He’s No Role Model: Where Have the Sports Heroes Gone?

Tiger Woods is experiencing one of the biggest falls in popularity in all of sport’s history. Arguably the best golfer ever, Woods was thought of as a role model and hero to many. Now, his recent troubles have been made so public and so scandalous, that the creators of “South Park” have satirized his current predicament. However, this is not an isolated incident. Great sports figures have recently let down their fans in some amazing ways.

Sex scandals seem to be the popular downfall for athletes today. Big Ben Roethlisberger has really destroyed his name with two sexual assault claims in the last two years. Even though it looks like Big Ben might be innocent, his career will always be tarnished. Kobe Bryant was charged with rape and denied it, and then blamed Shaq for throwing the party in Denver that got him in trouble. I wonder why Kobe bought his wife that huge diamond ring after the fact; it couldn’t be to prove his innocence. Baseball has had huge problems with performing enhancing drugs, which have been linked to some of its biggest stars.

However, the decline or even lack of professional sports models has been occurring since the early 1900s. Jim Thorpe lost his Olympic titles for getting paid to play baseball. The 1919 Chicago White Sox threw the World Series for money. Babe Ruth was a boozer and a womanizer. Wilt Chamberlain claimed that he slept with over 20,000 different women. Joe Namath arguably started the trend of football players becoming celebrities and not just athletes. Wayne Gretzky was brought into some controversy when it was found out that his wife was possibly involved in an illegal gambling circle. Speaking of gambling, Michael Jordan was a compulsive gambler and Pete Rose bet on games he played and coached.

The point I’m trying to make is that almost every huge sport’s superstar in the last hundred years has had some run-in with the law, drug addiction, family issues, or something in between. Now, this does not go for everyone, and there are some morally sound athletes, guys like Albert Pujols and Derek Fisher. Athletes get the same urges we do — the difference is that what they do is magnified because they are in the media so much, and people make a living by exposing them to be frauds.

I love all sports and have a favorite team in almost every league and at every level. I just think people should look elsewhere for role models, in places other than the sports world. Look at teachers, political activists, and self-made success stories. The average man can do extraordinary things. Don’t put all your faith on one person.

It seems like athlete’s scandals are more entertaining than what that athlete does on the field. I think people are tired of just seeing athletes succeed and want to see them fail and come down to the average person’s level. The United States government has started to concern itself with athletes in a huge way. It is natural for us to want someone who is better than ourselves to fail. We are envious people. It is simply human nature at its best. The loss of the sports role model is due to the publicizing of athletes’ lives and people want them to fall to their level. Everyone screws up, but the difference between us and professional athletes is that their actions are made known to millions. There is no more privacy in this world.

I think we should give athletes a little more room to screw up, but also burn them at the cross when they overstep boundaries in a big-time way. Everyone deserves a second chance, but we invest so much in our athletes that they should take it upon themselves to do the right thing.