Friday, October 5, 2007

Talking 'Bout an Evolution

From the Romans and the Greeks to the British and American Empires, one thing has always been true: the mob is stupid. As individuals, we are pretty intelligent. But when a large group of people get together, it seems that everything is boiled down to the least common denominator; there isn't much thinking going on. Point in case: the two front runners for the President of the United States are a Clinton and an actor. The last seven presidential terms, starting from the most recent, have been Bush, Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Actor, Actor. We will be repeating ourselves, again. But while we are still in our primitive state of unoriginal ideas, we have evolved to gain one important trait: skepticism.

I've never met one person who thought that Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire weren't on steroids. I've never met anybody who still gives O.J. the benefit of the doubt. These are spectacular revelations. The general populace is obtaining the one thing that, without, use to make them the general populace; not believing anyone for any reason. As we saw from O.J. and Phil Spector, you're still innocent until proven guilty - in a court of law. In the court of public opinion, however, the accused must prove their innocence or be shunned forever. People expect the worst. Which is a good thing, because more often than not, a public personality is doing the worst. And it's this type of skepticism and unbelieving that could possibly force professional athletes to finally do the right thing.

When Marion Jones, the three-time Olympic gold medalist, was accused of steroids, everybody was convinced she was guilty. As it turns out, she was. Jones screamed to the world that she was clean, but nobody was buying it. There was really no reason to believe that she was juiced other than the fact that nobody believes anybody anymore. Unlike Bonds, she wasn't a villain. Jones was celebrated for her feats and nobody actually wanted her to be guilty, but at the same time, the common consensus was that she did in fact cheat. Jones had lost all of her endorsements long before she tested positive, which is a testament to the power the public holds. The way it works is, if you are accused of something, you did it, and you will pay.

It would seem this kind of thinking in the common person would be a bad thing. After all, what would happen if a professional athlete was actually innocent, and his/her reputation was shattered anyways? Well, it hasn't happened yet. The public opinion has been right 100% of the time. The fear for most people who were in Michael Vick's corner was that his image would be tarnished whether he was guilty or not. I don't buy it. If Vick was found innocent, everything would have been alright. One thing about the public: while they'll never admit that they were wrong, they'll never keep on shouting the wrong opinions. The country as a whole would shut up about it. On the other side of it, the populace will never shut up if they were right. This is also a good thing. Today's athletes know that any slip up will be taken by the people and beat into the ground.

I know people who smoke marijuana and think that Ricky Williams shouldn't be allowed in the NFL. This is progress. We are holding these public personalities to a higher standard than ourselves, and at the same time not believing that they are true to their word. It's getting to the point where you have to be a perfect human being to be in the limelight. If only we could hold ourselves to the same standards, or at least our elected officials.


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