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Winning (not the Jack Welch Way!)

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Amazing! Like the eponymous race, it seems America loves a cheat better than it likes a treat (unless accompanied by a trick, of course)!

As all kids are told from the moment they step to the plate to try to compensate for the failure of their father(s) to make it to the Big Leagues, what matters is to win. Even corporate icon Jack Welch, of GE fame, admits as much is his new best seller titled, what else? Winning

The lesson is well learned, and is by now ingrained in the culture. We are not even talking about Enron. Marc McGwire, baseball legendary figure, might not make it to the Hall of (in)Fame(y). Why? Because he may have cheated by taking supplements (if not steroids) that may have helped him to improve his performance. Yet, because Mr. McGwire served baseball’s entertainment purposes in a “responsible” manner, sport writers are willing to cut him a lot of slack. See Stark’s rambling on this topic for ESPN.

This compassionate attitude towards cheating to win was also adopted by Kevin Towers, the San Diego Padres general manager, to excuse, well, his own behavior. You see, as he admits himself, Mr. Towers was benefiting from Ken Caminiti’s cheating. It’s OK though. He was trying to win, Halliburton-style. What’s a little overcharging if you meet the numbers? Are you a winner or a loser???? Do you want to be Dubya in Florida or Gore with a beard?

Actually, paraphernalia notes that cheating for performance is encouraged in many fields. Increasing your SAT scores by using Ritalin , friendly killing allies on speed while wearing a US army uniform, or popping Ambien to make your business trips more effective – see March 28, 2005 international edition of Newsweek, p.60 – are considered entirely honorable activities.

Of course, the holier-than-though crowd is harder on bad winners like Barry Bonds. Barry’s black, and does cry on TV. Obviously not a team player, it’s OK to pound on him.

In any case, Mr. Bonds’ fate is not as bad as the fate of those who dare to take drugs just to have fun. These are the real losers. Examples are plentiful. From Tom Sizemore’s recent jail sentence to the so-called Robert Downey Junior problem, to Bhatia in Singapore it seems that popping for fun is not as socially acceptable than injecting for performance, even if your name is Bush (Noelle, that is).

Interestingly enough, Mr. Towers never mentioned Mr. Caminiti’s cocaine use in his soul searching testimony (Hey, even Jack Welch himself was not shy to cheat a little bit). In any event, since Mr. Caminiti is dead, while Mr. Towers still has a good job, we all know who the loser is……

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