What happened to our role-models and heroes? Olympic champion sprinter Marion Jones shamefully admits to steroid use; Tennis star Martina Hingis retires from professional play after testing positive for cocaine; NFL football superstar Michael Vick is embroiled in a dog-fighting scandal; F1 racing teams are accused of stealing information from rivals; World chess champion Deep Blue is arraigned for illegally downloading copyrighted material; Golfer Tiger Woods stoops to filming Buick ads; The list of recent scandals in professional sports could continue endlessly.
Many view sport as a microcosm of society itself, and frighteningly, it would seem that the world of professional sport has lost it's moral compass.
Thankfully though, one sport remains as a shining beacon of morality and decency in this sea of corruption. That sport is professional wrestling. I sat down with WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) superstar David 'Batista' Bautista, Jr. for an insider's view of what some are calling 'the last true sport.'
TZ: "Let's cut to the chase. If sport is indeed a microcosm of society at large should the recent rash of scandal cause us to be worried?"
David Bautista: "I do believe that sport is a strong reflection, a zeitgeist if you will, of our society. The pandemic of immorality is indeed troubling, but I believe that individuals and organizations with strong moral fiber shall always remain to fight the tide of corruption. This is what we in the WWE are attempting to do, as individuals and as an organization. As professional wrestlers, we strive, first and foremost to promote strong family values."
TZ: "Many people view athletes, and professional athletes in particular, as role-models, but with the recent rash of scandals involving professional athletes, is there any example of morality remaining in professional sports?"
DB: "I can't really speak for those other atrocities that call themselves sports, but I truly believe that the WWE contains a strong moral fiber, steeped in decency. We are role-models first, wrestlers second. We in the WWE strongly encourage Christian ethics, and discourage profanity, vulgarity or any other licentious conduct."
TZ: "What do you think is causing the overwhelming decay in morality in professional sport?"
DB: "Unfortunately, money makes the world go round, and I believe money is the major motivation for such indecent behavior. With big money on the line, some athletes will do anything it takes to win, including going outside the rules of the sport. I also believe that the pressure to win can be enormous, and many athletes need to find a release. Unfortunately for some, that release is found in less than respectable pursuits. Our organization is a family to its members, and like a good Christian family, we preach openness and acceptance so we will not be tempted by indecency in times of stress."
TZ: "Some sporting events have resorted to lewd conduct, or forced athletes into potentially dangerous conditions in order to improve viewership. The most recent cricket world championship was held in a barbed-wire ringed steel cage. The latest Wimbledon women's tennis championship was a bra-and-panties match, and there is talk that next year's will be fully nude. American college football teams have replaced cheerleaders with exotic dancers. Are such stunts characteristic of the WWE?"
DB: I heard about that cricket mess, how awful! But cricket has never been known as a gentlemanly game, has it? Of course the WWE would never stoop to such lows in order to improve ratings. Our number one commitment is to provide respectable entertainment to our fans, and WWE fans tend to be highly educated and moral individuals who would never be interested by such depravity."
TZ: "Steroid use has caused a lot of controversy recently. What is your take on the use of performance enhancing drugs?"
DB: "I live a holistic lifestyle, and I think drugs of any kind are despicable. My body is a temple and I earned this modest physique (inadvertently tears shirt-sleeve while flexing bicep) through proper nutrition and exercise."
TZ: "Final question, some say that there is too much money being invested in professional sports. Titles and glory can be bought, as the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Cleveland Browns have demonstrated. Parity seems to be disappearing from team sports. Others say that because of big prize money, sports like boxing and hopscotch are sometimes fixed, with winners being predetermined in order to keep fan interest high. Could such things ever occur in the WWE?"
DB: "Such a thing is preposterous! We in the WWE believe that the best athlete on any given night should receive the dignity of emerging victorious."
TZ: "Thank you David, you truly are an American hero."
DB: "You are too kind. I only hope that young men and women can build upon the positive moral image I always strive to provide." (strikes a pose before flying off into the sunset)