We ask too much of our athletes and not enough of our leaders


The sporting world was witness to a historic week, the likes of which make me rejoice for being alive in these modern times.

We saw what might be the greatest Super Bowl ever played, a game of can you top this between Kobe and LeBron played out on basketball’s most glamorous stage, another great installment of the best rivalry in sports (sorry Sox and Yanks fans, I’m talking C’s and Lake Show) and a legendary coach reaching a hostric milestone.

But what has grabbed our attention more than any of these has been the photo of a swimmer, the urine of a slugger and a running back in a rap video.

I am a California resident. Not so long ago our state voted, in a statewide election, to legalize the use of marijuana for medial purposes. Meaning any of us who live in this great state and pay taxes are more than welcome to see our physician and they, in turn, can prescribe an illegal substance for legal use.

As a California resident and die hard sports fan, I follow all things local. Some years ago I watched a track star and All-American running back at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks named Justin Fargas. He was known as the son of an actor, but made his own name as a state champion on the track and as an elusive back on the field. After sustaining a career threatening injury at the University of Michigan, Fargas returned to his roots and attended USC. He would help Pete Carroll win a national title and was later drafted by my Oakland Raiders.

As a resident of California, and a tax paying citizen of the state, Fargas made headlines this week for appearing in a rap video with fellow Bay Area native, and state tax payer, Yukmouth in which the “advocacy of smoking marijuana” was a central theme.

For the record, as an entire state and through the democratic process, we as citizens of California have advocated marijuana. Yet we have singled out one of our own for exercising his right as a tax paying citizen. Mind you, Fargas never does consume any of the legal/illegal substance in the video. Instead, it is the rapper who is doing so and not the athlete. Guilt by association I suppose.  

On the other side of the nation, in a state where marijuana is illegal under any circumstances, a 14 time Olympic gold medalist has brought shame to his family for appearing in a photo face first in a bong.

Now I am not advocating the use of marijuana, but I will say this to Michael Phelps. As far as I’m concerned, you need only to make apologies to your family and friends and owe nothing to the rest of us. You’ve represented your country and given us all a reason to take pride in the colors of our flag as we’ve seen it hoisted above your head and watched as you stood proud to the tune of our anthem. You, sir, are guilty of stupidity and nothing else. I offer you this sage advice. White Owls, Optimos, Swishers. Should you appear in a photo with any of these, you will always have a chance. There is no defending a bong.

Finally, we spent this week obsessing over a urine sample from Barry Bonds that has been sitting in a refrigerator, like some can of cheap domestic beer, for almost a decade. As we speak, Federal agents are using our money to send a baseball player to prison for steroid use.

It was no secret that Bonds was on the juice. Any collector of baseball cards needed only to look at the progression of his stats on the back of the card and then flip the card over and compare the recent photo to that of his rookie year to suspect something was amiss.

What was a secret until this week, was how much money the man whose job it is to police Bonds was making. Bud Selig, commissioner of Major League Baseball, took home a cool $18 million last year. As Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles times pointed out, Mr. Selig’s salary was about $7 million more than the commissioner of the NFL. For the record, the NFL is financially head and shoulders above all other sports in the United States. Except for a few franchises in baseball, most all franchises in football are in another league in regards to their value. That’s right! Chances are the Detroit Lions are worth more than your favorite baseball team.

We say our athletes have a responsibility to those of us who help pay their salaries, to uphold the morals of society and be a role model to our youth. We tell them that their job is to set the example. Yet we allow those who are paid $18 million to oversee these athletes to do whatever is necessary to make their sport better.

Today, in that oval office in Washington DC, President Obama is mulling over a plan to salvage our dying economy whose spine has been broken in two by scandalous fund managers, greedy business owners and risk taking bankers. Yet the livelihood of Michael Phelps has been suspended for three months and Barry Bonds could face jail time while Bernie Madoff and Bud Selig are free to live their extravert lives at the expense of others.


Chris Shellcroft

Next Raiders Game Full schedule »
Sunday, Oct 2626 Oct4:25at Cleveland BrownsBuy Tickets

Tags: Barack Obama Barry Bonds Bernie Madoff Bill Plaschke Bud Selig Justin Fargas Kobe Bryant LeBron James Michael Phelps

comments powered by Disqus