Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Leadership, or lack thereof

If I had to pick one article to sum up all that is disheartening about the steroid scandal, it's this one. I'd have a hard time finding two worse examples of leadership than Bud Selig and Gene Orza.

First off, Orza completely misses the point about steroid use--it's not about health, it's that sport is at its essence, a human activity. Even Nascar enthusiasts justify their passion as a sport by citing how much physical toil the drivers go through, and how crucial the mechanics and engineers are to building a winning team. The use of performance-enhancing drugs calls into question not simply the legality of training, or the health of the players, but the legitimacy of baseball as a sport. Dr. Leon Kass, chair of the President's Council on Bioethics, gavean excellent interview on NPR that touched on this very issue. If this is not a time to "act in the best interests of the game," there is never a time, Mr. Selig.

But beyond that, Orza's remarks confirm the worst stereotypes about union heads, namely that they most often fail to represent their best, most honest and diligent members in order to enable the abuse of the system by a few. That's not leadership; it's complicity in the worst form. Notice that Orza doesn't say that players are being wrongly accused, because doing so would lead to the obvious response of "let's implement a testing program that will assure that facts, not rumormonguering, will rule the day."

Selig's response is nearly as bad. He's likely trying not to alienate the Union leadership any more than he already has--a reason he should have resigned long ago, but that's another subject. So he doesn't make worse what cost? The expense of the reputation of the players and the integrity of the game. This is just one more example of how ineptly Selig handles public relations, and how little understanding he has of leadership.

No comments: