Recent developments in the world of sports has caused me to reflect on the past, present, and future of sports in this country. We all have our sports heroes, whether it was someone you idolized growing up as a kid or someone that you idolize now, they are there, larger than life, supernatural in your eyes, can do no wrong, are the cornerstone of your favorite team, the quarterback, the basketball star, baseball star, whatever they may do, they are the best at their specific sport and they are the reason you watch sports.
However, with recent events over the course of the last few months we have to look at these idols for what they are. Human beings with flaws, with questionable judgment, and with entitlement issues. Major League Baseball has handed down 13 suspensions to players that were found to be linked to a Florida Anti-aging clinic that is suspected of distributing steroids to these players, including Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees. the suspensions range from 50 games to, in Rodriguez’ case, over 200 games. A-Rod is appealing his suspension cause, in my mind, he is in denial and feels that because he is who he is and makes the money he does, that he is above the laws of MLB and is not subject to their rules regarding PED’s.
Then we have Johnny Manziel, the Texas A&M quarterback who has also bee in the spotlight lately. The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, it appears, has allowed his fame to go to his head, getting himself caught up in scandal after scandal regarding his behavior off the field. He has been in a few altercations off the field, usually involving alcohol, that has called into question not only his level of maturity, but his sanity. Now there are allegations that he has received money from autographs that he has signed at memorabilia shows in the offseason, calling into question his eligibility for continuing his career at A&M. As a collegiate football player he is not eligible to receive money for anything related to his playing for A&M, including salary, perks, or money in return for services or appearances, including autographs. He has shown the attitude that he is beyond reproach and that he can do pretty much whatever he wants to, since he has that little trophy on his mantle that was presented to him by the Downtown Athletic Club.
There is an old saying that says, with great power comes great responsibility, and that may be a corny line from a not-so-great movie, but it is in fact true for these individuals whether they believe it or want to follow it or not. They have been provided or have developed an extraordinary talent in their respective sport, and to abuse that talent or view it as a birthright is not only irresponsible, but it is a detriment to the game they represent. Maybe we should all take a fresh look at how we view these players and put this into perspective. Heroes are not sports figures, they haven’t completed heroic things, they haven’t saved a life, put themselves in harms way, cured a disease or done anything that is even close to being considered for “hero status”. You want to be my hero? Pull a family out of burning building, discover a cure for cancer, save your buddies lives on the battlefield, or for better reference, go into a 110 story tower to put out a fire knowing damn well that you will probably not come out of that thing alive.
Look, I love sports, I will continue to watch the games I love, and I will continue on rooting for the players on my favorite team to do well, to score touchdowns, make goals, and to score runs, but I will not place them up on a pedestal to give them “hero” stats in my life, they are not an inspiration to me, and they will not be beyond reproach with how they approach the game or how they act off the field. they are human beings, making millions of dollars to play a game, and until they perform CPR on a dying fan, or do an act of courage that warrants my respect, they will continue to be overpaid athletes that I enjoy watching for entertainment purposes. Sports is my release from the real world for a few hours each week, and that is all. So for all you want to be heroes out there, show me something, show me how humble you are, and show me that you have respect for not only the game you play and its history, but for yourself as well.