The 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame class was selected on the same day Bobby Petrino was given his second go-round at Louisville by athletic director Tom Jurich.
While the circumstances and factors affecting each decision vary greatly, so does the ethical thought process implemented by both parties.
Less than two years ago, Petrino was the head football coach at Arkansas in the almighty SEC when he crashed his motorcycle, which was also carrying 25-year-old Jessica Dorell.
Dorell had been hired as student-athlete coordinator for the team just a week before the accident. The mysterious nature of her and Petrino’s relationship was eventually made known; she was his mistress, and their affair allegedly blossomed into a comfortable salary for Dorell.
Petrino lost his job less than a week later, and the one-time NFL head coach had ostensibly committed career suicide. He was given a chance to resurrect a floundering Western Kentucky program without much public backlash.
That was until the mass media realized that Louisville was ready to forgive all.
The same day Petrino’s newly entrusted role was leaked, the self-proclaimed protectors of integrity, who determine Hall of Fame entrance, climbed upon their high horses.
Out of a 354-game winner, – Roger Clemens – both of the men that revitalized the game by clubbing 66 and 70 home runs respectively during the infamous record-breaking season of 1998 – Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire – and the all-time home run record holder – Barry Bonds – none of them even came close to receiving enough votes.
I’m fine with the asterisk, or whatever black mark you want to associate with the accomplishments of the steroid era, but forgetting them altogether?
I’ll admit, I couldn’t have cared less about baseball prior to the steroid era. The long ball not only captured my attention, it also captivated my interest in America’s pastime.
And now those years of watching players’ heads grow astronomical amounts are forged into my knowledge of the history of the game.
I don’t want to give them up, and it pains me to watch pretentious writers, that perhaps invest a passing interest in the game, pretend that their feats mean nothing. To me, those feats meant everything.
So on the day of Jan. 8, 2014, while some people in Tallahassee, Fla. continued to deliriously celebrate a national championship, which was delivered by an accused rapist, and Jurich denounced his statements of “winning with integrity” by hiring a man willing to use his administration’s dime to finance his mistress’ needs, Hall of Fame voters refused to recognize the excellence of athletes that followed the rules of their era.
What has created this double standard in sports, and why do some athletes get a pass, while others are perceived as conniving cheaters?
I wish I had the answer. Every person in power has the right to make difficult decisions for which he or she has stewardship.
Hopefully, they’re still consulting their conscience. Maybe they lose sleep at night. It’s possible that they threw their moral compasses out a long time ago.
All I ask is that we not treat steroid era “vile cheaters” as if they committed some heinous crime for which they now must pay.
There wasn’t testing in place and it wasn’t even against the rules when they outdid our expectations. If smart coaches like Petrino are no longer accountable for malicious behavior, let’s not act like it’s our place to judge athletes seeking an edge in their field.
However you see it, individuals that carelessly use the extremes of ethical reasoning to highlight an evident hypocrisy will never be taken seriously, unless they earn a Hall of Fame vote.
Kyle is a junior at UVU, studying journalism. He works at KSL as a writer/content manager and previously wrote for weareutahjazz.com. He is originally from Colorado Springs, Colo., where most of his family resides. In his free time Kyle enjoys hiking, playing the sports he writes about, reading and obsessively following his professional teams, to which he is unwaveringly loyal. You can follow him @kyledspencer.