Fans must move on from scandals

sideline commentary

Mike Woods
Mike Woods

With all the scandal surrounding professional sports over the past few months, it’s easy for even the most forgiving fan to become disillusioned with them altogether.

One of the world’s most talented football players, Michael Vick, is facing certain jail time due to his involvement in an illegal dog-fighting organization. Barry Bonds surpassed the Major League Baseball record of 755 career homers last month, but his alleged role in the sport’s doping scandal will, for some, forever leave an asterisk beside his name. And basketball referee Tim Donaghy pleaded guilty to gambling and providing bettors with inside information on NBA games, including those in which he was officiating.

Given all of these discouraging events, sports fans, both casual and passionate, must ask themselves: why do we watch sports when the results may be tainted and the athletes corrupt?

At first glance, there is no easy answer. Being a sports fan has always been an irrational practice. To emotionally invest oneself in something over which one has no control seems foolhardy. When sports are continually rocked by scandal and humiliation, the simplest approach would be to abandon them altogether.

And yet, we keep coming back.

For every sports scandal that is nationally publicized, there are many positive stories that fly under the radar. One only has to do a little digging to discover the reason why sport is more relevant than ever.

Recently, a number of Canadian teenage hockey players participated in an eight-game series against their Russian counterparts, winning seven games and tying one. They weren’t playing for money or fame—only for pride, their country and each other.

In June, the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup thanks in large part to playoff MVP Scott Niedermayer, who had taken less money for the sole chance to play on the same team as his brother Rob.

And a story that is even less publicized, but far closer to home: Queen’s varsity athletes. Regular students practice for long hours, in some cases paying for their equipment and travel, in order to have the chance to practice their passion.

Sport is all about the moments that make us feel like we’re part of the action. At Queen’s, we’re fortunate to have the chance to experience sport as it was originally meant to be—athletes playing for pride in their university and in their teams, not their chequebooks.

So if students are fed up with professional sports, they have the good old Queen’s bubble to turn to. With so much talent on this year’s varsity teams, it’s an opportunity not to be missed.

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