Sunday, September 30, 2007


After Barry Bonds hit his 756th career home run on August 7, breaking Hank Aaron's long-held record, few of my readers took a clear stand on whether they would vote to keep Bonds out of the Hall of Fame based on the allegations of steroid use that have dogged him.

One of the few to take a strong stand was Patrick Burris of Charlotte, N.C., who is unequivocal in his belief that Bonds should be treated as innocent until proven guilty. Unless his guilt is proven, Burris writes, Bonds should be allowed to enjoy everything associated with his home-run milestone.

All the same, however, Burris believes that Commissioner Bud Selig was within his rights to decide not to attend the game at which Bonds hit the home run.

"If Selig is making a statement," Burris writes, "so be it."

He adds that sportswriters are also entitled to their opinions, and it is they who will decide Bonds' entry to or rejection from the Hall of Fame, whether or not he is further implicated in the steroid scandal.

Check out other opinions at SOUND OFF: FOUL ON BONDS, or post your own by clicking on "comments" or "post a comment" below.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business (Smith Kerr, 2006), is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of The Right Thing, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to or to "The Right Thing," The New York Times Syndicate, 500 Seventh Avenue, 8th floor, New York, NY 10018. Please remember to tell me who you are, where you're from, as well as where you read the column.

c.2007 The New York Times Syndicate (Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate)


Steve H said...

I'm continually amazed at people who don't understand that "innocent until proven guilty" is a legal and not a moral or ethical concept. Yes, Bonds is legally innocent of any crime. As a result, he's not in jail. But, the drug he's reported to have taken doesn't show up on any current drug screens, so he can never be found guilty of a crime. So, does that give him the right to play baseball, and have records associated with his name?

I don't think so. Playing a professional sport is a privilege, not a right. And, when Mr. Bonds took enough steroids to start looking like an African-American version of the Michelin Man, I think he should have lost that privilege. On ethical grounds. Not legal grounds.

Anonymous said...

Patrick Burress is wrong. He assumes that individuals are incapable of evaluating public figures and reaching valid conclusions. His stand that Barry Bonds is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law requires one to believe the same about OJ Simpson. Moreover, Mr. Simpson was tried and found not guilty while MLB baseball, for whatever self-serving reason, has chosen not to investigate allegations against Mr. Bonds. I disagree with the Simpson verdict based on my understanding of the known facts in the case. For the same reason I believe Bonds' records are tainted despite the lack of jurisdictional conviction.

Anthony Sogg