I lied, she said. Marion Jones broke the hearts of millions of sports fans yesterday, after years of denial, when she admitted her use of steroids at the time of her triumphant Olympics.
After Barry Bonds, after all those other baseball players, after Floyd Landis and half the contestants in the Tour de France, it has come to this. Is it about the money? Is it about the desperate need to win? It seems that cheating is endemic in our sports today. Who knows what victory can be trusted any more?
Actually, when you think about it, sports are no different from the society they reflect. The same values pervade our society: win at all costs, take the money and run, defeat is not an option... I think back, for example, to the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004. I think back to the record of the Bush administration. Our president makes it look as easy to lie as did our Marion Jones.
Is this just America, friends? Are we any worse than the rest of the world? I hope so. I hope not... If you'll forgive the paradox.
I do have something to say for this young woman, though. I was impressed by what seemed to me her genuine tears, the depth of her contrition, her acceptance of responsibility for her actions, the absence--too late, perhaps--of evasion. I was impressed that she seemed fully aware that "sorry" doesn't hack it, after so much damage done. I hope she realizes that there is big make-up work to be done, to reconstruct herself from the core out, in order to rediscover that self-respect that we all need to see us through. To rebuild trust...
It would be something, wouldn't it, if we were to see the same readiness to accept responsbility, the same accountability from those who purport to lead us? More denial, yesterday, from Bush, in the matter of torture, on the same day that Jones was able to find some honesty in her heart. More lies, too, about that incomprehensible veto of funds for medical insurance to cover the vulnerable children of our near-poor. More twisting of the truth to justify an unjustifable ideological agenda. If the man truly wanted to shrink goverment and accept fiscal responsibility, he should have started long ago. Conclusion: he didn't. All he wanted was to serve the interests of the corporations and the super-rich. In which, if in no other area of human concern, he has proved eminently successful.