It’s time for sport to turn the page on the dark times. The moment is at hand for a renaissance and a return to basics.
Let’s give the people who run sport an arbitrary date — make it Jan. 1, 2010 — to get their collective houses in order. By then make it mandatory to identify the rules of fair play, standardize equipment and ban outright the use of performance enhancing drugs.
Then, once everything is clear and everyone knows the score, let’s start the record books anew and make it plain that while there were great athletes in the past capable of accomplishing remarkable things, we are entering an age of enlightenment.
Make it a blank sheet — a brand new start — and let’s believe in sport again.
Reading that the magnificent Hank Aaron is willing to allow drug cheats into baseball’s Hall of Fame and their home run records to stand as long as there is an asterisk on the accompanying plaque is a sad commentary on where sport has gone.
So is that fact that more than 40 world records fell at the recent swimming championships in Rome because athletes en masse decided to wear flotation devices that allowed them to shatter hard won standards.
The golden age of the amateur is long gone, but that doesn’t mean we should allow sport to be hijacked by scientists and shady characters whose sole purpose in life is to turn the athletic pursuit into a seedy business venture. Instead of beating the odds, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, we’ve got a bunch of hucksters eager to beef up the bottom line while the consumers pay the price.
Sport deserves better than that.
Only by allowing the record books to be completely rewritten will we understand what we love about sport in the first place. Lasting champions do what they do because they display more talent, have a greater drive or a stronger will to win.
Let’s not read about asterisks in convoluted statistical recitations of who did what with the help of which steroid or polyurethane body suit. Let’s instead stage a revolution and make sport pure.
Only by beginning again will the record books tell the real story of sport.
– Scott Russell is the Host of CBC Sports Weekend seen Saturday afternoons. He has covered professional and amateur sports including nine Olympic games and numerous world championships.
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