In today's sports world it seems more often than not, perception is reality. It doesn't matter if the rumors being spread have any facts to them, it only matters what sells. With controversy around every corner in today's sports world, it's the fans who are being cheated. Whether it be steroids, cheating coaches, or cheating referees, every professional sports league has it's issues. With all this controversy casting doubt on our sports teams, I find myself wondering if integrity in sports is a thing of the past?
As the NBA season is coming to an end, much attention is being paid to the recent unfoldings of its referee controversy. Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy has pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy charges. In July of 2007, Donaghy admitted to FBI agents that he passed on inside information on NBA games. Donaghy also implicates other NBA referees in altering the outcomes of games in the '02 and '05 postseason. NBA commissioner David Stern continues his stance that Donaghy was a "rogue" referee, but in light of the FBI's findings, Donaghy's statments have been deemed truthful. The unwillingness of the league to release it's own internal investigation findings makes this whole situation even more confusing. Why is Comissioner Stern unwilling to release the internal findings? Is he covering something up? Does he not understand that this cotroversy is ruining the image of the NBA? As a fan of the NBA I hear all these rumors about the league being behind these fixed games in order to drum up some ticket sales and TV ratings. The rumors may not be true, but the damage has been done. Too many fans have this cloud of doubt looming over their head. Too many fans feel that games are not being played on a level playing field. If the fans don't believe in the integrity of the game, then perception has become reality.
The NFL and MLB are no stranger to contorversy either. Whether it be steroid use or cheating coaches, both leagues have come under fire recently. These allegations of cheating coaches, players and referees seem all too common in todays sports world. So lets call it what it actually is, fraud. It's fraud on a grand scale. Millions of fans have been misled to believe their professional sports teams are competing on a level playing field. In a world where integrity takes a back seat to ticket sales and TV rating, the fans are left to wonder, what is real? Is the NFL, MLB and NBA the same as the WWE? The WWE definitly has steroid use, cheating ref's and circus atmosphere. The only differance is, the WWE openly admits it's in the "sports entertainment" buiseness. The Fans of the WWE know what to expect. The Fans of our professional sports teams do not expect the same circus atmosphere you get in the WWE, but thats what their getting.
I get it. I get that professional sports teams are a cash cow and that it's a buisiness. Curruption in sports is nothing new. Referees have altered games, players have shaved points, taken performance enhancing drugs and coaches have done dispicable things to gain an edge for there teams. However, it seems to have taken a turn for the worse lately. For example, "Spygate," the congressional hearings about steroid use, and "rogue" referees; what affect is this having on the fans? It's making it impossible to appreciate the game and the competativness. Anytime there is a questionable call, non-call, an athlete having an exceptional year, or team making history, there is that nagging question. Did they cheat? Even if the person or team in question is totaly innocent, perception in sports is reality, and right now nobody gets the bennefit of the doubt.