Thursday, June 4, 2015

V 5 N. 52 What Does This All Mean To Me?

In case you are wondering about the headline,  I'm talking about the BBC  doping allegations that have been laid on Alberto Salazar and the Nike Oregon Project.

First things first, I do not condone any form of biochemical performance enhancement with intent to sidestep the rules put down by sports governing bodies.     Now how to start the next sentence?  "Nevertheless?   however?  in light of?  but? "   Okay, decision time.   "It appears" that our society is one that has been  condoning performance and entertainment at all costs.   Pre once said that a race on the track was a work of art.   Well, we all know that no one seems to care what artists put into their systems to create and perform and make better oeuvres d'arts, Amy Winehouse, Jim Morrison, Jerry Garcia to name a few.   Sport is entertainment to the masses, though having just watched a track meet in Eugene last weekend, I think the vast majority of people who attend track meets in that city are more interested and appreciative of what an athlete must go through to perform at their best.  No one booed an athlete there for his or her downfall, for their nationality, religion, or clothing style.    The fans in Eugene were there to see men and women at their best.  An Iranian discus thrower was as welcome as the American next to him.   I want to believe that they wanted to see a drug free competition.   They had their favorites, especially those with an Oregon background, but they were just as appreciative of someone from Africa beating their local heroes.

Now to the case at hand?   Were there cheaters running , throwing, jumping, in the Pre Classic?  Most probably, yes.   Cheating is part of the human condition.   We are usually taught to resist cheating when we learn right and wrong as children, but a few years later the real world confronts us.  So now we  see cheating going on at all levels of society.  Teachers have to confront cheating all the time, and when a child is found cheating by their teacher,  the teacher is often  condemned by parents more interested in their child's final score or grade point than by how that child actually attained the mark.  We can no longer accept that a 4.0 grade point is the best one can do.  Now we have developed new scoring systems to classify the best of the best, and a kid can have a 4.5 GPA.  We cheat in elections, we cheat in manufacturing and design, we cheat in billing customers, we cheat in advertising.


1975  same message just not using the athletes yet.

At the Pre Classic this weekend,  Nike passed out free literature touting nineteen of their 'contract' athletes and at the same time promoted their shoe products with the slogans  "So Fast"  and "Find Your Fast".   I must admit, I was drawn to the ads and even walked into some shops looking at the Nike products drawing me there with the latest colors and styles, and the suggestion that I could be better if I put down $200 and walked,  no ran,  out the store to get in a workout.  Then I looked at their competitors, and it was the same story, same colorful products, same premises and promises.    I returned to my car "newshoeless".    At this stage of my running life,   I know that nothing I put on my feet is going to help me run faster.     But maybe,  just maybe  I can talk to my doc next week about my testosterone levels and get a prescription for some corticosteroid drug to ingest or rub on my legs.   Call me Ponce De Leon if you must.  No , I will not do that, but the option is there.

This is what our elite athletes are faced with everyday, just to stay in the game.   One coach told me that to be 6th or 7th in the world in an event is not going to enable an athlete to 'earn a living'.   It is only the top few who will make some money for a few years, and then they will need to find another way to pay their bills.   If I were a young athlete,  sixteen years old, and finding myself on the cusp of greatness and a well known coach came to me and said he could help me fulfill my dreams, I'm sure I would jump at the chance to 'go for it' (old Nike Slogan).   I would most probably believe someone with a good sales pitch, a lot of experience, and a great record of producing great athletes, and I would do anything I was told to do.  I think we call that 'recruiting'?   At sixteen or even twenty-one years of age, I would have very little experience in the world by which to make sound decisions.  Once I found my groove and the grand seduction was running my life, I would buy, buy, buy into it.  Only when my skills or performance started to wane and I found myself on the outside looking in would I begin to get the big picture.

At Eugene this week, one of the most common questions was,  "Why did Mary Cain leave the NOP?  Plenty of speculation on that, and now even more.  She is a very bright young woman.  Maybe she saw the writing on the wall at an early age.  But that is a question that remains to be answered.  My heart goes out to the Gouchers for what they have been through and my admiration is boundless for Steve Magness for his courage to stand up for what he believes is right.

At the moment I only have loathing for the shills and their despicable ethics who are putting young athletes and young professionals into these situations.

For hundreds of years,  scientists have taken some scary steps to test their theories, often using themselves as guinea pigs to test their ideas.  Some even went so far as to use their house guests as guinea pigs.   Read Bill Bryson's book on "The Theory of Just About Everything" to find examples.
If we are looking for something that might make life better for mankind, perhaps such behavior may be justified, but if it is just to perform a little better by cheating, then those folks condoning such behavior should be submitted to the likes of Phil Scott's dad who once could be heard  to say, "SOMEBODY NEEDS TO CLEAN HOUSE OUT THERE AND GIVE SOME SERIOUS ASS WHOPPING!"

Comment from Jerry McFadden   U. of Missouri  1963   4:05 miler

very well said. We are on the same wave length. I agree 100% to all of your points. I, too, would have innocently strayed at a young age for the promise of greatness from a respected 'father' figure. Fortunately, Tom Botts at Mizzou was the straightest arrow that ever walked the face earth (He once made me return a towel I had "borrowed" from a hotel during a meet!). And yet he developed great runners & great teams. Thanks for putting your comments out there.

Jerry,  How many miles did he make you walk or run to return that towel?

From Bill Schnier:

  A million years from now there still will be a difference between right and wrong even though the interpretation of all of that will change dramatically.  One reason steroids are banned is because they are detrimental to the athlete other than giving him a sporting edge.  An even playing field is always the goal, so this is one of those factors which makes the field uneven.  Ethical or not ethical, those who dope break the current rules, endanger the health of their athletes and put themselves first for either profit or fame.  The Salazar matter will play itself out but what a competitor or a spectator wants out of a sporting event is for it to be what it appears to be without any trickery.  
   Did Mary Cain put her health or honesty first and Galen Rupp turn his back on those issues?  Did Alberto Salazar put himself first?  Time will tell but once again I say that he probably is guilty, and so is his parent company, Nike.  They asked for Salazar, paid him a fortune and got what they paid for.  A company which grosses $27.8 billion per year, has not made a shoe in the US since 1984, dropped China and took up Korea because they would work for $0.60 per hour and can produce a shoe for $10 and sell it for 10 times that deserves no respect. I would love for them to fall and fall hard but really this is a non-issue because they will distance themselves from Salazar and play the ignorant role which people will believe with their whole heart because they like the shoes.  Good luck to everyone, other than the dishonest who need no luck because they only bet on a sure thing.      Bill


Richard Trace said...

Excellent idea.

skwilli said...

I have said for years that the "Drug Problem" is much worse than even the worst critics know. It's virtually 100% in cycling, even after the crack-down following the Armstrong affair. It's only slightly lower than that in T&F, I am pretty sure. That means all of us are currently rooting for people who have cut corners. Some people are sometimes violently opposed to my opinion on this, but I have eventually been proven right so many times that even they have reason to pause. I only know of one person who absolutely never would resort to such things. And that's me. But then none of you ever heard of me, did you? Such is the allure. And it never will go away. No matter what testing is concocted and performed.

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