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The deteriorating face of American sports

Over the course of the last hundred years or so, America has placed a great deal of interest, passion and pride into its professional sports teams.

Where sports have traditionally held a good clean place in society, controversies have caused their integrity to be lost.

In the span of just a summer, a fury of scandals has torn apart the face of American sports.

Michael Vick, the NFL’s prodigal son, was charged by federal courts with dog-fighting.

NBA referee Tim Donaghy, pleaded guilty to two felony charges that he bet on games, including those he officiated.

Finally, Barry Bonds, although never actually proven guilty of steroid use, hit his record-breaking 756th home run in August to the silence of baseball fans-many of whom call him a cheater.

In a nation where morals and values are declining, America’s sports teams aren’t doing much to reverse the tide.

Considering all the young minds that adore sports figures and look for role models in them, on- and off-the-field behavior matters more than ever to American society.

Bonds has been quoted as saying, “Everyone in society should be a role model, not only for their own self-respect, but for respect from others.”

After an embarrassing loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1995, Philadelphia Eagles running back Ricky Watters responded to criticism for his lack of dedication to the team with the infamous line, “For who? For what?”

I sometimes wonder if Watters’ line is a more truthful representation of the attitudes of so many players than Bonds’ claim.

Does anyone really care anymore? Do sports stars really accept the responsibilities of being looked up to or has it become something where they are only programmed to say, “I want to be a good role model?”

For millions of Americans, sports serve as a celebration of competitiveness and athleticism. But the cake doesn’t taste as sweet as it looks.

If America cannot watch a basketball game without the temptation of phoning a friend of Tim Donaghy to make some money, then I don’t want to watch at all.

If they do induct Bonds into the Hall of Fame someday, I hope they put his plaque in a corner or closet somewhere, where no one will want to take a picture with it.

And now thanks to Vick, even finding entertainment in animal mascots holds a haze of awkwardness over it.

The real question is if Vick or Donaghy ever felt bad for the crimes they committed against sports. If Bonds did use performance-enhancing drugs at any point, does he feel at all guilty, or will he only feel remorseful should overriding evidence prove him guilty?

The sad truth is that most people only feel bad when they get caught. It must be a conscious personal decision to do what’s right whether anyone takes notice or not. For the sake of a generation that chooses athletes for heroes, America needs its sports figures to make that decision.

This article is the opinon of the writer and not necessarily the view held by the entire Waltonian staff.

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