The Downfall of Sports
A meritocracy is an environment in which individuals are rewarded for their ability to produce. An example of a meritocracy is the sports world at large. In the sports world, athletes are chosen based on their raw talent and ability to score points and win games. Nothing else is taken into account before each player signs a multi million dollar contract. Things like, being a college drop out, having a criminal record and being a poor role model is overlooked if the athletes can score points for the team. This one sided selection process, is the epitome of a meritocractic society. The owners of the teams are merely looking for someone who can get the job done, no questions asked.
Initially, sports was not a meritocracy. The public demanded professional sports teams to have a certain image. The image of the average ball player , was a clean cut all American and a great guy. Even if the player didn’t possess the best character traits, he was perceived as a great guy. For example, Babe Ruth was the all American orphan who lived the American Dream, going from rags to riches. In reality, Babe Ruth was a womanizer and a drunk. The professional sportsman was put up on a pedestal and was honored by all. Even if he didn’t fit that image, the public at least wanted to believe that he did. This concern for a certain image showed that sports was not a meritocractic society since the public wanted something else, other than performance.
Later, sports became a meritocracy. Vince Lombardi’s famous quote, winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing embodied the complete transition of sports, from our national pastime to the ugly meritocractic society that it is today. The public was no longer interested in the image, all they wanted was to win and have players who could accomplish their tasks. Selection, from then on, was solely based on who could get the job done. The image was no longer the highlight, and it wasn’t important to society.
Now, we are paying the price for the meritocractic society of sports. Athletes like Latrell Sprewell, who was almost sent to prison for assaulting his coach in practice, is now a hero on the New York Knicks. Children are flocking to see him play and are trying to emulate is every action. Pete Rose is another example of a player who was held high for his great ability but was also a compulsive gambler. He was punished for his misbehavior at the time, but now the fans want to reinstate him in baseball. Society’s lack of concern for misconduct is evidence to the fact that the meritocractic society of sports has severely impacted our morals and value system. There is more emphasis on which sneakers a sports figure wears rather than what kind of person he is. It has now reached the breaking point. The meritocracy of sports is causing the downfall of values in our society and the degeneration of our youth. Our society no longer cares about ethics and morals, society only wants to win, whatever the costs may be.