Sunday, February 6, 2011

the fix is in

In the world of U.S. sports, performance-enhancing drugs are met with horror and derision. Hero after hero is called into question or fined or revealed to be, in some way, a faker. The purity of athletic competition is sullied.

On Wall Street, the use of insider information and other manipulations that benefit the few receive catcalls and occasional lawsuits. It ain't right, right?

And now, in Japan, the sumo wrestling championships have been called off because a number of top-flight behemoths are accused of fixing matches.

The only time I ever returned from the track with more money than I came with was a long time ago when I went to the races with a fellow reporter and a firefighter from a nearby community. The firefighter knew people and, a few minutes before each race, he would drift into the crowd and then return and say something laconic like, "I believe I'd bet on the number six horse."

The fix is in.

Is there anything in life so good that it cannot be corrupted? I doubt it. Cynics may delight in this information, thinking themselves more hip or with-it or realistic than the rubes who trust and believe. Belief is delicious, trust feels wonderful ... but then there is cold, hard, realistic cash. Politicians, philosophers and religious adherents are no more or less immune -- a sweeping vision that attracts followers and ... well, what is beautiful and inspiring carries with it what is ugly and unkind.

Believers and cynics don't interest me much. Each camp has something to say for itself within the social forum. What does interest me is the individual's capacity to put in the fix when it comes to his or her own lofty or inspired visions ... finding short-cuts and excuses and manipulative explanations that will produce a result that on the surface is grand and fulfilling, but underneath is pitted with corruption.

This capacity is worthy of more than lofty insults. It is worth looking at and being aware of.

If there is nothing that cannot be 'fixed,' well, who is doing the fixing? Is it worth it? These are not trick questions for which there are right and wrong answers. There are elements of pure trust and soaring belief. There are elements of savvy manipulation and irresponsible cruelty. Who owns this stuff? Trying to write off trust and belief isn't quite it and trying to call corruption into question isn't quite right. So ... what is quite right?

No comments:

Post a Comment