Stop idolizing athletes

2 12 2009

Face it, our society’s idolization of athletes is pretty ridiculous. Maybe Charles Barkley had it right all along when he famously said that he’s not a role model for children.

In the last couple months, we’ve seen Michael Jordan act like an unappreciative, cold-hearted jackass during his Hall of Fame induction speech, and Tiger Woods become bombarded with alleged affairs with a multitude of women. Two men who are truly transcendent athletes with images sculpted by the smartest people in the sports marketing industry still aren’t immune to revealing their personality flaws in this hyperactive information age. Which just goes to show us sports fans that the only way we can truly enjoy athletes’ achievements is to concentrate on what they do on the field, court, pitch or rink.

People who’ve become familiar with my admiration for Kobe Bryant have asked me how I could cheer for a guy who was accused of rape and, in some people’s eyes, admitted his guilt by settling with his accuser in a civil suit. I always respond by saying that I root for Kobe Bryant the NBA player and not Kobe Bryant the person. I don’t care if he’s an a-hole and a wife cheater. I only care that he’s an incredible basketball player who’s won four championships on my favorite sports team.

By simplifying what I expect from an athlete, I’m able to appreciate why they matter to me. They’re here for our athletic enjoyment and our entertainment. They have exceptional physical (running, jumping) and psychological (concentration, desire) abilities that you or I simply don’t possess.

What they lack is particularly sound judgment away from their athletic arena. They act like prima donnas, they thoughtlessly throw away money and they’ll occasionally cheat on their wives. They seem like dumbasses and arrogant fools at times, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise. The same selfish and ruthless mindset they display away from the playing field or court is often exactly why they’re so damn good at what they do.

If sports fans learned to just appreciate athletes strictly for their athletic accomplishments and weren’t so tempted to pretend like these guys are the most chivalrous lot of human beings on Earth, then they wouldn’t be so flabbergasted when even an apparent saint like Tiger Woods is accused of cheating on his wife and the mother of his two kids.

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4 responses

2 12 2009
Chris

I agree, and really, we could expand this to include everyone. If people stopped lying to themselves about how perfect they think they are, and stopped trying to act like they’re perfect to everyone else, the world would be a lot easier place to live in.

For example, I wonder – how many of these sports writers who are bashing Tiger have cheated on their wives or significant others?

The lesson is no one is perfect, not athletes, and certainly not ourselves – so the judging gets us nowhere.

2 12 2009
Chris

I am fucking deep today bro.

2 12 2009
kylestackblog

You must have done some deep thinking while you were killing the bench press this morning.

2 12 2009
Jeff

couldn’t agree more, but for most fans this is a really difficult thing to separate. a big part of tiger’s aura — aside from dominating his sport, physical/athletic talent, marketing genius, and the charity work he does with his foundation — was that he seem so calm, cool, collected and mild-mannered with a beautiful wife and 2 children off the course. certainly doesn’t diminish his achievements and the many more he’ll have, but these incidents are inherent of how the casual fan will judge him.

send me the mets AM article when it prints

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