Summer of Sports Scandals

With predecessors like the "Summer of the Shark" and the "Summer of Chandra" guiding my judgement, a few weeks ago I attempted in this space to predict a "Summer of..." story that we'd be force fed from here to Labor Day.

My prognostication – that of a "Summer of Steroids" — was based on potential steroid involvement in the double murder/suicide of professional wrestler Chris Benoit and Barry Bond's chase of Major League Baseball's home run record.

Turns out I was only half right. The Chris Benoit story has faded from public view, as the Georgia medical examiner determined that steroids did not play a role in the tragedy. But the Barry Bonds story continues to resonate in the news media, so … Okay, so maybe half right is a stretch. It looks like I was one-sixth right, as the Bonds story is one of three that have taken over American newscasts in the past week.

Yes, the summer story has finally made itself known, at least as far as The Microsoft Network is concerned: the Summer of 2007 is now the "Summer of Scandal," with three stories from the sports world stirring up a tide of outrage in America. They are, in no particular order:

  • Barry Bond's chase of Hank Aaron's home run record, with suspicions of steroid use rampant.
  • Atlanta Falcon quarterback Michael Vick's indictment on federal charges involving dog-fighting and cruelty to animals.
  • NBA referee Tim Donaghy being investigated by the FBI for allegedly betting on games betting on games he was officiating.

    That's a solid lineup of scandals in the Holy Trinity of American Sports right there. But the three will likely become two within a week or so, since the Barry Bonds story could be short-lived. He's three homers away from baseball history as of this writing, and once he gets there … will the story persist? Doubtful. And contrary to the glacial pace of most high-profile legal cases, the fact that Michael Vick's case is in the so-called "rocket docket" suggests his will be a swift-moving case. The NBA story, though, is the wild card. Will it turn out that this was, as NBA Commissioner David Stern assured us today, an "isolated case?" Or will the faucet of 'additional allegations' and 'prior knowledge' and 'others potentially involved' drip-drip-drip this story into August?

    Stay tuned, sports fans.