Sports Magazine

Black n' Gold Blitz : For Me, Professional Athletes Continue to Disappoint

By Kipper @pghsportsforum
For me, this article has been a long time coming. I have been accumulating information for this article for years now and just keeping them logged in my mind until the time was right for me to put it all together. Now is the time. As you can tell by the title of my article, this is not a new topic by any stretch of the imagination. No, it is unfortunately one that is all too real and all too common. In a world that idolizes their professional sport stars, these professional athletes have continually let us, the fans, down time and time again. Are we too dumb to realize it, or too obsessed to care? Thats a completely different article, but its sad when you think about how very few professional athletes hold themselves to a standard that is maybe even the same standard that I hold my High School athletes. Let me explain why this is something that has bothered me for a long time.
I grew up, as most sports fans have, looking up to my favorite athletes. Whether it was Barry Foster of the Steelers, Andy Van Slyke of the Pirates, or Mario Lemieux of the Penguins, these guys were people I wanted to be. I wanted to do the same fist pump when I scored a hockey goal that Mario did, I wanted to swing the bat just like Andy Van Slyke (except right handed), and to this day never wear batting gloves because #18 for the Pirates never wore them. Looking back now, I wanted to be these guys for what they did in their respective sports, nothing more, nothing less. You rarely heard about multi-million dollar contracts. You rarely heard about athletes acting foolish in public. You rarely heard about athletes in court. I tried to swing a bat and play baseball like Andy Van Slyke because he was a hustler, a gritty player, and a guy that just seemed to enjoy the game. Not because he made millions playing a game. I enjoyed watching all of these guys just because I also (still do) wish that playing a game could be my job.
With this being said, where professional athletes turned South is beyond me. Let me take this time to apologize for throwing a blanket statement like this out there. Not all professional athletes in today's sports world are disappointments. Some of the more uplifting characters in today's sports scene reside in Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. Lets be honest, people rarely talk about the good in today's society, and its the same in the sports world too. I, for one, am sick of the disappointments that continue to abound amongst professional athletes across the country. I remember the first time I was disappointed when a professional athlete I rooted for did something wrong. Technically, he wasn't with the Steelers at the time, but when Bam Morris was caught in his drug situation...I was disappointed. I watched #33 run the Steelers to Superbowl 30, and now he was behind bars. His mug shot on all of the Pittsburgh media outlets. It just seemed from there things got worse. Athletes were given more money, and with that fame and fortune players have consistently fumbled the responsibility of being a role model. Let me give you some examples.
I read all of the articles about the Pittsburgh sport teams, and I still cannot get through my head how some articles read "...this player reported to camp in the best shape of his life. Saying he really dedicated himself to getting in shape this offseason." Are you kidding me? If playing football is your JOB, how do you do nothing to improve yourself so you can do your job better? That would be like a nurse only switching half of the IVs that she was supposed to, but the day that she changed all of them she gets applauded for DOING HER JOB! The NFL of the 60s and 70s, players had to get part time jobs in the offseason. Now, playing football (and all major sports) is their full time gig. If you ask me, if a player reported to camp out of shape for ANY sport, I'd tell them they can find a job somewhere else. You have MLB players repeatedly getting caught with Performance Enhancing Drugs and cheating the game. You have NFL players killing humans while driving a vehicle drunk. I could go on and on...and on...and on...and on.

Unlike when I was a kid, these young adults of America look up to these athletes in a different way. They aren't just emulating a batting stance, they want the fame, the cars, the fortune that all accompanies the spotlight of professional sports. How do I know this, I am a school teacher and hear what these young kids are saying day in, and day out. The problem is, that its not the kids' fault, but the professional athletes that are continually letting these kids down. To see the faces of the students in my classes that are Steelers fans when Ben Roethlisberger was accused of rape TWICE. To hear kids ask me about Mike Adams being stabbed and saying "Why would you be out at 3am anyways?!" These young kids look up to these athletes that repeatedly find themselves in handcuffs, in prison, using drugs, womanizing, or driving while intoxicated....just to name a few.
I have 3 young kids at home, and I have to be honest, I hope my kids don't look up to athletes like I did. If my son or two daughters have a favorite player...thats fine...I still have favorite players. However, I will be sure to tell them that it stops at just having a favorite player. These players are human, and they make mistakes...but some of these players would be in prison if it weren't for their superior skill at a particular athletic endeavor. I realize that alot of these issues with athletes have been around long before me...but today's media spotlight shines so much brighter than the days of Mickey Mantle running around NY City drinking and womanizing. Instead of my kids looking up to athletes, I'll hope they look up to people who won't let them down on a regular basis and disappoint them...because for me, athletes do nothing but continue to disappoint me on a regular basis.

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