Posts Tagged ‘Tiger Woods’

Fallen Idols

In Family, Life Lessons on April 19, 2010 at 8:50 am

Kids today have so many things that I never did, and yet I still wish that my children could experience life the way that I did as a child.  Change is inevitable, but it isn’t always good.  And though I have become just as dependent on modern technology as the younger generations, I still have a great appreciation of what life was like before the instant gratification mindset penetrated our society.  So, while I may bemoan the fact that kids today seem to be tethered to some sort of electronic device at all times, I understand that it is just the way that life is nowadays.

Despite all of the technological progress that has been made since I was a kid, things aren’t necessarily better for kids today.  They have to concern themselves with things that never entered into my mind when I was young.  Aside from obvious things like terrorism, there are more subtle threats like online predators.  Although I was told not to talk to strangers as a kid, the reality is that I was pretty sheltered from most crime living in a Long Island suburb (aside from our home being broken into one time).  I can’t recall being exposed to any of the heinous crimes against children that litter the news on a daily basis.  I’m sure it existed, but I only paid attention to sports news.  But even that is no longer a safe haven.

Sports news today is as much about the bad things that famous athletes are doing as it is about recaps of games and statistics.

Money has changed things.  Athletes always made a decent living in comparison to most people, but today’s salaries border on obscene.  With the endorsement money that many athletes make on top of their salaries, they are in a financial stratosphere that most people will never reach.  In my opinion, this creates problems.  Most athletes are ill-equipped to deal with their newfound wealth.  They spend money as if it is going to last forever, even though their careers span a fairly short time period of their life.  And many athletes live their life as if they are above the law.

It is sad to say, but the most memorable sports stories in recent years revolve around athletes committing shameful acts of varying degrees…from Tiger Woods’ cheating scandal, to the murders committed by O.J. Simpson and everything in between.  There is no way to tell when one of the “good guys” is going to do something bad, and thus, athletes can no longer be idolized by children unconditionally, and certainly can’t be counted on as role models.

Who would have thought that a young quarterback, a rising star of a storied franchise, would be in the news for sexually attacking women?  If not for slipshod police work, a lot of money and the fame that comes with being an NFL quarterback, it is quite likely that Ben Roethlisberger would be spending time behind bars rather than waiting to see how long his suspension will last.  As the father of a daughter, I am sickened by him.

Sadly, Roethlisberger is just one of many athletes who have tainted the world of professional sports.  Donte Stallworth received a 30-day sentence for killing someone while driving drunk (the sentence was eventually reduced to 24 days).  Leonard Little received a 60-day sentence for committing the exact same crime (in addition to 1000 hours of community service).  Six years after the involuntary manslaughter charge was wiped from Little’s record, he was arrested again for drunk driving.  Rae Carruth is a name that I will only remember because he is in jail for conspiring to kill his girlfriend (who was 8-months pregnant with his child at the time).  And the list of deplorable athletes goes on and on…too many to mention in the context of this post.

I wish that my son was able to idolize his favorite athletes unconditionally, but he can’t.  He will never have the luxury that I had as a kid.  This is not to say that every athlete was a choirboy while I was growing up, but they somehow managed to avoid committing heinous crimes.  Perhaps it is just my perspective, but it seems to me that athletes played for the love of the game when I was a kid, whereas many athletes today play for the love of money.

Although there are a number of professional athletes who do great things, those stories don’t make for good headlines.  The truth of the matter is that the majority of professional athletes will never step outside the law, or be in the news for some kind of cheating scandal.  Since there is no way to tell who is going to commit bad acts, or when it will happen, the proverbial well has been poisoned for all professional athletes.

In retrospect, it was probably never fair for professional athletes to be role models in the first place.  It is up to parents to be good role models for our children.  To a lesser degree, the burden also falls on teachers, coaches and anyone else that has an active role in shaping the minds of our children.  Regretfully, we cannot shield our children from all of the harm that exists in today’s world.  I just wish that the shield didn’t have to extend into the world of professional sports.

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