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Today's Column

What Does Bush Really Know About Sports?
by Jimmy Johnson

President George W. Bush delivered his annual State of the Union Address on Tuesday night, with all his great plans for 2004.

Yes, I know. You are now checking the top of this page to make sure you are still in the sports section. Do not fear. You are still in the right spot.

During President Bush's speech, he dropped a bomb when calling for all athletes and pro leagues to stop the use of all steroids and performance-enhancing drugs.

"The use of performance-enhancing drugs, like steroids, in baseball, football and other sports ... sends the wrong message [to America's youth]: that there are shortcuts to accomplishment," President Bush said, adding, "and that performance is more important than character."

The statement was followed by loud applause throughout Congress, but not around the pro leagues. The league's lack of applause does not mean they approve of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs, but rather that they disagree with President Bush's statement.

Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Association, made a statement shortly after the speech that said the NFL does not know what the President is talking about.

"I don't know who Bush is talking about, but he's not talking about the NFL, because we've already dealt with steroids, performance-enhancing drugs and all of that," Upshaw said.

Major League Baseball had no comment on the matter, which is no surprise.

I'm not trying to get political here, because I'm a sports writer, not a politician. But my question is, why, in these troubled times, is President Bush trying to deal with this? He can't find a single weapon of mass destruction in Iraq, but he wants to find steroids in athletes.

I don't disagree with the President this time, for I believe the use of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs is bad for our sports and our youth.

However, I do question his true intentions. I think there is more to this than President Bush wanting to protect young athletes. Bush has several ties, emotionally and politically, with major league baseball. He was managing general partner of the Texas Rangers before he was elected governor of Texas on Nov. 8, 1994.

Baseball has been struggling with steroid and performance-enhancing drugs for a long while now, including the death of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler due to the use of Ephedrine.

I think that President Bush sees the struggles of baseball and looks to fix the problems so his close partners with the Texas Rangers and other franchises can benefit from it.

Yeah, it's conspiracy theory-like, but this is the same administration that has had hidden agendas before. It is the same administration that said it had no plans of dealing with Iraq when taking office in 2000, but somehow wrote in a memo their plan to deal with Iraq.

Basically, and this is the bottom line to this whole column, I feel President Bush should keep his head out of sports until he is out of office. Until then, he should get into his office and start dealing with the problems our nation has been facing ever since he set foot in the Oval Office.

Coincidence, I presume.