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Scandals – Are They Really Bad For Sports?

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Over the past few weeks, the NBA and its loyal fan base have been in an uproar over the recent Donaghy point shaving scandal. So much so, that my ears are still ringing with questions like ‘What does this mean for the NBA’s future?’ and ‘As fans, can we still trust that games are not being fixed?’ Being presented these questions, I ask myself whether or not a scandal can truly ruin a sport, as insinuated by this recent barrage of questions. But then I think, how many scandals have there been in the history of sports? Countless. Just open the newspaper and you will likely see the latest wave of star athletes appear in the police beat. And how many sports have crashed and burned as a result of these improprieties? Not a single one. Has Barry Bonds and his steroid scandal rocked the world of baseball? No. The MLB has simply implemented more stringent rules. Did Ray Lewis’ double -homocide charge bring down the NFL? No. Even when the ‘Great One,’ Wayne Gretzky, was linked to a hockey betting ring, the NHL came out unscathed. And let’s face it, no one really cared about hockey in the first place. So you would think that a scandal involving the NHL’s most celebrated player would have been the nail in the proverbial coffin. Yet, hockey is still going strong.

What can we learn in light of this evidence? We learn that SCANDALS DON”T RUIN SPORTS!!! They may ruin individual careers or knock down sports heroes from the elevated pedestals on which we, the fans, have put them, but scandals do not ruin sports. The fact that every major sport has survived is proof enough that scandals are really not all that bad.

So, now that it has been established that sports will continue to exist even in the face of the negative light that the occasional malfeasance casts them in, another question arises - are scandals good for sports? I would tend to think that they are. Here’s why?

The true, die hard fan of any sport is not going to going to be turned off by scandals. Take me for instance. I live for soccer. The spectacle of of 22 skilled athletes playing their way up an down a soccer pitch is absolutely exhilirating. That Maradona, one of soccer’s all-time legends, used his hands to score a vital goal in the World Cup and was later found guilty of using illegal drugs, does not deter me from watching the most beautiful game on the planet. Like I said, a true fan will always love sports. So, sports will never lose too much of its following seeing as how so many American are in love with sports.

On the other hand, scandals have a way of bringing the parties involved into the limelight. Even though scandals do bring with them negative press, it is still press. And as the old saying goes, any press is good press. My point is this. Contrary to popular belief, scandals attract viewers. Why do you think that there are so many worthless magazines in circulation in today’s society? Because the press knows that the general public absolutely loves knowing the dirty little secrets of the rich and famous. Just ask Paris Hilton. She recently ”endured” a short stint in jail and is now even more popular than ever. The same is true for sports. When learning of Kobe Bryant’s alleged rape case, my mother, who is not that big of a sports fan, began tuning in to watch. Does that mean she approved of what Kobe allegely did? Absolutely not! But she still watched. Much like a car accident, you don’t like what you see, but you are going to watch anyways.

Ever since I was a little boy, I have been taught to be honest in dealing with my fellowman. I still believe that today and in no way am I advocating the things that athletes are prone to do these days. But still, evidence exists that makes one believe that these scandals can actually help sports become even more popular. While proving not to be a real deterrent to true fans, they provide intrigue and excitement to those otherwise bored by sports.

Nishan Wilde is VP of Sales for Robbins Sports and Athletics, a national provider of athletic apparel and equipment, featuring top of the line Gym Bags, Portable Scoreboards, Basketball Uniforms and Track Uniforms.