Holier-than-thou sports writers and fans often like to spout off on asterisks and record books. As if there’s this Holy Bible of sports that people read each and every Sunday morning.
But even Biff Tannen knows that hard-copy sports almanacs are outdated in 2016, and that the Internet is the place where folks go to find “facts” even though there’s no Twitter-like, check-mark verification for a 100 percent true website.
Stat geeks can go to sites like Baseball-Reference.com to get info, but even those sites don’t tell the full story. Barry Bonds, who is considered by most to be the filthiest major athlete of the past 25 years, does not have an asterisk next to his name - and there’s a reason for that of course.
Asterisks are stupid.
When it comes to sports, in particular, asterisks are wholly subjective. For example - growing up around here it’s been passed down from generations of football fans that the 1970s Steelers were all on steroids and cheated their way to Super Bowl titles. Whoever the editor is right now at ESPN.com’s Super Bowl Winners and Results page does not hold that same sentiment, however. Those Steelers teams really were champions, at least according to the editor of ESPN.com’s Super Bowl Winners and Results page.
Last year during the height of Deflategate chatter, NFL.com writers ranked the top 10 quarterbacks in the league. Bucky Brooks (no way that’s his real name), placed Tom Brady at No. 5 and gave him an asterisk. The other two writers who did the exercise did not use an asterisk for Brady.
Obviously, it’s not the NFL’s official opinion that Brady is a cheater … yet (kidding). The NFL does not have asterisks sitting next to the Patriots’ four Super Bowl wins on their official list of champions nor do they have asterisks next to Brady’s name on their all-time MVP list. So, as of now, Tom Brady is a four-time Super Bowl champion … at least according to the editor of NFL.com’s lists of Super Bowl champions and MVPs.
In 2016, asterisks (and often even ‘facts’) really only exist in the mind.
Go to WhiteHouse.Gov and there is no asterisk next to Richard Nixon’s name on the list of U.S. presidents. His presidency officially existed, at least according to WhiteHouse.Gov.
Fact and opinion are routinely blurred especially when it comes to politics and sports these days. People want to believe what they want to believe and there’s no official person or book in 2016 that cements things as record. In 2036, Brady will still have won that fourth Super Bowl trophy on Feb. 1, 2015 - so long as a Jets fan is not the editor of NFL.com at that point in time.
This is why when someone says, “this or that will go down in history,” I always say, “I guess?”
Everyone has their own different recollection of history. So, the next time some lazy writer or fan trots out the word, “asterisk,” come back at ’em with an even more tired sports cliché.
Tell ’em to “throw out the record books.” Because, as a society, we really already have.