Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Not Another A-Rod Story!

I know, I know. You've heard everything you can about A-Rod and his alleged banned substance use over the past 24 hours. ESPN has changed their slogan from "The Worldwide Leader in Sports" to the "Worldwide Leader in A-Rod Roid Coverage." I think it's time to stay away from the actual news coverage and take a look at Alex Rodriguez and the very words he used to admit to his mistakes in 2001-2003.

The first question that comes to mind is how effective was it for A-Rod to publicly and openly come out and address the media with his admittance. Was he convincing? Did he come off as defensive? I'm sure there are plenty of questions that swirl in your mind whenever the A-Rod issue comes up.

The truth is that A-Rod did what was best for him and best for the game of baseball. Knowing that performance-enhancing supplements are a hot button issue in the MLB today, he faced the music and came clean. Had he resorted to a Roger Clemens-like approach, there would be a constant and relentless coverage of his allegations over the course of many weeks and months. By telling the truth, he purges all of the media's bottled up emotions on the issue and allows it to tide over quickly.

It's common sense to realize that this is another taint on MLB's bad reputation with steroids and other performance enhancers. The positive side to this story is that A-Rod comes off as genuinely regretful and eager to put his mistakes in the past. A-Rod uses the phrase "the truth will set you free," in order to sum up his reason for addressing ESPN's Peter Gammons on Monday. He argues that despite his use of banned substances between '01-'03 he was better off in the years after his use, citing his two MVP awards and his historic 2007 season.

Many people will feel betrayed by A-Rod's admission, but it is better to live in disappointment with the truth, than to live in happiness through deception. When we, as a public, place an athlete on such a high pedestal, we set them up for a harder fall and a tougher recovery whenever they make mistakes. A-Rod claims that his reason for taking such substances in the first place was because he felt so much pressure to perform at the highest level possible for his team and the fans. Had we not placed such pressure on athletes we might not be experiencing the effects of a steroid era to the extent at which we feel it today.

There is no doubt that this brings his home run record and Hall-of-Fame status into question for many years to come. Those are issues that will be dealt with in time and will be determined by history's portrayal of A-Rod. As for now, A-Rod has shed light onto a very dark area of MLB by opening up to the truth, admitting that he knowingly took the supplements, and moving forward with his career. This dilemma has even drawn commentary by President Obama in his address to the American Public on Monday night.

"The thing I'm probably most concerned about is the message it sends to our kids...What I'm pleased about is Major League Baseball seems to finally be taking this seriously, to recognize how big a problem this is for the sport, and that our kids hopefully are watching and saying, 'You know what? There are no short cuts, that when you try to take short cuts, you may end up tarnishing your entire career, and that your integrity's not worth it.' That's the message I hope is communicated."

Indeed we all hope that this sends a positive image to children who see players like A-Rods as role models and idols. This should be the final chapter in the steroid era, and the youth should realize that performance enhancers are not the answer. For the sake of baseball, let's begin to put this all behind us and focus on the realities of our lives today. Speaking more of A-Rod's admission will not solve our country's economic problems, it will only shed more negative light on our our already-gloomy situation. The man has spoken, the truth has been told, and it's time for us to forgive the human being we like to call "A-Rod."

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