Back in the day professional athletes were model citizens. They alway seem to set the good example for the youth to look up too. You ask your average kid in 50's and 60's who their heroes and they'd answer with Willie Mays, Johnny Unitas, Wilt Chamberlain or Muhammad Ali. Now granted the above mentioned were perfect in public and who knows what was behind the scenes. Their heroics on and off the field have cemented their place in history despite what may or may not have happened behind the scenes.
Now here we are at the start of the second decade of the 21st Century and hy have the times changed leading up too it. Pete Rose for example. He was looked up too by so many people in his day as a player. When he became player-manager it really went down the tubes for him for he was busted and banned from the league permanently for betting on baseball. This is a cardinal sin in any sport despite the fact that he bet on his Cincinnati Reds to win ever night. It doesn't matter he broke the rule and now he is suffering a lifetime of ineligibility. This is a minor infraction compared to what was to hit any sport in the next 20 years.
Dateline 1998 MLB Season. Sufforing from strike that killed the postseasonA pair of powerful hitters that were gunning for one thing and one thing only. The single season Home Run Record by Roger Maris. In the end they reinvigorated baseball.
On September 8, 1998 the Cardinals hosted the Cubs. I was at home with my dad watching what would be an historic home run. Then McGwire comes to the plate with Trachsel on the mound. McGwire crushed number 62 at 8:18pm EST. My dad and the rest of the world went nuts and in the celebration McGwire honored the Maris family who was in attendance that night. For me it was an outstanding moment to share with my father. Three years later Barry Bonds of the San Fransisco Giants would not only break the single season record but the career record of Hank Aaron at 37 years old. What does age have to do with this???? Well your average professional baseball player usually is retiring or at least with the help of age his abilities diminish. Even then I knew the man was injecting HGH or Steroids.
Alex Rodriquez would soon to admit the use of it and Manny Ramirez would be suspended for it. It wasn't just a baseball thing either drug use was everywhere. Lyle Alzado who played in the NFL would die from the health issues as a result of steroid use at 42. Chris Beniot a WWE Wrestler would go on a roid-rage and massacre him and his family. Its not just steroids.
Lawrence Taylor tested positive for cocaine use in the 1987. Michael Irvin was arrested for possession of cocaine in 1996. There were countless others too. It wasn't just the drug use either. Controversy followed the stars around like a bad plague. The idea of positive press for these scandals seems to have fallen by the weigh-side. Tiger Woods was hammered by the Tabloid media until the truth came out of his skirt chasing infidelities.
The problem with all of this infamous history is that despite their bad decisions the media like ESPN keeps on glorying the cheats, the drug users and skirt chasers. Alex Rodriquez is still a golden boy as is Manny Ramirez. Barry Bonds is awaiting trail for perjury in his testimony to the grand jury over the BALCO case.
The one guy that has confessed and asked for our forgiveness is Mark McGwire and for a while it was do to a Big Mac week. He suffered severely at the hands of the media and Roidriquez doesn't even get a second look. Michael Irvin and Lawrence Taylor both snorted their way in to the hall of fame. Alleged evidence of Enhancers has popped up on Roger Clemens whom along with Barry Bonds is eligible for the Hall of Fame soon.
Having Sports Heroes is what inspires the next generation to become sports athletes. Some have called the New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter the beacon of hope in this post steroids era of baseball. Personally I' have to be very skeptical of this because of the New York attitude of winning at all costs. I would rather call St Louis Cardinals Albert Pujols who is a hero soon to be legend on and off the field that beacon of hope.
I can say one thing I wouldn't want my daughter or any other kids looking up to anyone else except Pujols, Drew Brees, Kurt Warner, Derek Jeter, Joe Mauer and Payton Manning. Heroes do not DO NOT cheat their way to top with scandal. In all sports we need to return to an area of accountability of Kenesaw Mountain Landis who didn't hesitate to ban the 8 men who threw the 1919 World Series. We have to hold hire standards for everyone now more then ever.