Norman RockwellAre we surprised Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and Dr. Ben Carson are leading in the U.S. presidential polls? Are we shocked Pope Francis seems bent on radically reforming every Catholic prohibition heretofore considered canonical?  Are we indignant that women’s marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe has been linked (though unnamed) to assertions of PED use by a British parliamentary committee during a hearing into doping allegations in athletics?

I wish I were, but I am sorry, I am not. I guess I have been around too long.

From Paula Radcliffe to Tom Brady, Hillary Clinton to the Catholic Church, what we are witnessing is the new assumption of guilt by a public grown too cynical for Norman Rockwell’s vanilla version of life. Nothing is above reproach. Facts may not lie, but like quarks are never directly observed or found in isolation, either. Instead they exist within the larger narrative that forms a constantly moving target that applies only to the moment, never universally over time.

“It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is,” don’t you know. Continue reading


DeflateGateThough the Symmonds Matter has managed to leak into the public sphere, let there be no doubt as to which sport’s legal case the population is riveted.  Deflate-Gate hit federal court today in Manhattan where the long unraveling of each side’s case began before Judge Richard M. Berman.

The judge had requested that the NFL and NFL Player’s Association meet prior to today’s hearing to discuss or even come to a settlement.  That didn’t happen. So Judge Berman conducted an open court hearing followed by a closed-door session in an attempt to get the two sides closer to doing for themselves what he will eventually do for them if they can’t work it out for themselves. Continue reading


The Man


The whole Donald Trump political phenomenon, culminating (so far) in last Thursday night’s Fox News GOP presidential debate, has the American political class in a tizzy and his opponents in a quandary. For that alone we ought to thank him. No matter the hair, the harangues, or the heresy, none of it seems to matter as Trump’s standing in the polls continues to defy accepted political gravity.

While the media keeps insisting that this is only the “Silly Season”, and The Coiffed One will tumble eventually, even his debate take down of Fox News darling Megyn Kelley last Thursday hasn’t taken the pink from his political cheeks. And previous barrages against Mexicans and John McCain he now wears like political battle ribbons. Everyone keeps wondering how the Big Bluster can remain atop the heap of what is considered the best class of GOP candidates in recent memory.

On Monday, Bloomberg Politics’ Mark Halperin asked, ‘if it’s such a strong field, and he’s so weak, why isn’t it any Republican overtaking him?”

Might it be suggested that the issue/problem isn’t the Trumpster, as such, isn’t the great field of candidates, isn’t the political mainstream’s dislike. The Trump ascendancy — like that of his Democratic counterpart Bernie Sanders — has risen out of the disaffections in America circa 2015.  That alone should give us pause. For when the usual complement of political assets: experience, likability, collegiality, well-modulated argument, get Trumped by bluster and bullying, what we have is a political reflection of a nation on the defensive, one putting on its bark as it senses the loss of its bite.

People have become more sensitive, rubbed raw, feeling pressed. They are keeping a closer inspection of perceived slights.  Comics don’t do colleges anymore, too PC.  But how much longer do we keeping spouting ‘everyone is a winner’, where grade inflation and social advancement are seen as educationally worthy, and celebrity lacquers the culture in a shiny, vacuous veneer? Who was it that said, “people get the government they deserve?” Continue reading


The Boys of Summer

The Boys of Summer

A race is a race is a race.  So while we await the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Beijing later this month, we were left with last night’s opening round of the Republican party presidential debates in Cleveland as a teaser.  Turned out to be the best reality TV show Donald Trump has ever starred in.  Call it Presidential Apprentice, high dungeon life imitating art. But other than ejaculate ratings for FOX, what was really gained beyond the entertainment value? Then again, let’s take what we can get.

As the Federal Reserve continues to offset the true recalibration of the American economy in the wake of the Great Recession —  it ended its triple-down quantitative easing late last year, but still maintains an easy-money stance by keeping short-term interest rates at zero —  what is needed in this election year is an impartial arbiter in the tension between capital and labor, one that understands the need for a moderating equipoise in that tension.

Perception is all, and the perception is the rich get, the rest don’t; bit of Bruce Hornsby’s ‘That’s Just the Way It Is’ at work.  Until that organizing principle has been processed it will continue to run its course. But how long can the nation afford to see the health of one side come at the expense of the other? It simply isn’t in anyone’s long term best interest to disenfranchise millions so that millionaires can see their own stakes grow. Yet the immediacy of today means that there is no time for tomorrow.

Continue reading


New York City 1981

New York City 1981

At long last Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar has come out with his response to the allegations made by a joint BBC/Pro Publica investigation regarding performance enhancing drugs and the misuse of Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) at the Nike Oregon Project. I urge you to read both David Epstein’s original investigative piece (linked above) and Alberto’s two-part rebuttal here and here.


But what has always been a head-scratcher to me as I followed the story over the last three weeks (and after knowing Alberto for most of our adult lives) was how so many people knew about the Androgel, the testosterone cream that was one of the main contentions of the investigation and follow up stories.

According to a headline linking to a Daily Mail story out of England: “The AndroGel was so prevalent”

But that’s my point. Seems Alberto was telling anyone and everyone about it, not hiding it or making it all secret.  He told massage therapist John Stiner to clean out the Park City, Utah apartment that the NOP team used as a high-altitude training camp, all the while knowing there were needles and vials and a tube of Androgel there? That is who you tell to clean up your drug pit, an independent contractor who is not in on the cabal? Continue reading


six_million_dollar_manWhen is a man not a man?  Whoever thought that such a question might one day have currency?  We might have chuckled at the campy 1970s TV series The Six Million Dollar Man, starring Lee Majors, or chomped through several over-priced buttered popcorn boxes watching Arnold as the Terminator, but with technology rapidly replacing worn parts —  or, in the case of Caitlyn Jenner (nee Bruce), unwanted parts — we are fast reaching the point where man and machine may soon be indistinguishable, and ethics will once again be sorely tested.

Rules and regulations are instituted with the goal of establishing an even playing field whereupon fair competition can be conducted. How else to determine a true champion? But it is only when we all agree upon and adhere to those rules and regulations that such a goal can be achieved.  The minute there are competing interpretations is when we come into existential conflict.

Periodically, as today, there is a school of thought which throws up its hands, and in frustration declares, “just give in and let performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) be allowed in sport.” After all, goes the argument, although there are health risks involved with PED use, by their nature sports are inherently risky, and PEDs would simply be another risk associated with participation. Plus, with medical supervision those risks would be largely eliminated.

And there is some logic behind that frustration and its corollary suggestion, as the best efforts of the testers have consistently lagged behind the users since PEDs came into wide spread use in the 1960s. But since there is not a clear boundary between “safe” and “unsafe” PED use, the line would only be shifted, not erased. So is it ever as simple as just turning the page? Continue reading


Alberto Salazar

Alberto Salazar

Good news — Bad news on this National Running Day 2015.  The bad news comes from the BBC investigative show Panorama, which, in conjunction with Pro Publica raised disquieting questions about alleged drug use and unethical practices by Coach Alberto Salazar at the Nike Oregon Project.  I won’t retrace the allegations. You can read the complete story at the Pro Publica link above. *

Suffice it to say that performance-enhancing drugs have been the bane of sports for over sixty years. How many of the current track records do people really believe were achieved on the up-and-up? Today, it is damned if you do run fast, jump high, or throw far (see Justin Gatlin), and damned if you don’t (everybody else).

I’m no apologist for drug use, but with the political conflagration at FIFA, soccer’s governing body, and the corruption  everyone knows to be endemic in athletics, where does the concept of fair play even begin to come into consideration for the lowly athletes of this world? Kris Kristofferson wrote about such displacement with “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”. Continue reading