2010-04-15 / Sam Bari

Does anyone have a spare scandal?

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand
By Sam Bari

Hallelujah! The Masters Golf Tournament is over for yet another year. Everybody got their last licks in at Tiger, and bashed him for not behaving according to their moral standards. Those who were appalled because they are so perfect must find a new athlete to adore.

Does anybody out there see what we are doing? Outside of our borders, the world laughs at us for some of the dumb things that we as a society collectively do. We look to actors for brilliant political positioning, and to athletes to set our standard for moral behavior.

How did this happen? Did somebody put something in the water to make us brain dead? Does this happen across America?

“Honey, we need a baby sitter for Saturday night. Got anyone in mind?”

“Call the local major league baseball team. They’re playing in the afternoon. Perhaps they can send someone over in the evening.”

“If that doesn’t work, I’ll see what the golf pro is doing.”

“Ya know, we’ve never had a hockey player; maybe we should call one of those guys. The kids would like that.”

“Football season is over, there should be plenty of players available.”

Babe Ruth never went through any scrutiny from the public, and he missed games because of alleged alcohol poisoning and venereal disease. His first wife divorced him for his infidelities, but it never affected his reputation as a great baseball player.

During his career, he was suspended for a few games because he punched one umpire in the face and threw dirt at another. I shudder to think about the consequences if a player did that today.

And why we have such a fascination with actors and their political convictions is baffling. Most actors have not even attended college. Their political acumen, I would guess, is no better than that of the average person who does not make a living in the political arena.

For instance, Jane Fonda – in the days of Vietnam – was nearly arrested for treason because of her political stunts.

In 1972, she took a trip to North Vietnam and propagandized on behalf of the Vietnamese government, declaring that American POWs were being treated humanely. Then, she condemned U.S. soldiers as “war criminals” and later denounced them as liars for claiming they had been tortured.

She ended up apologizing for her statements, but defended her trip as being in the best interests of ending the war.

What gave her the right to claim that she was representing the American people in an effort to attain peace? She certainly wasn’t qualified.

But many praised her for her efforts.

What is it about actors and politics anyway? What is it that makes them think they have even the remotest skill, upbringing or talent to enter that world?

There is something seriously wrong with the country when we choose our political leaders based on their box office success. Acting gives actors a recognizable voice, but is it a voice that is qualified to lead a country? Just ask Jessie Ventura. How would you like to have him as president?

I can’t with any good conscience include our late President Ronald Reagan as unqualified. He studied economics and sociology in college and was politically involved most of his life. However, he is very much the exception in a domain where actors misuse their access to the public to influence political perception.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I do not support Tiger Woods and his marital indiscretions. It must be a huge cross to bear. However, it is his cross, not mine. What he does when he is off the golf course is his business. Who am I to judge him? I have my own transgressions that need attention.

I often wonder what skeletons are hiding in the closets of those who are so quick to condemn others.

People who think it is the responsibility of professional athletes to be role models should listen to Charles Barkley, who said: “I am not a role model. I am paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court. Parents should be role models. Just because I dunk a basketball, doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”

I don’t think the question is really about athletes as role models or actors and politics. It’s about scandal. Why is there never enough scandal to go around? America always seems to need more. Scandal apparently plays an important role in this system that we can’t understand.

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