Like every family, mine has its issues. I’m pretty sure that I’ve been predisposed to about six different forms of addiction, a few kinds of cancer, a heart condition here or there, diabetes and just for good measure, most people who know him would agree that my father could replace Danny DeVito on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and the transition would be seamless. And while I’ve been fortunate to lead a relatively normal life for my first 23 years, it’s safe to say that god only knows how I will eventually turn out.
And it should stay that way.
I promise I’m not going to get all religious on you. That’s definitely not my style. I’m the guy who brings a flask to Midnight Mass. My point here is that I don’t want anyone on this earth, especially any future employers, to have access to information about health problems that could pop up for me down the line. My family’s public record already ended any dreams of running for public office. I don’t want my DNA to prevent me from earning a paycheck.
So what does this have to do with sports, you ask? More than you think. Recently it appeared as though two of the world’s greatest boxers, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, were finally going square off in what Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole called “the most anticipated boxing match in at least 25 years.” For the record, Iole is one of the only people in the world who could actually name 25 fighters from the past quarter century, but you get the picture. This was going to be big, big enough for me to actively seek out a feed of the fight on the internet.
But it won’t happen. Some have speculated that the unbeaten Mayweather is running scared. Others have blamed the sport itself, citing that boxing as it is today it too flawed to ever get such a break. Of course, that’s all conjecture. All we do know is that the Mayweather camp’s request for blood testing before and after the fight infuriated Pacquiao, so much so that he filed a defamation lawsuit stating that Mayweather falsely accused him of taking performance-enhancing drugs.
Now obviously there is a much easier way for Pacquiao to prove he’s clean. He could just submit to a blood test and everything would be solved right there. But he won’t and he shouldn’t. Blood testing in sports is the next step to blood testing in the real world, and while the cynic in me doubts that Pacquiao’s refusal is his way of standing up to Big Brother, I appreciate that he is holding firm.
It’s easy to say we want sports to be drug free at all costs, but that’s because we aren’t paying attention to what it might cost us. In 2005, the Chicago Bulls asked their then-22 year old center Eddy Curry to take a DNA test to see if a heart condition he was suffering from could be fatal. Curry refused over concern that the team might find other pre-existing conditions and not want to re-sign him.
What if a similar situation occurred in your workplace? What if blood testing revealed you had a weak heart and a healthier person got a promotion over you? Recent legislation actually prohibits companies from using genetic information to hire, fire or promote, but have far more serious threats from the government stopped businesses from discriminating based on race or gender yet? When it comes down to investing a lot of money in an employee, the maximum $300,000 penalty will probably seem well worth it to some companies.
Blood testing would open a whole new can of worms that we do not want to deal with. On Wednesday, New York Mets’ star third basemen David Wright told WFAN’s Mike Francesa he would support a stricter drug testing policy in baseball, including blood testing for HGH.
"Obviously it would be tough to test with the blood samples,” Wright said. “But anything to clean this game up, I'm all for it. I would love to say that 100 percent of the guys in this game are 100 percent clean."
We all would.
But not if it means having to give up 100 percent of a person’s personal information.