Peace through victory - the American way.

Friday, March 11, 2005

What Martha Stewart could teach Major League Baseball.

The 20th century saw the rise of the anti-hero in American culture: in film, in literature, and in art. Lately, the anti-hero has made its mark in the biggest field of American culture: sports.

American culture is not limited to the arts. It finds its best expression in sports, professional sports specifically. This is why so many critics who complain that the arts don't get funding but sports do are wrong. In the United States, sports is culture too.

The anti-hero is dominant in basketball and less so in football. Where it has not been dominant is in baseball, Barry Bonds notwithstanding. The steroids controversy promises to change all that as the successes of many of baseball's best players will be questioned because of the steroids allegations.

America has a troubled relationship with its heroes. Perhaps it's our ingrained democratic nature that creates the ambivalence. In our democratic view we are all equal so why should even heroes be better than anybody else? We love to have heroes and to look up to them, but at the same time we constantly probe them for weaknesses and revel when we find their feet of clay. Bringing down heroes is one of America's national past-times.

The smart hero in the situation baseball players now find themselves does what Martha Stewart just did. She took her punishment, became a little bit humble, and threw herself on the mercy of the forgiving nature of the American people to take her back. And what has it gotten her? Renewed respect and even more money than she had before she went to prison.

Baseball could do worse than following her example.




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