A 'Level Playing Field' for the Super Bowl

Given the serious and seemingly intractable problems facing America, one of the more shameful spectacles in recent years has been the congressional hearings on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports. Congress has more urgent business to attend to than parading our sports heroes before the public, tainting and casting doubt on their achievements, and almost daring them to lie under oath. Let pro sports police itself. What’s legal in pro sports shouldn’t be within the purview of Congress; it doesn’t concern those showboating old fuddy-duddies. Harry Reid isn’t man enough to hoist Mark McGwire’s jockstrap off the locker room floor.

Be that as it may, many sports fans get upset when certain hallowed and long-held records are broken by athletes who’ve had an “unfair” advantage in gaining the top spot that the previous record holders didn’t have. A prime example is baseball’s single-season home run record, where recent owners of the record are suspected of taking anabolic steroids and other synthetics that weren’t available to Babe Ruth. Some think that an athlete who has an unnatural edge due to pumping himself full of performance-enhancing drugs is undermining the integrity of an athletic contest. They want their athletes to be natural so that their sport can be “pure.”

The ancient dynamic of sports might be summed up like this: “may the better man win.” Sports are supposed to demonstrate just who the better man (or team) is, at least on Game Day.

But there are so many variables that determine who the “better man” is. There’s the variable of natural physical endowment. One man is always bigger or stronger than the other. In some sports, that can sometimes be overcome by a man who is quicker or has more agility. And a man might be able to overcome an opponent with a greater natural physical endowment by having a better training regimen. In sports that involve strategy, the smarter man might be able to best a bigger, stronger, or faster opponent. And then there are the intangibles, such as motivation and desire. The man who is hungrier for victory might just get it, even though he’s kind of scrawny compared to the behemoth he’s facing.

The concern of certain sports purists with unfair advantage probably stems from America’s obsession with “equality.” But equality in sports is fairly daft. If we wanted perfectly matched (i.e. equal) football teams, the teams would need to consist of sets of identical clones, with each set of clones separated to play against each other on opposing teams. And all the other variables, such as training, nutrition, etc., would also need to be the same. The Bokanofsky process, however, hasn’t yet been perfected, so the perfectly matched “game of clones” is impossible right now. But what would such a contest prove anyway: which team has the better playbook?

Sports teams are never even remotely matched. One team will always be bigger, stronger, or faster than its opposition. That’s the way of all flesh. So the purists’ concern with advantage is misplaced. Indeed, one might say the whole idea behind sport is to demonstrate who has the advantage.

The whole idea of training, all that time spent on the practice field and in the gym, is precisely to gain an advantage. The athlete who trains harder, or who has the smarter workout regimen, may gain an advantage over a more gifted opponent. The athlete who is more disciplined and who doesn’t carouse and cat around at nightclubs might just beat his dissipated biologic betters.

If we wanted our sports to be completely natural, then an athlete who gets some operation to repair, say, a knee or rotator cuff, would have to retire. And if we really cared about a “level playing field,” would we allow bionic men like Oscar Pistorius to compete? Someday prosthetics will advance to such a point that amputees will be able to run faster than runners with natural biologic legs. Blade runners will have an unnatural advantage, and we’ll have to ratchet back the technology just to make it fair.

Ironically, there is a type of equality in pro sports: performance-enhancing drugs. If all pro athletes were using such substances, then that would tend to level the proverbial playing field. Besides, today’s athletes need a little help from synthetics due to the presence in the environment of feminizing synthetics like phthalates, which reduce testosterone.

Phthalates are doing a number on everyone’s nads. We’re all suffering from Low-T and must take testosterone supplements to boost our manliness. Since we’re all “juicers” now, it seems a bit hypocritical to want to deny pro sports athletes the performance enhancers we ourdamnselves are using. Who are we to criticize pro ball?

Bert Bell, NFL Commissioner from 1945-1959, came up with a little maxim that Hollywood used in a movie title: Any Given Sunday. I can’t advise you on the movie as I haven’t screened it, but Bell’s maxim went like this: “On any given Sunday, any team in the NFL can beat any other team.”

Right, and “on any given Sunday” any horse can beat Secretariat.

Perhaps Bell was trying to express the ideal that NFL teams should be as evenly matched as possible; that each team should get its “fair share” of the talent. Actually, with their draft system, the NFL makes a fair effort to insure that all their teams are competitive. Nonetheless, some teams still become dominant. When that happens, the draft system tries to end a team’s dominance, even things up, and level the playing field.

There are two kinds of games that aren’t much fun to watch. There are the games where the teams are so evenly matched that not much happens, and there’s not much scoring. Then there are the games where one team is so hugely outmatched that it gets rolled over. We see this occasionally in high school blowouts. It’s considered unsportsmanlike to run up the score too much over an inferior team.

The more interesting games are when two teams have different strengths; one team might be bigger and stronger, and the other might be faster. We like to see the scrappy little guys outplay the big dudes.

Some are born with “unfair” advantages; the gods have smiled on them. Who are we to question the judgment of the gods? Today, Tom Brady will take more than his “fair share” of points, as is his “divine” right; anything else would violate the natural order of the universe, and would offend the gods. It’s not nice to offend the gods. So let us mortals also smile upon Mr. Brady and rejoice. Go Patriots.

Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City. The opinions expressed in this article are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of American Thinker.

If you experience technical problems, please write to helpdesk@americanthinker.com