Scott Gray Sports Commentary, Thursday, October 2nd 2014

SEARCHING FOR THE EDGE

As the headlines blare and one story piles on another trumpeting the anti social behavior of today’s sports stars, perhaps the question we should ask ourselves is, “When did we stop caring about the purity of the competition?”

Who was the first player, coach, general manager or owner who tried to get the edge, regardless of the cost. That first edge probably involved cheating, which shows us how far we’ve come without going very far at all. After all, isn’t using performance enhancing drugs cheating? Aren’t they designed to give one player an edge over another? Isn’t demanding little or no accountability from the most talented players, just to get an edge, cheating, if not in the game, cheating on society?

Isn’t ignoring injuries that can be overlooked today regardless of future implications cheating? Ask any number of NFL players who were cheated out of their livelihoods for the sake on playing one more season or one more game. When did it all start?

It’s probably safe to say someone was angling for an edge in the first recorded athletic competition and the search for an edge escalated when the money went on the table. When the money reached outrageous proportions we lost our minds in the competition to win at all costs.

A distburbing headline blares from the USA Today sports section this morning. “NFL has a history of leniency”. The subheadline tells of domestic violence arrest going unaddressed for years. What coaches, general managers and owners feared most has come true. They knew that society would demand, and recieve, justice for victims, but such justice might mean losing a star player for a big game, and afterall, aren’t they all big games.

The message was lost for so many years it still hasn’t gotten through to the players, Cowboys defensive back C.J. Spillman the latest player who’s name shows up in a sexual assault complaint within the last month.

The quest for the edge led to a search for ways for players to get bigger, stronger and faster, bigger, stronger human projectiles hurling at each other at increasing speeds. The protection got better, but almost as an afterthought, to the point where it has yet to catch up with the excessive violence.

Parents started treating their kids as investments, with elite teams designed to separate them from their less talented friends and personal trainers to further separate them, place them among the bigger, stronger and faster. In a recent study 75 of 76 young football players were found to have suffered from some form of brain trauma. Last week a high school football player in Shoreham, New York collapsed after colliding with an opposing player. He died following surgery.

Every sport has a closet full of skeletons. They only address them when they get caught, the NFL just the latest case in point, temporarily deflecting attention from the other sports while they try to hide theirs. They all like to point to the advancements they’ve made and the rules they instituted and say they’ve come a long way in dealing with such issues.

In reality they’ve hardly moved since the first athlete looked for the first edge in the first competition.

With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.

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