Last night, Barry Bonds passed Hank Aaron’s all-time homerun mark of 755—a record that has stood for nearly 40 years. Amid all of the media scrutiny regarding the Giant slugger’s alleged steroid use, is anyone really happy about Bonds’s extaordinary accomplishment? Here’s how the New York Times reported the feat.
Cheating in baseball or any sport is wrong. Just ask Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose. Yet, when did we stop giving athletes, or any celebrity for that matter, the benefit of a doubt?
We know from “tell all” books published after their deaths, that legendary players Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle often played with hangovers. Years earlier, Ty Cobb may have beaten a man to death during his playing days. At the time, reporters following these respective players and their teams, individuals that no doubt “knew the score,” looked the other way. In more contemporary times, including those we live in today, a mere allegation, even from a suspect individual, often becomes front page news before any factual due diligence even begins.
As we have written here before, our fascination with celebrity news and scandal continues to be fed every day to the detriment of true journalism. Just as detrimental: the dearth of heroes and role models for today’s youth. Is it the fault of prima donna athletes or overzealous media? Whichever, whomever, when a hallowed record is broken we should be cheering, not wondering.