The WNBA has relocated to Tulsa in the form of the Shock, and today the team held a press conference to announce the signing of Marion Jones.
In 99 percent of American cities, this would constitute Page D17 newsâ€”has-been 34-year-old track cheater decides to play in a league that (if we’re being honest here) nobody watches. This being Tulsa, however, Jones’ signing made waves. There’s the proverbial excitement in the air; people are psyched for Shock basketball; to see Jones leading the team on the break, just like she did at UNC all those years ago. (Admittedly, I’m taking a stab here. I’ve been to Tulsa, and commonly cite it atop my list, AMERICA’S LAMEST CITIES. Maybe nobody gives a damn about Jones. Odds are they do).
I’ll admit, I find myself mildly intrigued by the Jones signing, in that it makes yet another loud statement about how pathetic we are when it comes to athletes, drugs and cheating. Not all that long ago, Jones used performance-enhancing drugs to transform herself from a fast person to a track and field icon. Quite literally, she stole medals from someone who was clean. Maybe the clean sprinter came in fourth; maybe 10th; maybe 12th. Somewhere out there, however, exists a runner who competed in the Olympics sans HGH or steroids or whatever. That person has the right to give Jones an enormous middle finger.
As far as I’m concerned, Marion Jones, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Jack Cust, Shawne Merrimanâ€”once you’ve been caught, you’re done. Over. Done. Not in life, obviously, but in sports. Once you’ve cheated, you no longer have the right to compete on a seemingly fair playing field. The Shock press release semi-praised Jones for “coming clean.” But she didn’t come clean. Like all the other frauds, she was caught, then stepped up. Huge difference.
If Marion Jones wants to be an actress, a nurse, a video game tester, a drummer, a lawyerâ€”hey, she has that right. But not an athlete. Not any longer.