Kukla's Korner

Entries with the tag: theo fleury

What Tarnishes A Legacy?

A few weeks ago, I heard a debate on XM Home Ice regarding the Hall-of-Fame worthiness of Theo Fleury. The discussion didn’t involve his numbers per se, but rather whether or not his battle with addictions immediately disqualified him from such an honor. The hosts acknowledged that Fleury’s issues were tied into horrible childhood abuses, and he didn’t have the proper outlets for dealing with them. Nonetheless, they generally felt that the Hall of Fame was the type of honor that shouldn’t be bestowed on people who’ve given into their personal demons—even when the context of what caused them is somewhat understandable.

I found this debate in my head revived with this week’s revelation that tennis great Andre Agassi used crystal meth and covered it up during a time when his personal and professional life were spiraling downward. Suddenly, critics were coming out to say that his entire legacy was tarnished, some even saying they couldn’t look at Agassi the same way.

Me? I tried to look at Agassi the same way I look back at Fleury—they’ve made choices that they’re not proud of, but they’re honest about it and they’ve grown from it. They weren’t cheating during their performances, so why should it take away from Agassi’s Grand Slam wins or Fleury’s career goal totals? They’re human, and they made human mistakes in their personal lives. I don’t think that should be terribly shocking. Even if their actions violated a league/association policy, that’s a suspension and a fine at most, not a giant asterisk next to their career accomplishments.

I’m sure this point can be debated and picked apart from every possible angle, but I’m of the mindset that as long as the substances in question don’t enhance performance, then any sort of honor should be based strictly on the person’s career in the sport—not their personal demons. That’s why I view these situations as different compared to something like the Barry Bonds fiasco.

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