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It is no coincidence that two current bad boys of sports agree on what constitutes the essence of sports. Unfortunately it is a philosophy that is getting them, and sports in general, into all sorts of trouble.

Terrell Owens is not a genuine article "bad boy," just a boy with bad manners, someone who represents the garish side of modern sports. He loves to delight the crowds with his antics, on and off the field. In his recent ego-biography, Catch This!, he recognizes that many people think he is "shameless, selfish, egotistical," but he justifies his outrageous behavior with this: "They forget that football is entertainment." Unfortunately, many say his idea of entertainment is like the junior-high kid who thinks burping at the dinner table is funny.

Jose Canseco, on the other hand, is a genuine article bad boy. He's not only self-centered, he's a cheat—something Owens is not. In his just-published best selling tell-all, Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big, he acknowledges that he took steroids all through his baseball career. And he did so primarily to give the fans a good show: "I always saw myself as more of an entertainer than a ballplayer," he writes.

On top of that, he argues, the more steroids the better. With a syllogism worthy of Aristotle, he writes, "People want to be entertained at the ballpark. They want baseball to be fun and exciting. Home runs are fun and exciting. … Steroid-enhanced athletes hit more home runs."

And like a logician, he takes his philosophy to its inevitable conclusion. Baseball is not a contest or competition between two teams—the traditional understanding. Instead, "[Baseball] needs to remember that this is a game about individual athletes ...

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Baseball Isn't Entertainment
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February 2005

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