Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Hidden Villain in the Roid Era

Marc Maron is a lefty comedian and political agitator. He's also a fairly perceptive mind, even though I don't agree with him all the time, and has a fairly original take in regards to L'Affaire L'A-Roid.

Maron equates the use of performance enhancing drugs to Viagra -- in that in both uses, you are substituting Extreme Fun for Reality, and it really just comes down to what you want from your experience.

(We're now going to spend the rest of this blog post trying, without success, to avoid the keywords that will fill the post with auto-spam comments.)

In one fell swoop, Maron pulls the shaky morality tentpole out of the three-ring circus of Public Condemnation For Dirty Cheating A-Roid. But let's face it... if there was something that the common person could take that would make them so good at their job that they'd be independently wealthy long before retirement age, you'd be seeing people shooting it into their eyeballs during the morning commute. Especially if that commute was long.

Not to get too far into the puerile, but would the women who are with the guys that can only function with the little blue miracles... be there if they couldn't? Some, sure, especially if the guy has more going for him than a reliable tool; money, looks and kindness can go far in the world. But not all, of course, especially if our theoretical Pharmaceutical Warrior finds himself lacking in the finer graces. For those couples, Extreme Fun compensates, just as it does for people who are paying two to three times for a ticket to a game that they did a generation ago. (Admittedly, not in the same parks. Oh, the siren song that is a new gouge-tastic yard.)

Maron believes (and who am I to question him on such things, having never played the Bob Dole Invitational myself) that what you lose with Extreme Fun is intimacy, honesty and integrity. The first two, sure. The last one, I don't agree, because my definition of integrity might be a little looser than Maron's. Going to our old friend Mr. Dictionary...

(Noun): Adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.

Nothing there about the character being, well, good.

This is getting pretty far from the toy department, but I think pathological people, more often than not, have integrity. I also think that if you're really good at your job, there's a reasonable chance that you are at least a little bit pathological about it. Michael Jordan might have been the most competitive man on the planet. At age 4, Tiger Woods' father threw firecrackers during his backswing to make him focus. Most stars of sports where youth is served hard (tennis, swimming, gymnastics, boxing, ice skating) and individualistic seem, at best, warped to a "normal" outlook. Every pro poker player you've ever seen on television seems like a spooky math and/or gambling freak. And so on, and so on.

When Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and untold hundreds more were using steroids, they weren't all lacking in integrity. Hell, they probably were able to justify it all in the same sacrifice for the team credo that athletes have used to motivate themselves since sports (and, well, war) began. (And whether or not a nation's soldiers should be given carte blanche to juice up is a whole 'nother kettle of inedible ethics fish. Let's stay on what passes for the target.)

Having integrity doesn't make you moral. Taking steroids when any number of opponents were doing so as well... might not even be unethical, because ethics are dependent on the individual.

But what they are, and this is key, is a perversion -- an unplanned, ad hoc, unfairly administered perversion -- away from intimacy and honesty, and into Extreme Fun.

And here's the nasty truth that no one wants to admit in this whole mess. We, the MLB-watching public, were much more interested in buying the lie. And until we take our share of the blame, and admit it, and refuse to buy the fake crap... well, everyone's just going to figure out a better way to cheat.

After all, no one's gotten poor from selling Viagra, right?

1 comment:

Tracer Bullet said...

You're analogy is flawed. It's entirely possible to be honest about Viagra. Shit, there are middle-aged douchebags on my teevee singing about it. And if you think the drug is an impediment to intimacy, try seeing how intimate she's willing to be if you can't get good wood (I'm speaking purely hypothetically, of course . . . It happens to lots of guys . . . FUCK YOU).

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