People can argue that sport is not important, that it is something that wastes time, money and energy that could be better spent elsewhere. However, for billions of people around the world it is their religion, more important than almost anything else in the world.
It is why we can almost universally condemn the investment bankers who get paid a fraction of sportspeople, yet the wages of Wayne Rooney (£300,000 per week) are more an object of jealousy than outright anger. However, with the huge rewards comes huge responsibilities, and this issue looks at two ways in which athletes have duties above and beyond simply playing or winning at their sport.
In this issue, one of the key themes is the importance of athlete behaviour to the millions of fans around the world, to the image of the people who pay them so handsomely and to the very sport in which they compete. We have seen how the actions of people like Lance Armstrong, Maria Sharapova and Tiger Woods have had a significant impact on the world further than just their own relationships.
Each, in their own right, deserves the stigma that has been given to them, but the true impact of their actions is on the future of their sport and the ways in which the media report on it. In each scandal, the media - especially tabloid media - have hounded athletes relentlessly, creating a circus around the personal lives of athletes and calling the validity of strong performances into question.
Athletes have a duty, not just to their fans and teams but to the future of their sports. Those who overlook this duty deserve our scorn, but we need to make sure that we aren’t trying to tar everybody with their tainted brush.
This issue looks at some of these issues, from the reasons behind sponsors dropping their athletes through to the way that doping undermines every performance following its discovery. As the capabilities of technology and new training techniques improve, as they have done over the past 5 years, we should see performances above and beyond what we expect. After all isn’t that the reason that billions of people watch sport in the first place?