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Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
cbertsch
cbertsch
Say It Is So
I don't think it's any accident that the latest and worst round of news in baseball's steroid scandal is coming in the midst of a financial crisis that might seem to make such revelations irrelevant. I know football is more popular. I know basketball fans think they are more passionate about their sport these days. But baseball's designation as the "national pastime" still lingers in collective memory. Just as the "Black Sox" scandal of 1919 was inextricably bound up with the loss of innocence that many Americans perceived in the wake of World War I, the current scandal is knotted up with the realization that we have become a people who demand the spectacular, whether in sports or the stock market, even if it cannot be achieved by traditional means.

Mind you, the real scandal, from which spectacles have distracted us, just as they did in the heyday of the IWW, is that the pressure to exceed our natures is felt even more keenly in those parts of society the media ignores. The proliferation of dependence on stimulants, whether legal -- coffee, energy drinks -- or illegal -- methamphetamine -- together with the rapid increase in the number of people taking prescription anti-depressants, testifies to a social order that puts most Americans in the thrall of a numbers game that gives them only two choices: lose or keep playing. I know it's hard to imagine much good coming out of the present situation, but if we can at least use it to recognize what some of our unfortunate ancestors did in 1919, there may yet be hope: in this system, the fix is always already in. I don't think it's any accident that we're witnessing a crisis in which that simple truth is becoming painfully apparent, despite the best efforts of the profiteers to cover it up. The danger is that we will see those scandals as exceptions to the rule instead of rule by exception.

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