Sports often serves as a metaphor for life, or so goes the adage. While watching Ken Burns’ latest offering Baseball – The Tenth Inning, it struck me that at times sports is much more than just a metaphor; it is quite literally a direct reflection of life. 1995 to 2005 was a time of excess, of inflated statistics, of false heroes, false securities, and a willingness to not heed the facts. And I am not talking just about baseball, steroids, and home runs.
It was the video clip of Barry Bonds 70th home run of the 2001 season. The shot that tied the record set by Mark McGuire during the magical 1998 season. As the narrator spoke, and the ball flew out of the park I could barely believe what I saw in massive, glowing, neon letters above the scoreboard in right center field: “Enron Field”. Classic – I literally laughed at the irony of the moment. There captured in a 10 second video was the stark reality of that 10 year period. Sports was not a metaphor – it was a mirror directly reflecting us, our society, and our values.
1995 to 2005 was a time of excess, of inflated statistics, of false heroes, false securities, and a willingness to not heed facts. The run up in the stock market and in real estate was absolutely unprecedented, producing excesses in greed and money, lifestyles and consumption. Enron, WorldCom, Arthur Anderson – names forever tied to inflated statistics. Sports and politics, religion and business – all littered with false heroes. 9/11 – the end of innocence and false security.
Facts are facts, and at times sports can help us see things in life much more clearly. Sometimes they are the things we do not want to see; that we do not want to acknowledge. Seriously, Barry Bonds hitting a record tying home run at Enron Field – it was too funny. I could not have created such wonderful irony. How I love irony…and baseball.