Prof takes a swing at history of baseball scandals, the modern athlete
WEST LAFAYETTE - Baseball will continue to score with fans despite the national pastime's steroids scandal, says a Purdue University professor of history. "Fans are so jaded because there have been so many scandals involving all kinds of athletes that it doesn't affect baseball or any other sport anymore," says Randy Roberts, distinguished professor of history.
(Media-Newswire.com) - WEST LAFAYETTE - Baseball will continue to score with fans despite the national pastime's steroids scandal, says a Purdue University professor of history.
"Fans are so jaded because there have been so many scandals involving all kinds of athletes that it doesn't affect baseball or any other sport anymore," says Randy Roberts, distinguished professor of history. "It's still about the game and baseball's competitive spirit. The summer that saved baseball was the summer of 1998 when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were chasing Roger Maris' home-run record. Even though allegations of steroid use overshadow such baseball statistics and records, the fans are still faithful."
But while athletes are still admired, fans' perceptions and expectations of modern athletes has changed, Robert says.
"Athletes aren't role models; they are pitch men," Robert says. "They sell products. Basketball player Charles Barkley said it best. 'If you want a role model, look at your parents, minister or teachers, but don't look at me.' Just because they are athletes doesn't equip them to become a role model."
However, such negative behavior, specifically the allegations of steroid abuse, will continue to be a concern for the U.S. government.
"Congress has investigated baseball for one reason or another for at least 50 years or more," Roberts says.
In 1922 Congress gave baseball an antitrust exemption, which means Major League Baseball is not subject to the same regulations as a business or other professional sports that operate from across states.
"Because of this, the two have a special relationship; and the government is always threatening to take this status away if baseball does not clean up its act."
More about Randy Roberts Distinguished professor of history
Randy Roberts has published 13 books on history and sports. His subjects have included Jack Johnson, John Wayne, Mike Tyson, Jack Dempsey, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Boston sports, the Vietnam War, Charles Lindbergh and the Alamo. He also has published works on film director Oliver Stone, American presidents, Sherlock Holmes, women's sports, and the politics and economics of televised boxing.
Roberts has made more than 50 appearances on television documentaries and films for the History Channel, ESPN Classic, HBO, BBC, PBS, E!TV and on the ABC, CBS and NBC networks.
As a pop culture historian, Roberts is a regular on History Channel's "Reel To Real," and he also served as a consultant and on-camera expert for the Emmy Award-winning series "10 Days that Unexpectedly Changed America" and the award-winning Ken Burns documentary "Unforgivable Blackness."
Roberts was named the 2006 Indiana Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation.
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