The Revisionist History Debate Verdict

May 19, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Loyal Homer and Sports Geek.

Fuel up the DeLorean, charge the Time Flux capacitor to 1.21 gigawatts of electricity, and set the controls for the football season for 2009, because TSD is about to go back… to the future.

Today’s debate pits Loyal Homer and Sports Geek against each other in a debate about Brian Cushing’s Defensive Rookie of the Year Award, and the sanctity of the space time continuum (well, it’s more about the former than the latter). Recently it came to the public’s attention that Brian Cushing tested positive for a substance banned by the NFL’s performance enhancing drug policy. In fact, as Sports Geek pointed out, it is the substance that is typically reserved for the fairer sex, the same substance that Manny Ramirez served a 50 game suspension for last season. Because of the revelation that Cushing’s dominance might be more a reflection of what he was putting in his body than his natural talent and heart, many have cried foul and suggested that he be stripped of his award. It appeared that the Associated Press heard the public’s cries for a revote, but should they have? Loyal Homer and Sports Geek each attempted to answer not whether the Associated Press got it right in awarding Cushing the award twice, but whether or not the AP should have revoted on the issue.

Loyal Homer’s argument centered around the potential dangers of setting what he called “a disturbing precedent” by attempting to alter history. Loyal Homer took the old “if we change the past who knows what type of trouble it might cause” defense. While I don’t think the revote will cause some sort of sideways flash to an alternate universe straight out of Lost, I do understand the point he is trying to make. A new precedent of stripping players of awards could give historians cart blanche to edit the records books and many feel this is one slippery slope better left alone. His argument was made even more effective by the fact that he backed up his assertion with the fact that a revote has never been the policy of the NFL. Citing Julius Peppers as an example, Loyal Homer proved that the NFLs previous inaction when evidence of cheating surfaced.

Sports Geek came back swinging, and I would like to personally congratulate Sports Geek for the viciousness and ruthlessness he displayed in the debate. He not only belittled Cushing for taking what he called a “lady-roid,” but also compared him to the infamous Kate Gosslin, earning him some serious points in my book. Sports Geek’s argument focused on the policy of a revote providing increased credibility and transparency in the awards selection process. He completely dismissed the criticism against revoting and altering the future of sports by explaining that a lack of previous precedent does not justify a lack of action. Sports Geek indicated that a sport/league can change, often for the better, so why shouldn’t the rules and policies that govern them evolve and adapt as well? He ended by making a powerful point, and pandering to my patriotic nature (which of course wins of course is yet another Ruthless tactic employed by Sports Geek in this one). He stated that if the validity of an award is called into question, the democratic and American thing to do is to reexamine the contested issue in light of new evidence.

I could not agree more, and that is why Sports Geek walks away with this one.

Now more than ever players should attempt to be above reproach during the steroid era. A lack of precedent is not enough reason to keep the record books from re-examining situations. I remember vividly the depressed feeling I had when Barry Bonds broke the all-time home run record. Even though I could not prove it, everything in my body felt that a cheater was stealing something precious from the memory of the sport I loved. Should definitive proof ever come to light indicating he did indeed cheat, I certainly wouldn’t want a mere lack of precedent be the reason Barry sits atop a throne of lies in the record books. That’s how I feel. I do not care what the consequences are for the future.

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The Revisionist History Debate

May 18, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Loyal Homer and Sports Geek.

Brian Cushing has won the AP Rookie of the Year award not once but twice. In light of a recent four game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing drug policy, the AP reconsidered whether he was still the most deserving candidate. While Cushing retained the award, the fact that the AP actually took action and revoted carries potentially huge ramifications for contemporary sports. In a time where legacies are tainted because of PED accusations, should the historians and records keepers have the ability to reconsider awards and achievements?

Many in the sports media have weighed in on Brian Cushing’s situation, and today TSD examines this decision and the implications it has for the future of sports. Should the AP have revoted Cushing’s Rookie of the Year award?

Loyal Homer argues against the AP’s decision to revote, and Sports Geek counters with his argument that the revote was justified.

Gentlemen make your best arguments the first time. Unlike the Cushing decision there will not be a revote.

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The Revisionist History Debate… New Evidence Requires More Informed Decision Making

May 18, 2010

Read the opposing argument from Loyal Homer.

Developing a system that effectively, and consistently, metes out punishments and secures justice is not easy task. Civilizations have been trying to perfect the idea for Centuries.

While establishing the perfect legal system is not a realistic notion, the dedication to continuous improvement is as mandatory as that pursuit is noble. As science becomes both more sophisticated and more practical, lawyers and judges are burdened with the responsibility of reviewing new evidence and determining if a case is worth reopening.

Now, I am not taking my argument in the direction of whether enough evidence existed to warrant a revote in the first place. It is clear that it does, it is clear Cushing cheated, and clear that he has received a four game suspensions as punishment for his actions.

It is easy to get bogged down in the details of this case, too, in researching the drug that he tested positive for, the weird excuses, the professionally crafted image, and the basic disbelief by every onlooker. Cushing isn’t going to win many likability contests right now (unless you put him up against that Kate lady from Jon & Kate Plus 8). The point is, Cushing was guilty, but the bizarre system constructed for voting on awards initially allowed him to walk away with trophy in hand. If only there was some other way to prevent this type of injustice from happening. If only there was some precedent somewhere that experts could look to as an example of how best to approach this type of situation.

Wait, the United States legal system has just such a precedent. When science finally caught up to the business of making justice, the U.S. court system allowed DNA evidence to reopen already decided cases in instances where new evidence may prove innocence… or more to the point, prove a shadow of a doubt.

While Cushing’s season was furiously underway, and he was impressing the naïve fans and media alike, Cushing was fighting a different kind of battle behind the scenes with the NFL. After testing positive for that “lady-roid” (the same one Manny Ramirez was busted for), Cushing fought the ruling tooth and nail, trying to claim legitimate cause for having test results that warranted his impending suspension. Well after the season concluded, and well after the draft was over, it was revealed to the world that Cushing had tested positive and he was suspended. Then the AP voters made the type of decision that is as momentous as it is mandatory in reopening the vote for 2009 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year.

The goal of any good news organization – and the AP is a not just a good news organization, but a GREAT one – is credibility and transparency. The AP has held steadfast to both principles in this case by opening up the revote. The commitment to justice is credible, and the entire process, from the APs perspective, has been transparent. The idea that sports writers are infallible, and not subject to second-guessing their initial ideas based on new evidence, is preposterous. It is also irrelevant. The Steroids Era across all sports calls for a new course of action from sports writers to account for the misdeeds. The revote is the right move.

The primary counter-argument to reopening voting for Cushing’s award is that it has never been done before, and there is a chance that a negative precedent may be set. That is an invalid argument. Throughout history a number of different folks have been presented with the opportunity to change history. Those who changed history were not afraid to set new precedent. Certainly this AP award vote is not a major event in the course of humankind, but a similar lack of fear for setting a precedent must exist for the NFL to continue to modernize and move forward.

There are some old stand-bys that think they are fighting a noble battle by refusing, or abusing, the perfectly legitimate revote process. Ed Bouchette, for one, changed his vote TO Cushing, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, as a way of protesting the revote. This is what I call “Henry Ford Mentality.” Henry Ford was famous for many advances in the world of business, production, and manufacturing. But, he was also famous for his denial about the evolution of business. He famously quipped that consumers could purchase a Model T in any color they wished, as long as it was black. Bouchette and his ilk are modern day Henry Ford’s, refusing to adapt to changing market conditions and accept market drivers. In Ford’s case the market driver was (quite literally) the consumer. In the modern sports era, the driver is as much production as it is justice.

The Cushing revote only superficially SEEMS unjust. Yes, the NFL blew it in allowing Cushing to be on the list for voters to evaluate when recasting their votes. But the idea of a revote should not be questioned. It is right – and fair. Just remember that the crazy thing about democracy is that the majority rules, even if the majority is wrong. Just ask Al Gore supporters.

If questions about a vote’s validity persist, the NFL should take a page out of the book OF LAW that the U.S. established. If new evidence exists, institute a revote to fully establish a just verdict.

Besides, I know if I were the player whose award-winning validity was debatable, I would want another vote to make my victory above reproach. I have nothing to hide, so why fight a good system… the type of system that is specifically designed to seek out justice and reward fairness? Anything less would be un-American.

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The Revisionist History Debate… The Decision Has Been Made so Stick With It!

May 18, 2010

Read the opposing argument from Sports Geek.

As a sports fan I get quite disgusted with repeated occurrences of hearing about how athletes, either knowingly or unknowingly, took performance-enhancing drugs. It doesn’t matter what sport it’s in. Recently, Texans linebacker Brian Cushing was suspended four games after testing positive for hCG. That falls in line with the rules set by the NFL. I’m perfectly fine with that punishment, obviously. However, when talk began to center around the possibility of taking a revote for Defensive Rookie of the Year, I cringed and shook my head. Thankfully, in the revote, the voters chose not to change their earlier decision. Also, the fact they decided to revote totally opens up a can of worms and sets a disturbing precedent.

Obviously, no one is condoning the fact that Cushing violated the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. But I have questions about how all of this came out. Cushing supposedly tested positive back in September. What month are we in now? May?! Why are we just finding out about this now? Why weren’t the voters even told about this when they originally voted? Does it take that long to find out the results? It does not! The original voting of this award was done shortly after the end of the regular season in January. How realistic is it to overturn an award given four months ago?

Flash back to 2002. Then Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. This was despite Peppers violating the league’s drug policy. It turns out he took a banned dietary supplement. What he took is beside the point. If it was okay then, why shouldn’t it be ok now? That’s what voter John McClain of the Houston Chronicle based his vote on. He said, “In good conscience, I couldn’t NOT vote for him after voting for Julius Peppers in 2002 knowing he’s tested positive.”

In addition, a Pandora’s box of problems is opened up if you revisit history and change the chartered course set some four months earlier. If this revote had overturned the previous decision, the NFL would have set a precedent not only for its own sport, but for other sports as well. What if other award winners test positive at some point in the future? Maybe he was juiced up during his award winning season. How do you determine if that was the case? To avoid any future problems, the AP should have just stuck with its original vote and left it at that. It just wouldn’t be worth the headache that it would have caused if the award had been rescinded.

The decision has been made. The people, or in this case, the voters, had already spoken! Stick with it!
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