Okay, let me paint a picture for you all.
You just moved in with your longtime girlfriend and its time to put the furniture in its place. You start by bringing in the couch and think you’ve found the perfect location. Unfortunately, she doesn’t. So you start this game of cat and mouse, moving that damned couch from position to position hoping to finally please her. She thinks that she’ll like it here, but it turns out that she thinks it will look better over there. No matter what you do, she’s never happy.
Well, put it into a different perspective. As sports fans, we’ve stood on our soapboxes and railed against the use of steroids in sports. We’ve challenged those who have been accused to be man enough to step forward and admit to their guilt, to cleanse themselves of their sins.
The only problem is, we want them to confess, but we are not prepared to offer them forgiveness either.
Now does it sound familiar?
It has been a few weeks since Mark McGwire finally came forward and admitted to using steroids. No matter how convoluted that admittance was, or the circumstances that led to his decision to profess it, we got what we wanted. As fans, we got one of the biggest fish in the steroid pond to take the bait and tell the truth, yet our reactions to his proclamation was full of disdain and skepticism to the point where McGwire, and baseball for that matter, are no better off for it.
So why do they bother trying to put the couch in its place anyway? If there is no pleasing the masses, are they just better off living life under a cloud of speculation rather than a rain of damnation? Then again, should they really expect anything different?
Let’s put the shoe on someone else’s foot shall we. Say we deposit the scarlet letter onto a person who has never been linked to steroids. For this exercise, we’ll choose a player who was considered the best player of this time, for a while, until he was lost in the crowd when McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds took center stage. We’ll say this player, hypothetically of course, takes a proactive approach and admits to his steroid use before a single whisper is muttered.
If this player, let’s call him Ken Griffey Jr., stepped forward and admitted to wrong-doing before being accused of it, would he be any better off for it? Would he be treated any different for being honest?
Basically, the question becomes “which is worse, the crime or the cover-up?”
It would be easy to say that the worst is the silence, but given the reaction we’ve seen recently to McGwire, we can’t exactly be sure can we. For years we heard sports writers proclaim that they would view McGwire and his Hall Of Fame credibility in a different light should he step forward and speak about the past, but as we’ve started to see, that isn’t exactly the case now is it.
In the end, a man is judged by the decisions he makes. He decides whether or not to play the game on the same level as others. He decides whether or not to talk or to stay silent. He decides whether or not his actions have a bearing on the man he is and the man he will be, but in the end, he doesn’t decide what kind of man he really is.
That is left to the court of public opinion.