Pro baseball player Barry Bonds broke the All-Time Home Run record last night, surpassing Henry "Hank" Aaron's long-standing record of 755. The moment was historic, newsworthy, controversial and fake.
What sacrifice, what hard work, what obstacle did Bonds endure and overcome to achieve this record? I believe the answer is: his integrity. How much sweat, pleasure and payoff did he miss because of his use of performance-enhancing drugs? I believe the answer is: all of it.
When I think about the method Bonds used to topple this sports milestone, I get that feeling inside when Biff Tannen, the flat-topped bully in Back to the Future, crawls into the car with Lorraine and attempts to cheat his way into her arms. I get angry because Biff didn't earn her love nor her consent. He was trying to take "it" the wrong way, and at that moment in the film, it seems "the good guy" is losing.
You can bet that I will be watching when a real athlete steps to the plate and swings away Bonds' tainted record. When that ball clears the fence, I will let loose a triumphal shout (like when George McFly knocks out Biff; when right overcomes wrong).
The baseball record fell, but so did the man. The decline of real men overcoming real obstacles is fast decreasing. With no more savages to tame, no more lands unclaimed, real men need real heroes. Ironically, as I was watching the morning news and sports shows, I caught an ESPN interview with my childhood sports hero, Herschel Walker. This athlete won national football championships, the Heisman Trophy and set or broke other records. The main difference is that Walker performed with integrity.
In his time, Walker was a huge man, but he used to work out by merely doing push-ups everyday -- 1,500 of them to be exact. When he got too strong for those, he went to one-handed push-ups. When he got too strong for those, he had his son sit on his back, then his wife, then his wife and son. Walker didn't "juice up," cheat or cut corners, he worked for it. He earned the accolades and my respect. Bonds did not.