I have always had a soft spot for A-Rod. He is so exposed relative to other professional athletes. I suspect other high-profile players have gone to therapy, for example, but how many are willing to talk about it publicly? How many walk around without the public armor and discipline to prevent those disclosures? (It’s hard to imagine Derek Jeter going off message, for example, regardless of what’s going on at home.) It’s the combination of A-Rod’s fragility and pursuit of excellence that gets me. Occasionally, I simply can’t avert my eyes, in that accident-on-the-side-of-the-road kind of way, like when Madonna gets involved, but I’m riveted nonetheless.
A-Rod is human – replete with flaws and insecurities – and we’re not used to seeing that much humanity on the world stage. I guess it’s the lack of polish that I find so appealing, particularly as other players of his caliber lather it on. As for the steroid use, I’m also having a hard time blaming individuals. The system was designed to reliably produce abuse of its policies, which practically had a wink and nod attached to them. That we then blame the individuals and not the system’s architects seems absurd. Maybe if we perp-walked those who benefited the most first – the commissioner, the head of the players union, the owners and network executives seems like a good place to start – then it wouldn’t feel so ridiculous to be focusing on the players.
This is a classic case of addressing the symptom with righteous indignation while willfully ignoring the cause. History suggests that our response will not only perpetuate the problem, but it’s also likely to make it worse.