On February 13, the hottest ticket in
Every network led its news broadcast with dramatic footage of Clemens and his former trainer, Brian McNamee, contradicting each other, under oath, about whether Clemens had ever used steroids or Human Growth Hormone (HGH). And every network echoed what
Somebody is lying.
The networks called on their legal analysts to comment on the fact that the CIA and FBI were in the room listening to the testimony and that whoever lied under oath in testimony before Congress could possibly go to jail for perjury. Each network echoed the refrain of, “It's a case of he said, he said,” indicating that it was a toss up as to whose testimony was more believable.
The Washington Post had a slightly different take  on the sordid mess. In a piece which ran in the Style section of the February 14 edition, DeNeen Brown asked a broader question: how much is our culture of “enhanced expectations” to blame for the steroid scandal that has infected and impacted sports as a whole?
Brown wrote about the revolving-door aspect of the Clemens hearing, describing how baseball fans and the curious were ushered into the hearing in 20-minute rotations to see it first-hand. Over the course of the testimony Brown interviewed several teenaged boys about their perceptions of the scandal and the cultural forces that may be, at least somewhat, responsible. Here is what they said:
· Waiting his turn to squeeze in to see the Clemens spectacle, Jonathan Wagner, 16, an 11th grader from
· Outside the hearing room, Tyler Walker, 16, a 10th-grade student from
· Zach Goddard, 16, another 11th-grader from
Sometimes the voices of our children speak louder than the cacophony of allegations, accusations, testimony and legalese. We have a generation of children growing up who expect athletes to cheat. How do we teach our kids to be people of good character when their idols do the very things we tell them are wrong? Whether through sports stars or entertainers, the media expose our children daily to stories about celebrities who lie, cheat, do drugs, drive drunk, have kids out of wedlock and bring shame on themselves in new and creative ways almost every day. It is a gargantuan effort to counterprogram those messages.
It will be some time before investigators determined who lied and the Clemens steroid scandal is put to rest. In the meantime professional baseball has been tarnished. In fact all professional sports have been tarnished. And any future athletes who perform exceptionally will have clouds of doubt hanging over their heads. It's time for sports fans to look in the mirror and ask themselves what they've done to contribute to the mess. As one of the young men quoted in the Post's story said, “We want to see big plays all the time.” The question that follows should be, “At what cost?”