Nowhere is moral turpitude more noted than in the world of sports in this country. This doesn’t mean that it’s more prevalent among athletes and coaches/managers than among others, only that when discovered it’s made far more public. The better-known and respected the perpetrator of what is still considered an immoral act is (not many left in so-called postmodernism), the more he/she becomes an object of interest for the media and other folks in the sports profession, whether involving vilification or praise or sympathy or empathy or whatever.
Footballer Michael Vick is the latest example, though the seemingly never-ending baseball flap regarding the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs, especially among those who have excelled to the “Hall of Fame” level apparently due to their use, is a constant competitor for attention. Vick is the guy who ran the dog-fighting operation wherein two dogs fight to the death for spectator- and betting-pleasure and then tortured the dogs to death himself. Mean? You bet. He served a bit more than a year-and-a-half in the Big House in the bargain, having last played in the NFL in 2006. He’s just signed with Philadelphia, the better to start making again all the multimillions he lost in his little sideshow.
The current case of University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino is another example. An “indiscretion” a few years ago – sex in a restaurant while admittedly drunk with someone not his wife – has placed the coach even more in the spotlight, which he already enjoyed on practically a day-to-day basis. Seems the woman got pregnant and the coach gave her $3,000 for an abortion. Perhaps this is the worst angle, especially since one of Pitino’s sons died years ago, while still a child. The woman later married Pitino’s trainer in a bizarre twist and the whole thing would never have come to light except that she decided to become a millionaire herself at Pitino’s expense and blew the whole thing into the ravenous media.
The irony regarding both scummy matters lies in the fact that Vick incurred the wrath of a whole nation, not just PETA, for mistreating dogs, while the termination of the fetus (said by perhaps most people to be an actual human being) has brought not even a yawn from the public. Which was worse? Well…both were terrible, but the outcomes give an insight as to how inured the public has become to loss of human life…or potential human life…whatever. Vick went to jail. Pitino continues on in his multi-million-dollar capacity with the blessing of both the athletic director and the president of the university, though he may lose a few “motivational” speeches around the country in the process…except maybe in California, where most anything goes.
The term most often introduced with respect to the shenanigans of high-profile athletes, as well as their good points, is “role model.” People gasp at the notion that Vick and Pitino have endangered the minds of the youthful athletes with regard to personal deportment. Really? Cheating – on every level – is endemic to sports…meaning that the “anything goes” concept is always operable, no matter with the game or the personal life. It begins in public schools as players, fans, parents, school officials, coaches look for that “edge,” no matter what it is…if it can be secured, that is, without the perpetrators being apprehended.
Have Vick’s exploits and Philadelphia’s ambitions affected the minds of the youth or anyone else? No. The games will be attended, the cheers will be made, and Vick will be loved unless he fails to perform since winning at all costs is always operable in the NFL. If he flames out, the duplicitous fans will scream “dog-fighting” at him, but if he does well, they will forget all about the attaching of electrodes to the dogs, the better to end their lives.
What about Pitino and the “role-modeling?” He recruits and plays African-American players almost exclusively. In the black community, 70% of all births are illegitimate – no father of record. The white community is fast catching-up and the figure now stands at 30%. So…fornication and adultery, as well as child-abandonment, have simply become facts of life throughout the nation, wherein half of all first marriages end in divorce and a huge percentage of shack-ups produce nothing but misery, the children be damned. No…Pitino as role model is hardly affected in a country that’s been spiraling downward morally for decades.
Perhaps the paradigm for the current debauchery noted in these examples is what’s been celebrated this month – Woodstock of 1969. The networks have been reveling in flashbacks of this extraordinary celebration of orgy some 40 years ago, when the boomers, having been given way too much by their parents, known by some as the greatest generation, writhed and copulated in the mud, blew their minds on whatever could be had, and simply kissed off civility as something too anachronistic to abide.
Shades of Woodstock – that’s where the nation abides today, its moral compass so thoroughly discombobulated that its people shrug at Vick, Pitino, and a government in the process of promising everyone something for nothing while taking everything from them. It’s in the throes of the generations of the 1960s-70s…WOODSTOCK! Sad! It reminds of the scripture that asks the question: “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” God help us all.