As published in The County Times (countytimes.somd.com)
By Ronald N. Guy Jr.
Remember when humans made telemarketing calls? The next-level annoyance of the computer
voice on the other end of those calls now makes one nostalgic for the uninvited,
person-to-person contact of yesteryear.
Or what about when phones couldn’t suggest finishing words to text
messages? Or when homes lacked voice-commanded
doohickies that could change the television channel or settle a trivia argument
with a spouse? How about stubborn
automated phone trees for everything from a doctor’s office to a credit
card? Good luck circumventing these tangled
systems to reach a live human. And remember
to listen to the message in its duration because “Our menu options have recently
changed.” Being lost in a corn maze has
nothing on the hopelessness of a phone maze.
As for the writing craft, I do wonder what the future
holds. Perhaps it is time for a
disclaimer to accompany this column: every single word you are reading was
generated by a human (me). No ChatGPT
here, my friends. Never. Ever.
Professional integrity aside, artificial intelligence
has arrived, and it promises unreconcilable change: a mind-scrambling
coexistence of fantastic improvements, random frustrations, amazement (how far
we’ve come) and fear (too far?). As
George Will once said, “The future has a way of arriving unannounced.” And here we are.
Sports remain largely an analog-based respite from
technology. Sure, much has changed – how
games are played, in-game communications, advanced statistics, athletic and
orthopedic improvements, and the consumption experience (high-definition
television, high tech stadiums, go anywhere viewing on handheld devices) – but
sports are still about getting the better of the opponent on an individual or
team level. Did the ball go in the
basket? Was the puck buried in the
net? Was the ball barreled up at it
crossed the plate? The scoreboard is
final judge and jury. It is raw,
unpredictable and fantastic.
At the heart of sports’ allure is the sanctity of the
competition itself – that unequivocable belief in the authenticity of the
combatants’ struggle. Without that,
sports dissolves into nothing more than a charade. The Big Lie, to steal from today’s toxic
political parlance. Something far worse
than professional wrestling, fake reality television and faux live music
It would be nice to report that such violations of
trust never happen. Nice just left the
building, though, if it ever was present to begin with. As with most things involving our species,
the lure of fame, fortune, legacy and power has, on a few occasions, caused the
integrity of sports to be recklessly peddled.
Quickly scan any moment in history and this is clear: hubris and greed are
A few of the 1919 Chicago White Sox (Black Sox
scandal) sought a pay day. The New
England Patriots (Spygate), the steroid users of the late 1990s/early 2000s and
the 2017-ish Houston Astros (sign stealing) sought a competitive
advantage. Who knows what Pete Rose
(betting on baseball) was thinking. The
famous are now infamous. All wear a
scarlet letter, their legacies graced with a well-earned asterisk.
Unfortunately, that dubious fraternity may have another
The University of Michigan football team, a speed bump
on Ohio State’s path to the Big Ten crown no more, is now the conference’s
elite team and squarely in the national title conversation. With head coach Jim Harbaugh already under
NCAA investigation and fresh off a self-imposed three-game suspension, the
compliance hawks have returned to Ann Arbor amidst allegations of illegal sign
stealing. Pulling from a familiar damage
control playbook, Harbaugh has denied any knowledge and a lower-level staffer has
been suspended. That we’re left to trust
the NCAA, not exactly a bastion of business ethics, to deliver justice only intensifies
the stench of this situation.
Beside holding our noses, where does that leave sports fans? Simply to digest another alleged episode of remarkable arrogance. What was the impact of Michigan’s willful disrespect for competitive integrity? Like the Astros and Spygate, there was certainly some. So much for sports being a safe space from artificial intelligence. In a traditional sense, it is; but when it comes to nefarious information gathering, humans can be as troubling as the machines they create.