Submission Sunday – The Culture Of More

29 07 2007

Submission Sunday is back! Yes, someone actually wanted to submit something. Strange, I know. Anyway, this week’s submission comes from the artist (not) formerly known as Pribek, singer, songwriter, guitarist, blogger extraordinaire, oh, and he’s the real Superman. Ok ok, I lied about the last bit, but the rest is true, honest! If you like what you see (and I’m sure you will) check him out at http://pribek.net/.

The Culture Of More

The three major sports leagues (the N.F.L., Major League Baseball, and the N.B.A.) are flush with controversy.

Michael Vick’s alleged involvement in the world of dog-fighting, Barry Bonds chasing Hank Aaron’s home run record amid even more allegations of steroid use, and N.B.A. referee Tim Donaghy’s point shaving scandal are all signs of the times. They are part of the culture of wanting more.

Obviously, I can only speculate on any of these individuals’ motives. However, it is clear that they wanted something more out of life, be it excitement, respect, recognition, or money, than what they had.

Why would Michael Vick, 26-year-old who has made millions as a player and from endorsements, immerse himself in a seedy, underground, barbaric environment fueled by high stakes gambling? What is so lacking in his life?

Why would Barry Bonds, who was already on track to be a first ballot hall of famer, even consider tarnishing his legacy?

For some reason they wanted more. Wanting more is nothing more than greed. Greed can be the most powerful emotion.

If you want to manipulate somebody, appeal to their greed. Bonds and Vick are examples of how greed, wanting more, is not always about money. Both have surrounded themselves with parasites who have manipulated them on some level by appealing to that greed. They have been manipulated but, at the end of the day, they are victims of only themselves.

Tim Donaghy is breathing different air than those two. Even though he was making close to $300,000 a year for, what amounts to a part time job, he was after the money. Reportedly, he had large gambling debts. It is also being reported that he was involved in the fixing of N.B.A. games and that these activities were tied to mobsters.

David Stern, the commissioner of the N.B.A. has said that this is an “isolated” case and called Donaghy a “rogue”. The media is covering the Donaghy case extensively but, I think, playing down the implications.

Donaghy, who has not been charged but is under F.B.I. investigation, has hired attorney John F. Lauro a man that a few in the press have described as known for representing “whistle blowers”. I was kind of curious about that so I looked up Lauro’s website. Here is a partial list of Lauro’s investigations or “resolved” (read settled, dropped, or plea-bargained) matters.

A high-ranking employee of national hospital chain with regard to investigation concerning the filing of hospital cost reports;

Employees of an insurance brokerage firm in a fraud investigation conducted by the New York Attorney General;

A hospital in connection with an alleged violation of a biohazardous waste statute;

The owner of psychiatric facilities throughout Florida in connection with federal anti-kickback investigation;

An executive employed by a national health care company under investigation for alleged kickback activities relating to physician contracts;

A circuit board manufacturer in connection with criminal environmental charges under the Clean Water Act brought by the Department of Justice;

A soil-remediation company with respect to alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act;

A key financial adviser of a publicly traded company accused of securities and fraud violations;

The chief executive officer of a national education company in connection with alleged securities law violations;

A controller of publicly traded company accused of securities violations by the Securities and Exchange Commission;

A chief financial officer of a major hospital under investigation by the Department of Justice for alleged financial irregularities;

So, why would Lauro want to represent Donaghy? After all, the story is that Donaghy is having financial difficulty. Presumably, he would have trouble paying a lawyer of Lauro’s stature. If you look at the above list and connect the dots, the “whistle blower” idea holds water. Those all appear to be cases where somebody had dirt on somebody else. I’m reading between the lines here but there are a lot of State and Federal entities “resolving” things. So, maybe, Lauro knows that Donaghy has some information that has value; some dirt.

Think about this. To fix a game you have to have somebody on the inside. If you have a group of mobsters that want to fix games and that group somehow appeals to an N.B.A. referee’s greed and manipulates it; do they stop there? If you can get a guy that is making 300 grand under your thumb, why couldn’t you get a referee working a Division 2 game in Ohio for a couple hundred bucks under that thumb even easier? Or, for that matter, an under funded college athlete?

I think that this group of mobsters is going to look for an insider anywhere there is money being wagered. If they got an N.B.A. referee, why not go after an N.F.L. official or a baseball umpire?

Lauro has stated that Donaghy will enter a plea and that implies that he has knowledge of others involved.

Bonds and Vick are evidence that stature and wealth do not provide immunity to greed; Donaghy is evidence that a position of authority is not sacred and big time sports is the culture of more.

Additional comments:

I originally posted this piece on my site Thursday, July 26, 2007. Since I wrote it, a couple of noteworthy things have happened and I have a few thoughts I would like to express.

The N.F.L. and manufacturer, Reebok, have made the decision to stop selling any Michael Vick merchandise. It is being rumored that one of Vick’s associates is seeking a plea bargain based on information about Michael Vick’s involvement in the repugnant dog fighting business.

Barry Bonds has engaged, childishly, in a war of words with Bob Costas through the press. Last night Bonds hit career home run number 754, placing him one behind all-time leader Hank Aaron.

I have a friend who is very intelligent and a big sports fan. He thinks that all of this stuff will blow over and, in the end, be considered no big deal. I don’t know if that opinion is common. I do know that most of the people I have talked with about all of the various and sundry activities associated with big time sports could not care less.

I think that the situations that I wrote about on Thursday and many more that I could cite, do have cultural importance.

If Bonds used steroids, if Vick was involved in dog fighting and if Donaghy was involved in fixing games then, these are all acts of selfishness. As a culture we have and continue to be desensitized to a great number of things. When an individual acts selfishly, it is no surprise. In fact, it is considered the norm; somebody just getting what they can. We are desensitized to selfishness.

The alleged actions of Vick and Donaghy are directly tied to gambling. Gambling is the elephant in the room. The success and growth of big time sports is due more to the prevalence of gambling than anyone involved in the business of sports would like to talk about.

Sports’ gambling is a huge business, whether legally or otherwise. If you have a little action on a game, you are more interested. The disproportionate amounts of money made by athletes, teams and leagues are partially due to the gambling element.

The lure of gambling is the possibility of getting something for nothing. What could be more selfish than that? Therefore, we as consumers are somewhat to blame for creating and deifying these arrogant, selfish spots figures. We too, are part of the culture of wanting more.


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2 responses

30 07 2007
moremoremore

Great read.

Another thing that speaks to our “more” culture is the way we treat the animals who ultimately feed us: http://www.unboundedition.com/content/view/1676/50/

It’s time to make some changes.

30 07 2007
Rhangren

I had not realized that the attorney he hired was considered a “whistle blower” lawyer. He has also represented security cases. This will be very interesting how this turns out.

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