The Tim Donaghy Confessions—an Era of Error

Matt TokajerCorrespondent IJune 11, 2008

Looking back in 30 years, watching sports with our children and grandchildren how do we want to remember? What phrase will we want to define it? The Big Money Era? The Steroids Era? or something greater?

In ancient Rome, the sands of the coliseum were the focal point for competitive sport in the Empire. Though brutal and barbaric, the gladiatorial fights were a test of man's skill, competitive nature and physical prowess. These matches were an almost sacred act not to be tarnished in any way and the honor that came with victory was of the utmost importance. This was an era of integrity.

In recent years every sport has been rocked by horrible allegations of cheating. From Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens steroid suspicions and perjury convictions and similar steroid usage coming close to destroying Track and Field as well as Cycling, spygate in the NFL tarnishing yet another sport, and now, seemingly the last pillar supporting our great coliseum has crumbled. 

Tim Donaghy's allegations are monumental in their affects on not only the NBA but on sports as a whole. In today's world with the current political strife and economic hardships, sports are many peoples escape from reality.

It's a release from the worries and grind of daily life into a place where there is simply a competition without any scandal, where there is no need to fret over what's true because at the end of the game the truth is found on the scoreboard.

These accusations, whether true or not, put a lot of doubts into the world of sports. If true then the NBA has become nothing more than a glorified WWE, with money becoming a more important factor than integrity.

Let's say for a moment that it turns out there is no proof to back this scandal, the fact remains that there are serious officiating problems that exist and have allowed this scandal to even take root.

Without an already dubious record of NBA officiating, Donaghy's allegations would be laughed at and pushed aside without a moment of consideration.

Commissioner David Stern is doing nothing to help his case. Assigning Joey Crawford to officiate the LA Lakers—San Antonio Spurs series after his recent suspension for a feud with Tim Duncan and the rest of the Spurs in 2007 was a careless decision.

Referees need to be individuals with sparkling clean reputations, yet Joey Crawford, often deemed one of NBA's top refs, plead guilty for filing false income tax returns in 1998 and was reinstated the following year by none other than commissioner David Stern himself. With this conviction, Joey Crawford comes off a little sketchy for a man who is supposed to have the moral wherewithal to become a unbiased mediator as a living.

Donaghy's recent allegations seem to have caught David Stern not just with his pants down but his shoes off as well. Stern has done nothing to squelch these rumors beyond flat out denial of the comments and once again stating that Donaghy is the only person in the wrong.

In truth it is too late for Stern to have much of an affect on these rumors. His chances passed him by in the last few years when he never made any attempt to fix the glaring deficiencies in the way the NBA officials operate.

The sad fact is it doesn't even matter if he's right. People don't really care if athletes or leagues are cheating.

Over the last few years Baseball has had a barrage of cheating in the headlines, which seemingly has done nothing to slow the continually rising popularity of Baseball.

From a total attendance of 67,944,389 in 2002, it has risen consistently to 79,447,312 in 2007 despite Baseball biggest stars being accused of cheating.

There used to be a time when sports were a test of one teams ability versus another's. A time when athletes took pride in overcoming their opponents through hard work, and when sport was a true test of the ability of one man against his fellow man.

Where has this gone? The mystique that used to surround our athletes has disappeared, Barry Bond's doesn't hold the same super human legacy of Hank Aaron, and watching Kobe play in his prime, no matter his enormous skill, doesn't give me the goosebumps that even watching reruns of Michael Jordan gives me.

It seems that no one cares whether or not it is a true competition anymore. We are selling competition cheaply for the sake of entertainment and money.

We are in an era when the child in all of us, who watches sports purely for the love of the game has been ignored. Where everyone, the commissioners, umps, players and fans have forgotten how much pride there is in the sports they treasure. We are in an era where we are left in front of our biggest stars begging "saying it ain't so, Joe" and we are simply left without an answer.