A steroid scandal has rocked major baseball for a decade now, and football finds itself dealing with lawsuits over the brutality many say are inherent to the game. Why do athletes play such games and do such things to their bodies?
Simply, to win. But is winning worth all that? Is it worth putting dangerous chemicals in your body? Is it worth bigger, faster, stronger and risking debilitating lifelong injuries simply to play a game?
We would like to think that no sane person would do it, except that there are many presumably sane people who do. It isn't all on the players, either. It's about the entire culture which surrounds modern professional sports. They are, after all, entertainment, with all that entails. That means money, that means responding to what the fans want; that means that should the fans want more violence then they shall have it.
This is hardly civilized behavior. It doesn't ultimately matter how 'clean' a hit is if there's a substantial chance of injury during the play. A moon shot may seem very impressive but when it comes with the risk of long term disability it really ought not be acclaimed. If a Super Bowl ring comes at the cost of having a mind scrambled when an ex-NFLer is in his fifties, we need to start questioning whether it is worth it or whether we ought to encourage it.
Spare us the the shallow and self serving excuse, for it is nothing but an excuse, that no one made them do it, because someone did. We, the fans, did. This is not to excuse the athlete who pushes himself too hard or too far. But it is a mitigating factor.
We need to remember these things are just games. It doesn't matter how much money or prestige is at stake. They're just games. They need to be seen in that light. As it is, we're simply a shadow of the Roman Empire with its gladiators and blood lust. Or perhaps we're something worse, because we seem to be fooling ourselves that we are not. At least the gladiators weren't delusional.