Scandals don’t keep fans away

It was mostly steroids, but the big three sports leagues have undergone a smattering of controversy during the summer: Barry Bonds and the homer chase, Tim Donaghy the point-shaving NBA ref, Michael Vick and his sickening slaying of dogs. Yet the major sports leagues continue to set attendance records.

Fans vote with their wallet, and they’ve spoken. I’ve never understood why the majority of the sports media don’t get it. The possibility that Rick Ankiel or Troy Glaus or Rodney Harrison possibly used steroids while rehabbing gets ESPN into a tizzy and makes headlines across the sports universe.

I’m not saying it’s ethically right for athletes to take steroids, but it’s pretty clear that they take them to try to become better on the field, or to loosely interpret the phrase, entertain the fans.

Obviously, there is the issue of fairness, but consider this: sports are unfair by definition anyway.

Is it fair that the St. Louis Cardinals get to play six interleague games against the doormat Kansas City Royals every year while the New York Mets have to play the New York Yankees?

Is it fair that Michael Finley signs with a perennial championship contender like the San Antonio Spurs solely because he wants a chance to win a title? Is it fair that some athletes get paid ungodly amounts of money based on potential alone? Of course not.

Sports were never meant to be fair, they were meant to be entertaining.

Vick’s scandal is a tragedy, and he did something horrible. But does it compare to other athletes’ behavior?

Elijah Dukes threatened to kill his wife by sending her a picture of a gun, Travis Henry has nine illegitimate children to nine different mothers and Ron Artest socked a fan that threw a beer at him. It’s not exactly in the same league as killing animals, but it’s not that far off the mark.

The mainstream sports media continue to pander to fans and try to tell them how disgusted and enraged they should feel about all these things.

Yet America keeps showing up to games and watching them on TV. Sports, as a business, rakes in billions in revenue every year.

I hate to ruin the morality party, but most of these scandals just really don’t matter that much to sports fans. People watch sports to be entertained and escape from the problems of real life, not to be reminded of them.

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