Who's Right? Who's Wrong? Who's The Judge?

stephen rileyCorrespondent IMay 22, 2010

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 05:  Tiger Woods looks on as he addresses members of the media during a press conference prior to the 2010 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2010 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett-Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images

It’s been a year to regret for famous sports figures. From Tiger Woods’ infidelity to Gilbert Arenas’ immaturity, superstar athletes have been the top targets for open season public fire.

The criticism hasn’t been unwarranted however. Plaxico Burress literally shot himself into a two-year prison term and Ben Roethlisberger’s ability to understand a 200 plus-page 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 hang around the sporting world like smog in an industrialized city. Soon, we’ll find out why former boxing champion Edwin Valero hung himself while sitting in jail on charges of murdering his wife. And what in the world was Lawrence Taylor thinking?

The life of a professional athlete is one that’s most admired yet also, one that’s most scrutinized. We 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. With the slightest slipup, message boards buzz with written annihilation.

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 protester more likely to lobby against in the face of infidelity or dog fighting charges? The professional that holds your life in his/her 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 being induced to better operate buses as they do for operating baseball bats? Probably not.

Maybe we just get a kick out of seeing someone who has everything we’ve ever asked for financially fall prey to the trappings of everyday life.

And that seems to be the general understanding, right? The more money you earn, the smarter your decisions must be.

But how ridiculous is that? Exhibit A makes $20 million a year, while Exhibit B makes $20,000 annually. Exhibit A gets a free pass, skipping through life unscathed, while it’s understandable for Exhibit B to run up the rap sheet based upon their opposing incomes?

Actually, the reverse reigns true for most because money still rules everything and the less you earn, the cleaner your criminal record better be. If you can score, skate, run, swim, jump or box in this world you’re going to be granted a different leisure in life than a person who can’t. It’s just that simple.

Fans don’t gravitate towards athletes based upon their views on capitalism or their debt consolidation tactics, so why bury them for being ordinary people?

Are we going to continue crucifying athletes based upon the idea that we’re ethically better than the are or the fact that they’re just financially better than us?

Hey, jealousy and envy love company.