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In dealing with athletes, playtime is over.

The year 2005 was not a good one in sports to be a radical or a renegade: The pendulum swung to create a more stringent culture that sat suspected sinners before Congress and suspended the insufferable. This pattern of anti-petulance had much to do with public opinion. "Juxtaposed with natural disasters that people have suffered around the world, with the war in Iraq, people are more willing to ask ... 'Why aren't [athletes] more grateful for what they have? Why do they need to cheat?'" says the director of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University. "In baseball's case, Congress gave it the leverage to take on the steroid problem, but teams and league officials have also sensed that people have had enough, and they have had to do something to reverse the trend." The cultural ground has shifted under our athletes' feet. If they don't watch themselves now, they may find themselves falling off the edge of a cliff.
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Title Annotation:OPINION
Author:Araton, Harvey
Publication:New York Times Upfront
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 20, 2006
Previous Article:Helping kids like Abdul.
Next Article:'No one, not even the president, is above the law'.

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