Thursday, September 13, 2007

Christine Brennan's Double Standard

USA Today columnist Christine Brennan has a curious double standard when it comes to cheating in baseball vs. cheating in football.

When it comes to steroids in baseball, Brennan's tone is one of betrayal as she tries to imagine a world that has not gone mad and where children aren't corrupted while desperately trying to imagine how wonderful everything would have been if this horrible nightmare hadn't occurred:

Think, for a moment, about how different our view of steroids in sports would be if we never knew that Barry Bonds said he took performance-enhancing drugs. Can you picture how this nation's lack of knowledge on a topic as important as steroid use might have played out? . . . Instead, we know . . . Parents know. Children know. Coaches and teachers know . . . The U.S. Congress knows and has held hearings that have revealed to us the true character of at least two other former heroes, McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro . . .What the Chronicle did — unwittingly of course, by just breaking the news — was trigger a nationwide awareness of a steroid problem that has trickled down to our children in numbers far too large to ignore.

When it comes to Belichick's videotaping of the Jets' signals -- which, unlike steroids before 2004, is clearly in violation of explicit NFL rules -- Brennan laughs it off as an "antic" and takes a walk down memory lane:

But no one should be surprised. There's cheating in the NFL? That's news? Wouldn't it be more newsworthy if there were no cheating in the NFL? New England, in particular, has developed a bit of a history for this kind of antic. Once every 25 years, the Patriots produce a head coach who decides that he must use all the technology available to him to win a football game.

In recalling the famous snow plow game against the Dolphins from 1982, Brennan adopts the tone of a father who catches his son stashing Playboys between the mattresses. "That little rapscallion! Heh, I guess he thought he'd pull a fast one on me [flip, flip, flip] . . .ah, I remember when I was 14 . . ."

I would have no problem with the double standard if Brennan would make an effort to explain the basis for it. Instead, even in the Belichick column, she makes a passing reference to steroids as being in a class all their own, while practically laughing off all other forms of cheating as "antics" that, while worthy of punishment, don't' cause her to implore us to think of the children.

While one could very well mount a legitimate case that steroids represent a different and more sinister form of cheating than secret videotaping, spitballs, pine tar, and other forms of rule-breaking and trickery, Brennan can't be bothered to make it. As such, one is left to wonder if her differing treatment of the two issues is based on a preference for football over baseball, a preference for Bill Belichick over Barry Bonds, or both.

What say you, Christine?


Lise said...

Why, George, your "slip" is showing.
adjust your hem accOrdingly.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with Christine always, but generally I do. She's right on Clemons here and in this specific column. But if she ever suggested diminishing Belichick's cheating as an "antic", then she's lost it. I think the NFL and the general media gave him and the Pats a pass on this while hammering Bonds. Dare I cry racism? It's cheating no matter how you spin it. Finally, what I found amazing is that Christine could write about Clemons and steroids in baseball and NOT mention Bonds anywhere in the article. Unreal, Bonds just has to be LHAO since the Mitchell report.