What happened to the love of the game?
February 27, 1998
When professional hockey players took the ice at the 1998 Winter Olympic
Games in Nagano, Japan, an era, what was left of it, came to an abrupt end.
Not too long ago in a place similar to today's sports world, amateur
athletes took part in every aspect of sports competition. However, that
world was spun by its gravitation pull, this one has been flipped on its
axis by society's constant drive for the ultimate goal-money.
Yes, Corporate America has spoiled nearly everything that is sacred
in our world today, including athletic competition. For the thirst of the
viewer, companies and businesses spare no expense to draw the audience.
Maybe that is one reason the big names of the National Hockey League (NHL)
were ordered -- yes, ordered -- to compete in the Olympics and not up-and-coming
Watching the professionals skate around the rink, I noticed the players
were not going full speed and were not checking as hard as, well, a player
who is not yet a proven star.
The Olympic Games are not the only sporting event effected by the drive
for cash. The sports scene in America also has its share of problems.
For the sake of the audience, team owners and players' agents drive
the prices of players' salaries sky-high to draw more fans. This causes
a series of reactions both internally and externally. If you are weak of
heart or get motion sickness, you may need to get your doctor's permission
The first reaction to a high-price contract comes from teammates. Instead
of congratulations, an immediate comparison among individuals begins, forcing
management to continue to raise the salary bar.
But what is their dollar anyway? It is obtained by the owners from the
fans supporting their teams at various arenas and watching the events on
And after all the contract talks and back-stabbing is complete and a
contract agreement is reached, the media and the general public force the
newly crowned multi-millionaire to live up to their expectations. This would
not happen if contracts were not the issue, but if performance or passion
for the game was.
Imagine a world where an athlete was judged on how he acts on the playing
field and not how fat his wallet is. That is what sports are supposed to
be about: the competition, the struggle, the success.
Take, for example, the Czech Republic's gold-medal men's hockey team.
It eliminated the United States and overcame all expectations with the lowest
number of professional hockey players on its squad.
The 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers were a team that did not have marquee names
but had heart, which proved to be its most valuable possession.
Probably a great example of playing for the game and not for the contract
is the ULV men's basketball team. They are not playing for bonuses or television
ratings. They are not even playing for athletic scholarships. Instead, they
are playing to earn a spot in the Division III playoffs.
The world is a strange place filled with greedy people who exploit every
person, place or thing under the sun to make a buck. But in our capitalistic
society, It is their right to do so. Although it may not be ethical to buy
souls, which Corporate America has done, it seems to have become the American
What is there to do? We can either accept it the way it is or we can
try to remember why it is we compete, not for the bills but for the love
of the game.
Greg MacDonald, a sophomore journalism major, is sports editor of
the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.