the suspension of 13 players. We can get into a long-winded debate about the implications on the sport as a whole from this report, but the fact is, people are concentrating on these cheaters instead of the athletes actually performing on the field. People forget about the Dodgers winning an incredible 42 of their last 51 games after the addition of Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez, or the seemingly cursed Pirates still leading their division. Instead, the public wants to hear about what caused these individuals to cheat and how many others are out there.

The story got even more complicated recently when it was discovered that Alex Rodriguez was suspended for 211 games — a season more than anyone else — because he tried to hide information from the MLB and bribe Tony Bosch’s attorney to release the names of the others before his own. The outrage over Rodriguez in particular has caused many superfluous stories about A-Rod, Yankees management and any other possible contrived angle you can imagine. The outrage even spilled onto the field, as Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster purposefully hit Rodriguez in a game. It’s a shame when something like this begins to affect the play of teams in meaningful games.

The PED scandal is not contained to just baseball; there have been several reports of PED use in the NFL, headlined by Bronco’s Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller’s six-game suspension. However, this was only the start of the off-field distractions for the NFL. Earlier in the summer, Patriots Pro Bowl tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested for the murder of his friend Odin Lloyd in the biggest sports-related news story since Tiger’s fateful Thanksgiving Day Dinner. As more and more reports came out, the story became wilder and wilder, as a murder from last year was being blamed on Hernandez as well. As a result of this despicable crime, people started manufacturing stories blaming anyone from Urban Meyer to Tom Brady, soaking up all the media attention. Again, Hernandez’s unspeakable actions outside of his sport completely overshadowed all the hours of hard work the other players have been putting in.

Moving into the amateur (can it be called amateur at this point?) realm of college football, we see much of the same story. This time, the focus is Johnny Manziel and his behavior turning from sophomoric to simply idiotic. He began the summer by partying and doing what college sophomores do, but this latest scandal of charging autograph dealers for his signature may force the NCAA to suspend him for a few games. This is especially ridiculous when considering that his family is not poor; he has been spotted in fancy cars and in the front row of a Miami Heat Finals game. The hoopla surrounding Manziel was so intense that at the SEC Media Days, there were more reporters crowding around him than in the heydays of Tim Tebow — a controversial figure in his own right.

Of course, some of this boredom must be blamed on the schedule itself. Of the four major sports, only baseball is in season and it is the off year between World Cups and Olympics. In fact, even in this off year for soccer, the biggest sports-related story may have come from the USA men’s soccer team, who reeled off 12 wins in a row, a record for the country. Although this is a great story for the state of soccer in this country, it’s indicative of how boring the summer has been when it comes to actual sports. As we begin another year on the hill, we can only hope that the sports world will resume as well. I sincerely hope that both the players and the media will concentrate on what happens on the court, and ignore all the surrounding noise off of it.

Original Author: Albert Liao