Why We Look the Other Way

Chuck Klosterman asks if we’re ready to take a sober look at what is likely a widespread drug problem in the NFL, or if our wish to bear witness to extra-human theatrics on Sunday incentivizes us to look the other way. And, of course, he brings it back to Dylan and The Beatles:

“It’s a subtle paradox: People choose to ignore the relationship between performance enhancers and the NFL because it’s unquestionably the league where performance enhancers would have the biggest upside. But what will happen when such deliberate naïveté becomes impossible? Revelatory drug scandals tend to escalate exponentially (look at Major League Baseball and U.S. track and field). Merriman, Sauerbrun and the other 33 players suspended by the NFL since 2002 could be exceptions; it seems far more plausible they are not. We are likely on the precipice of a bubble that is going to burst. But if it does, how are we supposed to feel about it? Does this invalidate the entire sport, or does it barely matter at all?

This is where things become complicated.

It can be strongly argued that the most important date in the history of rock music was Aug. 28, 1964. This was the day Bob Dylan met the Beatles in New York City’s Hotel Delmonico and got them high. Obviously, a lot of people might want to disagree with this assertion, but the artistic evidence is hard to ignore. The introduction of marijuana altered the trajectory of the Beatles’ songwriting, reconstructed their consciousness and prompted them to make the most influential rock albums of all time. After the summer of 1964, the Beatles started taking serious drugs, and those drugs altered their musical performance. Though it may not have been their overt intent, the Beatles took performance-enhancing drugs. And this is germane to sports for one reason: Absolutely no one holds it against them. No one views Rubber Soul and Revolver as “less authentic” albums, despite the fact that they would not (and probably could not) have been made by people who weren’t on drugs … The question, ultimately, is this: If it turns out the lifeblood of the NFL is unnatural, does that make the game less meaningful?”