SPORTS SCANDALS

Reading Assignment

"The Grand Old Game Withstands A Wallop"

"Man of the Decade"

"Saving the National Pastime's Image"

"So Fast, So Cool"

"Baseball Will Survive This Latest Setback"

Viewing Assignment

Pacer's N Piston's Brawl (2 minutes, 7 seconds on YouTube)

Terms to know

1919 Chicago White Sox - (Also known as the Eight Men Out or the Black Sox) Team which intentionally lost the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds because of relationship with gamblers.  Plot was led by Chick Gandil, and included seven other players, most notably "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, Charles "Lefty" Williams, Eddie Cicotte and Buck Weaver (who never took a dime).
Pete Rose - Baseball's all time hit king, one time MVP, Rookie of the Year, three time batting champ, multiple times All Star, manager of the Cincinnati Reds, sure fire Hall of Famer, banned from baseball for gambling.
Dowd Report - John Dowd-led investigation of gambling by Pete Rose, which led to Rose's banishment from Major League Baseball.
Bart Giamatti - Commissioner of Major League Baseball who banned Pete Rose from the game.
Point Spread - a gambling system used to equalize chances of bettors who wish to bet on a weaker team.
Point Shaving - a system of betting known as the Point Spread led to shaving of points, whereby basketball players help their team win, but intentionally miss shots so their team does not cover the Point Spread.
Push - in gambling terms, a tie
Connie Hawkins - New York City schoolboy basketball star banned from basketball from associating with gamblers while in high school, later exonerated and played in NBA, where he became a Hall of Famer

Steroids - Performance Enhancing Drugs
HGH, EPO - other chemicals originally designed for health reasons and used by athletes to improve performance.
BALCO - Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative - Lab busted by FBI for dealing in steroids, including many star athletes notably former Olympic Track Champion Marion Jones.

Sample test questions

What is the importance of Major League Baseball not appearing to be fixed?

What is the impact of the Black Sox scandal?

Should fans concern themselves with steroid abuse by professional athletes?

What is the impact on society of steroid abuse by professional athletes?

Should athletes be stripped of their records if they are found to be using performance enhancing drugs?

What is the impact of point shaving on the integrity of college basketball?

Are college athletics filled with hypocrisy?

I. The Black Sox Scandal - Eight Men Out

In 1921, eight members of the Chicago White Sox (forever known as the Black Sox) were accused of throwing the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. The eight men of the Black Sox were A Shoeless@ Joe Jackson, Chick Gandil, Buck Weaver, Fred McMullin, Happy Felsch, and Swede Risberg, along with pitchers Lefty Williams and Eddie Cicotte.

The White Sox had already been a successful franchise when the y posted baseball= s best record in 1919. They had won the World Series in 1906 and 1917. In spite of their success on the field, the team was among the poorest paid teams, because of the stinginess of owner Charles Comiskey. Many people believed the only reason the players tried to throw the series was because they were so poorly paid. With the so-called A Reserve Clause,@ the players were not free to go and play for a team that would pay them better. There was no players union to protect the ballplayers well being. Promises of better pay for success on the field went unkept. The players had to pay to clean their uniforms.

Gamblers were a familiar sight at ballparks in 1919, and had been for many years. Fixed baseball games were no secret. Players throwing individual games seemed to be common knowledge. Though Mr. Comiskey banned betting at his ballpark, gamblers showed up in force at Comiskey. Since the players considered themselves grossly underpaid, the situation was ripe for trouble.

The leader of the eight Black Sox, Chick Gandil, was friendly with gambler Joseph Sullivan, and was known to throw games for pay. He was willing to cut a deal for $100,000 to throw the entire World Series, and Sullivan went to get money lined up, while Gandil sought out players to do the throwing. Pitcher Eddie Cicotte had been promised $10,000 from Mr. Comiskey if he won 30 games. After he won his 29th game, he was benched to help him rest up for the Series, and he never got his 10 grand. Cicotte was willing to join the deal, along with Lefty Williams who had won 23 games that year. Others heard about the plot and got in on the deal. Shoeless Joe Jackson was offered $10,000 and then $20,000, but refused payment, even though Gandil informed him the deal was set. Buck Weaver sat in on the meetings and was invited to join but also refused.

The Sox were a heavy favorite to win the series, and betting was brisk on their winning, until rumors began to spread that a deal was set. Odds of 5-1 in favor of the Sox shifted over to the Reds. Before the series started, Cicotte found $10,000 in his hotel room. The Sox lost the first two games (a best of nine series) but the fixers were unhappy since they only had been paid $10,000 of the expected $40,000. Other players on the Sox were bitter because they could tell that their teammates were throwing the games. When the Sox won game three, the gamblers started to pay up, fearing that the Reds would not win. The Sox promptly lost games four and five. When the money stopped again, the Sox won games six and seven, now in hopes of getting their winners share of $5000.

Gambler Arnold Rothstein was unhappy because he had bet not on individual games but on the entire series for the Reds to win. Now fearing he would lose his bet, he threatened the life of Lefty Williams and his wife. Williams, pitching game eight, made sure the Reds won the series.

By 1920, the fact the series was thrown was common knowledge. Baseball officials refused to admit they had a problem, fearing that fans would stop coming to the games. During the next season, players from several other teams were believed to be throwing games. In September, a Cook County, Illinois grand jury opened an investigation into charges the Chicago Cubs had purposely thrown games. When called to testify about their knowledge of fixed games, Cicotte and Jackson admitted that the World Series had been fixed.

The grand jury handed down indictments against the eight White Sox, several other players and gamblers. Rothstein, who had won $270,000 on the series, was found murdered by a fellow gambler. The eight men faced trial in 1921, but were acquitted when their grand jury testimonies were somehow misplaced!

Baseball was not so kind to the eight players. Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis was appointed commissioner of baseball by the owners, who feared that if fans accepted baseball as fixed, they would reject the game. Landis was hired to clean up the game without regard. Landis banned the eight players for life, and never rescinded the ban. In the end, Weaver and Jackson were banned not because they threw games or accepted money from gamblers, but because they knew of the plan and did not speak up. Other major league baseball players all understood that if they were found fixing games, they too would be banned.

II. College basketball point shaving scandals

A The point spread was the greatest invention since the zipper.@

In the 1940s and 1950s, in part because of grand jury investigations arising in New York City, college basketball was rocked with stories of fixed basketball games. Players were suspected and charged with A point shaving,@ that is, missing shots which change the final scores of games to cover or fail to cover points spreads, but without changing the outcome of the game. The most famous episode involved players from CCNY, which won both the 1950 NIT and NCAA basketball championships, and players from a perennial national powerhouse, the University of Kentucky. Point shaving scandals continued into 1961 at colleges such as Columbia, St John= s and North Carolina State, in the 1970s at Boston College, in the 1980s at Tulane University, a scandal which shut down the college= s program, and continued into the late 1990s at Arizona State and Northwestern. Numerous college players were convicted and served time for their roles in these scandals

A famous episode involved a legendary NYC schoolyard player, Connie Hawkins, the A Hawk,@ an inner city phenom from the heavily black section of Brooklyn called Bedford Stuyvesant. His abilities were playground stories for a generation on the streets of New York. A Parade Magazine All-American at Boys High School, Hawkins went to the University of Iowa (A they seemed like nice people, and they offered me the most money@ ), but never played a game, because his name surfaced over the 1961 investigations of point shaving. Reportedly, Hawkins introduced another player to a gambler involved in the scandal. This was never proven. He was never indicted or convicted of any point shaving charges.

But Iowa had heard enough, and Hawkins never suited up once for the university. The NBA also banned him, and Hawkins was sentenced to a lifetime of play for minor league basketball or the Harlem Globetrotters. In 1967 he signed to play with a new league, the ABA, and became its biggest star, and he was joined by others who had been banned from the NBA concerning point shaving, but also were never convicted of any wrongdoing.

In 1969, Life Magazine ran a story which strongly suggested Hawkins had been railroaded, and that he never was involved in any point shaving schemes. Hawkins= s lawsuit against the NBA was settled for a cool $1 million, and he was allowed to sign with the Phoenix Suns, at the age of 27.

Hawkins had some fine years in the league, with three different teams, was an all star several times, and put on displays of aerobatic moves on the court that Julius Erving and Michael Jordan would later be lauded for. But time caught up with him far too quickly, and he retired at the end of the 1975 season at age 33. He averaged around 16 points a game for his career.

By all measure, Hawk had a decent NBA career for someone who played only six seasons. But he earned final vindication for his abilities and for what he lost when he was unfairly banned by both the NCAA and NBA, when he voted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 1991.

III. Pete Rose v. Bart Giamatti

Pete Rose (Charlie Hustle) is baseball= s all-time hit king. He seemed to be a sure fire hall of famer when he retired. He had been the National League Rookie of the Year in 1963, and had been three times league batting champ and once MVP.  In 1984 he became player-manager of the Cincinnati Reds, the team he had broken in with back in 1962. He retired as a player after the 1986 season.

Bart Giamatti was a life long Red Sox fan and baseball purist. A college professor, he had risen to become the youngest president ever of Yale University in 1977. In April 1989, the baseball owners were impressed enough to name him baseball commissioner.

Rose began gambling heavily on sports in the 1980s. In February, 1989, Pete Rose was called to then commissioner Peter Uberroth= s office for a meeting which included Giamatti. In the meeting Rose denied any wrong doing concerning gambling on baseball or on his Reds team. John Dowd was retained by MLB to investigate Rose= s gambling.

The Dowd report uncovered massive baseball gambling on the part of Rose, including betting on games involving the Reds. He was thought to be gambling as much as $10,000 a day. On August 24, 1989, after weeks of meetings and rumors, commissioner Giamatti accepted a plea from Rose and banned him from baseball for life, for the integrity of the game. Though Rose admitted no wrongdoing, Giamatti acknowledged that he believed Rose had indeed bet on baseball games. Eight days later, on September 1, Giamatti died from a heart attack.

In 1991 Rose was found guilty of income tax evasion from income earned at sports memorabilia events. He served prison time for his crimes. He has since applied for reinstatement to the game, but current commissioner Bud Selig has not made any decision. In 2004, Rose admitted in a book that he had indeed bet on baseball games, including games involving his Reds team, but had never bet against his team. Unless his ban is lifted, he can never be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame

IV. Steroids

Athletes have used modern medicine for years to enhance their performances and to overcome injuries. Drugs have long been suspected of improvement in athlete performances in the Olympic Games. There seems little doubt that the Olympic athletes of the Communist nations had more than just a bit of performance enhancing help.

But testing has not always proven drug abuse, though occasionally high profile athletes have been caught, such as Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson, whose medals in the 1998 Seoul Olympic Games were voided.

Is using performance enhancing drugs any different than pole vaulters changing from bamboo poles to fiberglass poles? Is it any different than a tennis player who traded in his old wooden racket? Aren= t records made to be broken? Don= t AChicks love the long ball@ ? Baseball pitchers have cheated for years scuffing up baseballs. NASCAR crew chiefs bend the rules every weekend. NBA players get away with walking every night.

The Rise and Fall of the Home Run

1927: Babe Ruth hits 60 home runs
1961: Roger Maris hits 61 home runs
1998: Mark McGwire hits 70 home runs, and Sammy Sosa hits 66
2001: Barry Bonds hits 73 home runs
2004:  Federal investigation of BALCO

Congress has held hearings on cleaning up all sports from steroid and drug abuse. Hearings which included baseball players such as Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa along with commissioner Bud Selig, left the public skeptical of player denials of drug usage. It remains to be seen whether the major sports leagues in this country will be allowed to clean up their own programs, or whether Congress will legislate drug testing. As one cynical sportswriter put it so correctly, Roger Maris really does need an asterisk next to his record of 61 home runs: The asterisk should point out that Maris was the last man to hit 60 home runs without the help of steroid enhancing drugs.

The 1976 East German Olympic swimming team v.  Shirley Babashoff
Bill Romanowski
Lance Armstrong
Tim Donahy
Florence Griffith Joyner (Flo-Jo)

Recommended Reading:

Pete Axthelm, The City Game, 1970
David Wolf, Foul! The Connie Hawkins Story, 1971
Lance Armstrong with Sally Jenkins, It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life, 2000.
Jose Canseco, Juiced, 2005.
Pete Rose, My Life Without Bars, 2003.