It’s been a year to regret for famous sports figures. From Tiger Woods’ infidelity to Gilbert Arenas’ immaturity, billionaire ballers have been the top targets for open season public fire.
The criticism hasn’t been unwarranted however. Plaxico Burress shot his own self into a two-year prison term and Ben Roethlisberger’s ability to understand a 200 page-plus playbook takes a backseat to his apparent inability to comprehend the single word “no.” Drugs in every sport –whether it’s performance enhancers or social stimulators – continue to revolve around the sporting world and we’ll soon find out why former boxing champion Edwin Valero recently hung himself while sitting in jail on charges of murdering his wife. And did I mention Serena Williams has a foul mouth?
The life of a professional athlete is one that’s most admired and one that’s most scrutinized. We as fans often hold entertainers to a different degree of human righteousness, forgetting that they often moonlight as regular patrons outside of the boxed televisions we watch them on or the open arenas we cheer them in. So quick to hit the message boards we are to verbally annihilate them whenever they slip up but what makes a sports icon so different from a blue collar worker besides a few extra zeroes in the bank account?
Is the ability to knock down a contested three pointer that much difference than the ability to operate a Metro bus? Sure, one’s more entertaining than the other but which one is more important? Which one is a protestor more likely to lobby against in the face of infidelity or dog fighting charges? The professional that holds your life in their hands for a handful of minutes or the one that holds your attention for a few hours?
Would congress hold the same hearings over performance enhancing steroids to better operate busses as they do for operating baseball bats? Probably not. Maybe we just get a kick out of seeing someone who financially has everything we’ve ever asked for fall prey to the trappings of everyday life. I’ve seen known offenders without a leg to stand on poke and pun against higher salaried crime committers just because they assume money equals brilliance.
And that seems to be the general understanding; the more money you earn, the smarter your decisions must be, the smarter you must be and the straight and narrow you must walk. But just how ridiculous does that sound? Exhibit A makes $20 million a year while Exhibit B makes $20,000 annually. Exhibit A must go through life unscathed while it’s understandable for Exhibit B to incur mistakes based upon their opposing incomes?
Actually, the reverse reigns true for most because money still rules everything and the least you make of it, the cleaner your criminal record better be. If you can score, skate, run, jump and box in this world you’re going to be granted a different leisure from a person who can’t. It’s just that simple. But why do we place athletes on a superhuman pedestal for their ultra-athletic ability then ripped them down from it when we find out they’re only morally human?
Fans don’t gravitate towards athletes based upon their views on capitalism or their debt consolidation tactics but as the world turns the question remains. Will we continue to crucify athletes based upon the idea that we’re ethically better than them or the fact that they’re financially better than us? Jealousy and envy love company.