Is The Paprazzi Ruining Professional Sports?

John HarrisContributor IJuly 6, 2009

It has been emotionally tough, the past couple weeks, for most followers of mainstream American pop-culture, regardless of age, race, sex, or religion. We have seen the passing of three cultural icons in Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and most notably Michael Jackson (who actually died only hours after Fawcett).

If that was not enough, in the sports world, all fans of the NFL were surely shocked to hear of the shooting death of former Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Steve McNair on the 4th of July.

All of these people affected our lives in one way or another. Regardless of what personal opinions we all may hold on each of these individuals, it is important at these times to remember one thing: These are still human beings.

Most of us live "typical" lives.

We go to regular jobs, for regular pay, and we glance at the price tags as we shop for regular items. However, that's not really the case for those in the public eye, is it?

Obviously, the stress of celebrity life is much greater for some than it is for others, but all of these events are undoubtedly subject to the "human condition." As Arnold, Willis, and Mr. Drummond taught us; "the world don't move to the beat of just one drum, what might be right for you, may not be right for some."

It certainly does take different strokes, to move the world.

However, one thing that seems to never change, is our unbeliveable need to feed off the people we try to emulate. We all have a special place in our hearts for the athletes and artists who touch our heart. They fill a void we have from being a part of the "typical" lifestyle. To some degree, that is healthy, but when we take it too far it can be destructive not only to your own personal well-being, but to the very well-being of the celebrity you have become obsessed with.

By now, you've read all this, and some of you are asking, "What does the paparazzi have to do with this?"

Well, I think the answer is obvious. Celebrities are being bombarded constantly by a crazy barrage of cameramen and reporters. It's nothing new, but it has grown to such a ridiculous proportion that I feel it truly does need to be addressed.

The kind of intense pressure that has put on our celebrities is something that not only effects how we view them, but also how they act. Many of the tabloids, and random bloggers will actually make up stories and try to pass them off as fact, just to get you to buy their magazine, or click their link.

Let it be known, I am not making up a story, just stating an opinion. People are free to read my input and formulate their own opinions. I don't claim to be the "be all, end all." I just have something to say, like the rest of the 6.7 billion people on our beautiful planet.

I think it's clear that professional athletes are not as affected by the paparazzi as our entertainers, and political figures are. However, I think there is three reasons for that, and all are part of the "human condition."

For one, the "sports journalists," have the sports area locked down, and the paparazzi just don't get the same access. Although, there are definitely some less that honest "sports journalists," we won't go into that topic at this time.

Secondly, it could be partly because athletes tend to represent an entire area. It takes a lot for a city to turn on a star athlete. For some fans, there is a mentality of, "I don't care what he does as long as our team wins."

Lastly, when a crazy paparazzi cameraman is hiding in the bushes, or standing outside a restaurant trying to get a picture, it's my personal opinion that those photographers feel more threatened by professional athletes, and for good reason. Many of these people are very popular, but still not at the level of Michael Jackson, at least in the realm of paparazzi stature.

Jackson, could not leave his home without an entourage of people and security guards. That was going on since he was 8-years-old, and playing with the Jackson Five. He was getting quarter-million dollar checks when he was 11-years-old.  Even our biggest athletes have not had to deal with that type of public scrutiny. 

However, in the last 100 years, we have seen our games turned into giant marketing schemes. In many ways, that is great. Both for the sports themselves, and especially for the athletes. The innocent games we played as children, have become big business as adults.

Of course, I am only 27-years-old. This goes back way before my time, but in light of recent events, it's hard not to speculate on the growing amount of sensationalism attached to our celebrities. I think the stress that comes with playing in a major league, especially in a big market city, like New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago, directly contributes to the way contracts are negotiated, and to the way money is spent.

Is that wrong?

No, not always, and I do understand the business of sports. The real question I am posing is, "How do you feel the sensationalism of the media has affected professional sports in your lifetime?"