The changing nature of our athletes

Today there is a vibrant international sport industry that has witnessed the emergence of millionaires among athletes and coaches.
Television rights have led to massive inflows of cash and investors are everywhere eager to get involved.
The upshot is that athletes have been pushed to ever higher performance levels to justify the appeal of the different sporting disciplines to spectators in the area as well as at home before their television sets.
The pressures are endless and in the process athletes have had difficulty sustaining peak performance without the aid of drugs. Thereby hangs a tale.
Managers and agents appear more critical to the future of the athlete’s success in sport than the coach and the athletes themselves.
Gamblers have also taken great interest in sport and as we have seen in cricket and most recently in Italian football, there are always willing allies whose desire to profiteer takes them well beyond the permissible norms of sport.
Athletes have been cajoled into believing that participation is inconsequential unless it results in victory.
Winning is everything. It does not matter what one has to do to achieve this success.
The values attendant to sport and participation in sport have been driven away leaving us with aggression ahead of style and finesse, vengeance instead of friendly rivalry and a wanton desire to destroy the opponents before the watchful eyes of the world.
As with other areas of endeavour in the business world a sort of recklessness has appeared in sport that deprives the athlete of an understanding of his/her well-being in pursuit of glory and money. Life is of little consequence.
The Canadian experience following the Ben Johnson affair of 1988 revealed some startling information. Despite the shame and embarrassment resulting from the incident, there were students who were prepared to use drugs to look good and to enhance their performances in sport.
In the recent past, Kellie Whyte, suspended from athletics competition for two-years following positive tests in 2003, has observed that several young athletes, knowing of her predicament, still approached her for information of what they can use to help them perform better. The implication here is that despite the consequences there are many athletes for whom the moments of glory and the access to money resulting therefrom are most important.