We love our professional sports, as well as the Olympics, because they inspire us as examples of the highest human excellence and skill.
Through sports we experience such potential in ourselves, because recent scientific research reveals that we in a sense "live" what we see in such competitions.
For the most part, too, sports are real. When we witness an amazing pass or catch, we are witnessing accomplishments that cannot easily be faked or photo-shopped.
Unlike so much else in life, champions do not reach the highest pinnacle in a sport by the nepotism of being the team owner's nephew or other tilting of the playing board in their favor.
Athletic heroes are a combination of superb genes and super effort, training, and discipline. We honor and reward them as the best of a true meritocracy, and have done so since at least the early Olympics of ancient Greece.
Those who won the great foot races of those first Olympic Games were believed to have been touched by the goddess of victory, Nike. Onlookers would rush to touch the winner to feel and share this presence of divinity, because participating in a contest that evoked this goddess was a religious experience.
Star athletes remain role models for our children. When they win by cheating, their betrayal of athletic heroism can seem almost sacrilegious.
On January 11, Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez was barred by Major League Baseball for 162 games and postseason play in 2014. The reason: he allegedly used MLB-banned performance-enhancing drugs.
Champion bicyclist Lance Armstrong, winner of half a dozen Tour de France races, was stripped of his victories when evidence pointed to his "doping" with prohibited substances.
Such efforts to uphold the integrity of sports are intended to keep the playing field equal for all competing athletes.
As a general rule, almost all of us would say that cheaters should not be honored as winners, that breaking the rules should lead to penalties. That why we have standards, umpires, rules, and referees to keep sports fair.
We have all this even though, in the larger scheme of things, who wins today's playoff game or tomorrow's Olympic Gold Medal means relatively little.
As pundits often say, the beauty of sports is that you can feel total emotional commitment to your team or star athletes, knowing that if they lose your country will not be conquered nor your taxes soar.
I believe that our democratic republic is a vital part of our freedom. I still feel awe, as I will this coming November, when I walk into a polling place to cast my vote along with my neighbors.
We need not give our politicians drug tests — or even I.Q. tests. But I propose that politicians who win by cheating, i.e., lying, using dirty money, or rigging votes, be given at least a year's "suspension" like Alex Rodriguez.
President Barack Obama won by promising that if we like our health insurance and doctor we can keep them — "period." Evidence shows that at the time of such promises he knew his statements were untrue. Mr. Obama and all his presidential powers should be suspended for at least a year.
When a presidential candidate knowingly lies to get a major law enacted — claiming, for example, that Obamacare will cut the average family's insurance cost by $2,500 per year — then such laws as were passed by this kind of deceit should be suspended until voters become referees and elect lawmakers to repeal them.
Yes, it's a utopian dream to find fair "honesty umpires," or agreement as to what is or isn't a political lie. But let's at least try to make non-cheating standards of honesty as important and punishable in our power-addicted politics as they are in our sports.
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