At present, the fact that the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball are being investigated for hacking into an internal database of the Houston Astros is coursing its way through mainstream media, starting with the front page of the 17 June issue of The New York Times. Predictably, many questions have been raised about how valuable are privately held bits of information about certain players, and what this means for sports in the information age. The answer, while an uncomfortable one for a society that wants to bring overarching meaning to everything, is nothing.
If in this day and age, one cannot concede that the money-machine that is professional sports is even shadier and more corner-cutting than it appears to be at face value, he/she is simply not paying attention. Baseball, for one, has a tradition of gamesmanship that extends back over 100 years, and many historic moments such as Bobby Thomson’s “shot heard round the world” in 1951, have seen their heroic legacies grown upon the foundation of cynicism and cheating. Therefore, while the method for doing something like what the Cardinals allegedly did isn’t familiar, the premise behind it is one as old as professional sports themselves. Baseball, and to a larger extent, the entire world of professional sports, have merely caught up to to the rest of society’s implementation of technology into the most basic aspects of life, and thus, this instance of hacking is nothing that one wouldn’t expect.
Beyond Major League Baseball, and its less than exemplary attitude to morality in the past, one can find an abundance of facts that show, in organizations ranging from Little League to FIFA, that if one believes in the purity of a sports organization, his/her trust is misplaced. Sports teams, organizations, and most people associated with them regard the rules that naive fans see as untouchable in the way drivers treat speed limits, and this will not change anytime soon. So, Cardinals fans shouldn’t feel ashamed when dealing with these accusations and the outrage that Astros fans might have is misplaced – if it wasn’t the Cardinals that were caught, it would have been someone else. This is the inconvenient truth that sports fans must realize and deal with, and will have to continue to interact with until the day that money and sports are no longer intertwined in the way they are now. Human beings have shown that when money is involved, whether it is in or out of the sports world, lines are crossed, and rules are mere suggestions, temporary roadblocks on the path to profit.