Yesterday's baseball Hall of Fame shutout is yet one more disappointment for sports fans forcing to reevaluate the nature of competition. The world is now radically transparent, leaving no place for cheaters to hide. The Hall of fame disappointment is just the latest example of the dwindling tolerance that institutions and the public have for these athletes. One wonders, with the almost certainty of getting caught and the guaranteed public scorn, is it still worth it to cheat?
Two of this year's freshman nominees, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, fell far short of the 75% of votes needed. Bonds only received 36.2% and Clemens fared only slightly better, garnering 37.6%. As a result, there will be no new members inducted this year, the first time since 1996. As the New York Times noted, "For a sport whose links to performance-enhancing drugs have forced it to endure Congressional hearing, public apologies from players, tell-all books and federal trials, Wednesday offered a profound moment." Indeed, it emphasized the lingering damage that the legacy of performance enhancing drugs has inflicted on baseball.
Both Bonds' and Clemons' career statistics speak for themselves. Over a 22 year career, Barry Bonds hit a record 762 home runs. Since his career began in 1984 with the Boston Red Sox, Roger Clemens has pitched 46 shutout games. But with the suspicion cast on their careers, two of baseball's greatest players may never be officially recognized in the Hall of Fame. Voters have expressed a desire to keep the Hall of Fame as clean as possible. One voter explained, "'My vote is an endorsement of a career, not part of it, and how it was achieved. Voting for a known steroid user is endorsing steroid use.'"
In our Athena Doctrine study, we found that an overwhelming 82% of adults agreed that they would rather be respected than wealthy. After seeing the careers of legendary athletes such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens called into question because of doping allegations; we must recognize that in an increasingly transparent world, respect may be a better measure of success than wealth. As we see new generations of sports superstars come to the forefront, we hope as sports fans that they try to win at all costs except that of their ethics and reputation.