Raising Hell – From the desk of Nathan Hellman

On the surface, sports are simple games, unsophisticated enough that children can take part in playgrounds and blacktops across the globe.

On the surface, sports are simple games, unsophisticated enough that children can take part in playgrounds and blacktops across the globe. But, beneath this rudimentary veneer, sports shed light on some of society’s greatest splendors and gravest realities.

The world of sports has provided many memorable moments:

-Michael Jordan captivating an entire country to capture six world championships

-The USA hockey team defeating the heavily favored USSR in the 1980 Olympics

-Tiger Woods winning The Masters a mere week after his father passed

However, this past week, the same world that has delighted sports fans with such spectacles has abhorred us with stories of torture, gambling and cheating:

-Michael Vick, Falcons’ quarterback and NFL icon, indicted for dog fighting

-Veteran NBA referee Tim Donaghy suspected of gambling on games

-Barry Bonds, who has been repeatedly accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, is now just three homers away from breaking the most hallowed record in sports

Sports’ double-edged sword has left fans enraged and embarrassed.

Let’s forget about these spoiled athletes for a second. It seems like the spotlight is always shining brightest on their faces.

Should Vick take a leave of absence this season? Is Donaghy involved with the mafia? Will there be an asterisk placed beside Bonds’ homerun record?

Who cares? They’re the bad apples. These guys made poor choices and should deal with the consequences, plain and simple.

The real concern should be the fans. We are witnessing our heroes, the athletes we cheer for and devote many hours to, completely destroy our sports. And sports do belong to us. We’ve just forgotten that the jerseys and tickets we purchase–the games many of us place ahead of our most pressing priorities–are what fuel the sports world.

I’m tired of seeing mug shots plastered all over the television screen. I’m sick of the discussions regarding whether an athlete’s misconduct warrants suspension. I’ve grown to loathe the courtroom analysis and “Law 101” classes taught by lawyers on SportsCenter.

The sports I enjoy and remember are about competition, pageantry, entertainment value and the beauty of gifted athletes banding together to pursue a common goal.

Somewhere along the line we’ve lost this sense of sports. The spirit of sports has become extinct and it appears there’s no remedy to reinvent it.

Athletes are earning too much money. They feel the world is at their fingertips, making them exempt from common law and policy. They strongly believe fans will continue to endure the drug allegations, perjury charges and heinous acts. In their minds, fans are here to serve them.

Presently, that’s the case. Fans are expected to support athletes through the thick and thin. I’m unsure how much longer this will last before these unlawful incidents amass and surpass most fans’ tolerance threshold.

With images of PETA marching and picketing at the NFL headquarters in New York to display their displeasure with Vick’s alleged dog fighting–and entire ballparks booing Bonds, the imminent homerun king–the future of sports looks grim and bleak.

It’s no longer about the fans or competition. Instead it’s about violence, court trials and jail time.

Begging the question, sports fan: what’s your boiling point?