While most sports fans admire the most powerful of players, some of us admire the ones that played the hardest, and not the strongest. The ones that talked on the field, and stayed out of trouble off of it.
It doesn't matter if you are watching baseball, basketball, or football. Sorry, I left out other sports, but I am not near educated enough in any others to write about them. You have the natural talents and then the ones that worked hard to get there. These are the players that you can tell "love" the game and do everything they can to better their careers.
Watching sports in the Y2K era has become much like daytime drama.
ARod and Madonna, Jeter and her, and her, and her. Michael Jordan, Shaq, and ARod have all gotten/getting divorced. Why the hell do we care? I could care less if ARod was sleeping around. He has nothing to do with my life, your life, or 99% of the media's audience. The same goes with the other two, Jordan and O'Neal and any other star athlete.
The media complains about the lack of "mentors" in todays sports. Well, quite frankly, I blame the media. I don't know if anyone remembers, but Bill Clinton got, well you know, in the oval office.
Yet, its our sports figures that get blamed for societies youth and the way they act. I am in no way forgetting the blame that video games, music and movies are attributed.
It is true, we as kids look up to athletes more than anyone else. There is a reason we used to act like we were Michael Jordan, Mark McGwire or Jerry Rice when we were playing sports. I don't remember any of my friends saying, I am Tom Cruise, or Tommy Lee.
It was because of what athletes represented. They weren't like rockstars or actors, they were heroes. Yet, in the Y2K era, all we hear about is what is wrong with sports. Steroids, adultery, DUI's and perjury.
To be honest, it is something we will have to get used to. We don't have the Stockton's, Ripken Jr.'s, and Elway's that we grew up idolizing. A good portion of our stars have had some sort of slip up at some point. If America wants its true idols back, we have to quit passing useless info onto our youth.
I am a Chicago fan, but I have always respected the athletes that played the game right, on and off the field. In the past we had greats like Cal Ripken Jr., Tony Gwynn, John Stockton, Larry Bird, John Elway, and Barry Sanders.
Though not as many, there are still a few today: Albert Pujols, Bret Favre (until the drama of '08), and...Steve Nash, it took me a minute to think of an NBA player.
We need more of these guys. Guys that the media can't dig up dirt about, and even if they do, their character helps us forget.
Until magic genies are more than a fairy tale, I think we will hear more negative than positive. That's the mind-frame that today's media is in.