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Baseball is held to a higher PED standard: so what?

Jun 17, 2009, 11:02 AM EST

Bud Selig says what everyone else already knows:

Commissioner Bud Selig said that baseball draws more attention and
criticism for its steroid revelations than does football during a radio
interview on Tuesday.

“We are held to a higher and different standard,” Selig said during a 17-minute appearance on the Dan Patrick Show.

The Commissioner engaged in discussion of the NFL’s Pittsburgh
Steelers, whose four-time Super Bowl championship teams from 1975-80
have been alleged to have conducted in widespread use of steroids and
included players who later admitted to using performance-enhancing
drugs. “We have to be very careful that we don’t overreact to a
situation,” Selig said. “For instance, the comment in football that
came out about the great Steelers teams of the ‘. Should they take
those Super Bowls away from the Rooneys? I don’t think so.

I don’t know that we should be surprised about the different standards,
and I don’t know that we should even be bothered by them. At least not
too terribly.

It’s a fact that baseball lagged way behind football in instituting
its testing regime, and to large degrees was dragged kicking and
screaming into the testing world. When that happens, you have to expect
that you’re going to be criticized. This is especially true given that,
because of the delay in getting to where we are now, baseball caused
itself to go through a series of high-profile reveals (Bonds, Clemens,
A-Rod, Sosa, the whole of the Mitchell Report) that football never had
to endure.

As for the criticism itself? I view it as akin to the difference
between having a parent who’s hard on you as opposed to having one that
doesn’t give a crap. Sure, neither is ideal, but there’s something good
to be said about people caring enough about the integrity of baseball,
its records, and the health of its players to criticize the game, even
if they go overboard about it from time to time. It tells me that
baseball still matters to people, and that’s important. As for
football? I get the sense that people largely don’t care about such
issues. They simply want to be entertained, and it’s far more
entertaining to watch faceless, gigantic dudes bash into one another
than to see smaller guys do it.

Given that they change the rules and the length of the seasons every
couple of decades, there is little magic to the NFL record book. What’s
worse, given how short the average NFL career is, there is little
opportunity for fans to get close to the players. I question whether a
large number of NFL fans know or care just how damaging the sport is to
the men who play it. I question whether they realize the alarmingly
high mortality rate among NFL players from the 70s and 80s. If they
did, one would think that there would be far more scrutiny of PEDs in
football — PEDs that almost certainly still persist no matter how long
the testing regime has been in place — than there currently is. But it
isn’t there, and that tells you something about the average football
fan or writer’s reltionship to the game.

So even if I, like Bud Selig, occasionally note the unfairness of
baseball’s heightened standard, I’m more or less fine with it, and Bud
should be too. Baseball is a better game than football in my view, and
the passions it provokes are merely evidence of its underlying
greatness.

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