Big sports scandals challenge even the most optimistic fan

?Life is great,? said my agent I.M. Slick. ?It doesn?t get much better than this.?

?What are you talking about?? I asked.

Slick: ?Did you hear about the trouble Michael Vick is having, allegedly, with dog fighting? Why would anyone that talented and wealthy get involved in something so dumb? And did you hear about the pro basketball referee who allegedly has altered the point spread in some games for gambling purposes? Here?s someone at the top of his profession and he risks losing it all. And I won?t even begin to review the whole steroid controversy involving Barry Bonds, allegedly, and other Major League Baseball players.?

Joe: ?I fail to see what?s so great about all of these controversies.?

Slick: ?Why do I even bother? Look at all of the easy columns you can write about the decadence of sports and the moral decline of society.?

Joe: ?Do you think it?s really that easy??

Slick: ?Sure. Everyone is a sucker for those columns. It?s easy for people to jump on the bandwagon and act outraged.?

Joe: ?That?s what I mean. People act like they?re outraged, but are they really??

Slick: ?Now, now. Don?t be so serious. Just relax. Look at it this way. You?ll never run out of material. There will always be new scandals and scoundrels to write about.?

Joe: ?And what good does it do to write about it??

Slick: ?Good? It doesn?t do any good. No one really cares. No one really changes. Fans will still pay big bucks to attend sporting events because they like the entertainment. People may gripe and complain, but they?ll still watch sports on TV and call in to talk shows. Athletes, officials and coaches will continue to cross the line no matter where you draw it. Of course it doesn?t do any good to write about it.?

Joe: ?Then why should I bother? Isn?t it just a waste of time??

Slick: ?Hold on. You?re starting to sound like me. One thing I like about you is that you proclaim that society can do better. We should aspire to higher standards.?

Joe: ?Oh, I don?t know. Holding out hope for higher standards is a losing battle, but??

Slick: ?It?s the right thing to do.?

Joe: ?Yeah. It?s the right thing to do.?

Slick: ?That?s better. That?s the old Joe I?m used to hearing. Keep your chin up. Don?t quit now. What would this world be like if everyone was self-centered and self-absorbed like me??

Joe: ?Do you really want an answer to that question??

Slick: ?Sure.?

Joe: ?Life would be pretty much like it always has been?full of corruption.?

Slick: ?There, now don?t you feel better??

Joe: ?Not really. Apparently my righteous indignation doesn?t faze you in the least.?

Slick: ?True, but keep up the good fight. You never know when someone will take your thoughts to heart.?

Joe: ?The optimistic side of me believes the public wants to be entertained so badly that they?re willing to tolerate a few bad apples in football, basketball, baseball or whatever.

History shows us that there will always be corruption and greed, but that doesn?t make it right.

Besides, the reason these scandals are news is that they are still the exception and not the rule. There are plenty of athletes, coaches and officials who are doing the right thing for the right reasons.?

Slick: ?Give it up. Life is full of lemons.?

Joe: ?Perhaps, but when dealt a bunch of lemons, we can still make lemonade.?

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