Tag Archives: performance enhancing drugs

Super Bowl, Super Irony and Super Clarity

Super Bowl week, a week of unrelenting media bombardment and hype. Stories of what might happen, what should happen, and commercials.  Blows my mind that as a society we get wound-up over the idea of how well something is going to be pitched to us for our consumption.  Then again, the commercials are sometimes more entertaining than the game.   Super Bowl Sunday has become a part of our national fabric.  And this year is no different, except for a story that broke on Tuesday regarding Performance Enhancing Drugs. Sort of makes me feel like it is cycling season. However, this time names like Alex Rodriguez and Ray Lewis, and a bunch of other “mainstream” athletes are tied to the story.

Here we sit on Friday, and not a word of the story.  It was a story for 24 hours, then it was simply swept away or ignored…48 hours later hardly a peep.  And the response from Ray Lewis to the media in New Orleans, well it sounded a lot like other comments we have heard from other high-profile athletes over the years.  It was all a bit ironic, the face of the sport, on the sports biggest stage, with a world-wide audience, denying, minimizing the story and ultimately turning the spot-light onto the accusers, their motivations and their credibility.  Love irony, just love it.

As we reach the end of the week, irony has brought clarity – the NFL is too big to fail.  Same goes for MLB.  A-Rod and Ray Lewis are marquee players, faces of their sport, and no one cares about what they did or did not do when it comes to PEDs.  It is so clear what is valued and what is not.  Marion Jones cheated and lied; she went to prison.  Lance cheated and is literally and figuratively only beginning to paying the price.  Ray Lewis, A-Rod, Bonds, Clemens, or any of the others in the NFL or MLB…not a dime.  Nothing.  It is another moment of clarity.

Now the real irony is the fact that one of the government’s reasons for going after Lance is because of the US Postal Service sponsorship of the cycling team.  The positive press the US Postal Service received for those years was absolutely massive.  It was a marketing coup and might represent one of the best advertising investments in the history of marketing, yet the government feels they were a victim of fraud.  The US Postal Service has had two other positive moments in its entire history before the cycling team, the Pony Express and “neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow”.  Gotta love irony.

Clearly, like everyone else in the country, I will be watching the Super Bowl Sunday.  Well, after I get back from my bike ride that is…

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The Behavior and Feedback Loop

The first week of October is quickly becoming “the week of dope” – and not in a Randy Jackson American Idol sort of way.  First we hear that Alberto Contador, the recent Tour de France winner has tested positive not just for trace amounts of a PED, but also for a plastic residue found in blood bags.  Then, we hear ever so quietly that Steve Gregory of the San Diego Chargers popped positive.  To hear a cyclist popping, even the face of the sport, is not too terribly unexpected – they are tested constantly.  To hear of an NFL player – that was surprising.   Not surprising in that I am naive enough to think there are no PEDs in football.  Rather surprising in that for someone to pop in such a lightly tested sport is almost a miracle.

Again, a huge thank you to the world of sport for providing a reflection of life. This time they help us see ever so clearly how behaviors are reinforced and perpetuated based upon feedback. Call it risk versus reward; positive or negative reinforcement.  There is no question behaviors are encouraged or discouraged based upon the feedback the behavior elicits. And we all know, we cannot mention the world of sport without mentioning Performance Enhancing Drugs.

So what does any of this have to do with behavior?  Consider this – Contador is looking at a 2 year suspension.  Gregory – 4 games.  Seriously, 2 years versus 4 weeks.  Bash the Olympic sports all you wish, but there is no question they are serious about trying to eliminate doping in their sports.  Clearly the NFL does not really care.  The players know it and will act accordingly.  The rewards far outweighs the risk in professional sports – at least in the United States and certainly in the NFL.

It is the ultimate question for leaders, coaches, educators and even parents – how does one influence behavior?  How can you get someone to do, or not do, something?  There are countless answers to that question, but one of them is clearly based on feedback.  What feedback are you providing for certain behaviors?  Are your actions, or inaction, encouraging or discouraging certain behaviors.  Think about sports and the culture of doping – what message do the individual sports send to their players and their fans?  Telling on a host of levels.

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Filed under Coaching, Current affairs, leadership, Sports

Yes, It Can Hurt Worse

Just ask Roger Clemens – indicted for lying to Congress.  Ouch, now that is some pain.  A few months back we pointed to the world of sports and performance enhancing drugs as an example of why admitting mistakes is a far better course of action than unfounded denial.  Thank you again Floyd Landis for the lesson.  And in the event anyone needed additional reinforcement, Mr. Clemens bubbles up in the news today.

Own It…Even When It Hurts seems to be almost naive at this point; folksy in a way.  It is bad enough when your reputation is in tatters and your legacy is tainted.  However couple that with a federal indictment and you have real pain.  As if anyone needed to have the lesson driven home; there is no way around the truth – admit, apologize and move on.  Alex Rodriquez came clean (relatively) once he was caught.  He is fine and his career continues – all is forgiven.  Roger Clemens painted himself into a corner and kept up the charade – he is in a real mess.  Liars pay in the end.  The form of payment might change, but the pain is always real.

Truth be told I fear for what might be coming in the world of sports and high-profile athletes.  There are some very damming accusations and innuendo being bantered about.  I just hope that if there is a truth to be told, the lesson of Roger Clemens is heeded.  It is obvious the Federal Government has taken an interest.  Unfortunately, it should not take the threat of jail to get to the truth, but that is the world in which we live.  Maybe these high-profile “falls from grace” will help bring back that folksy idea of owning it even when it hurts…maybe.

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