With the recent Indian doping scandal, the Kyrie Irving-"Miss Hawaii" harassment scandal and the arrest of Anthony Galea (Tiger Woods' former doctor) for steroids offenses filling up our sports headlines, I couldn’t help but remembering Charles Barkley’s famous words, “I am not a role model.”
Sir Charles was right. He's not a role model, and we sports fans need to stop thrusting these athletes into roles they didn’t ask for and can’t handle. We need to get on with our own lives and stop worrying about what these entertainers are doing with theirs.
Growing up, I worshiped athletes. Back then, most of them seemed to keep their noses clean.
That perception was false.
The only difference between athletes of yester-year and today is that back then athletes weren’t Tweeting their thoughts every time they had a bowel movement, and TMZ didn’t have a reporter camped out around the corner of every athlete’s home.
In today’s modern age, anything these people do is broadcast all over the world. Athletes, for the most part, are young and rich and have never been forced to grow up. Now, I’m not knocking them; I mean, I wish I had their life.
But I don’t.
And as a "regular person," I’ve made the conscious decision that I will not encourage my kid to idolize athletes and celebrities.
During the whole Tiger Woods' sex scandal, I heard a lot of stupidity being spewed on TV and a.m. talk radio. Commentators and callers were throwing out ridiculous statements like, “Tiger should be thrown out of golf. What am I supposed to tell my kid? He loves Tiger?” one radio caller asked.
The answer is easy. You tell your child, “Don’t idolize anyone. Respect and appreciate their talent, but know they are human and flawed.”
I hope to sit down on Sundays with my son to cheer on the Pittsburgh Steelers the same way my father and I enjoyed games together. However, I will make sure, from a very young age, that he doesn't worship the players. Respect and admire their talent, and let it end there.
His happiness will not be dependent on whether or not the Steelers win a game, and if his favorite Steeler gets popped for drugs, or Tweets a picture of his junk to some reporter, then my son may be disappointed, but that's as far as he'll take it.
He’ll understand that they aren’t to be worshiped.
Getting back to Tiger Woods, this week, in Los Angeles, a local radio personality was all over Tiger. Why is Tiger still taking criticism for the mistakes he made well over a year ago? Why does his sex life matter to golf fans? Tiger had an unquenchable lust for flesh (like most men). Instead of crucifying the man, maybe we should’ve instead used the scandal as a teachable moment.
As a married man, I’ve learned that they key to being in a relationship is not to beat temptation, but to avoid situations where you know you’ll find that temptation. There’s not a man alive who can resist, with 100 percent consistency, beautiful women approaching him and offering their bodies, day after day after day, with no strings attached. Man may resist one time, maybe a hundred times, but eventually, he will cave. This is why avoiding temptation is the only sure-fire method of beating it.
Athletes, actors, musicians, politicians and television evangelists are unable to avoid temptation. The nature of their job brings the temptation to their front door. Day after day after day, these men are approached by impossibly attractive women and offered no-strings-attached sex. Expecting them not to give in to temptation, once in awhile, is not realistic. We as a society need to stop acting shocked every two months when the latest athlete/politician/celebrity sex scandal comes out.
After the Tiger episode, the only thing I heard, for weeks, on SPORTS talk radio, was a bunch of grown men gossiping about Tiger’s affair. It’s pathetic! Why do other people care about this stuff?
If you care about Tiger’s personal affairs because you love Tiger, then I’ll assume you are family to him. If you aren’t family and you still care about the affairs of this celebrity’s life, then you need to reassess your own. Would Tiger Woods lose one minute of sleep if you were caught in a sex-scandal? No. If you were abducted by aliens from the planet Zoltar, and impregnated against your will, would Tiger give a hoot? No.
Athletes aren’t your friends, and they shouldn’t be your role models. Stop acting as if they are.
We're spoon fed a new drug or sex scandal every few months or so. The list of offenders is endless: Kobe, Tiger, Mike Tyson, Barry Bonds, Lance Armstrong and on and on. I mean, we’re talking about the best of the best. We should be used to this by now. Still, every time we get a new one, people get more bent out of shape than when hearing about real world problems such as the genocide in Darfur, mistreatment of women in the Middle East or sweatshops in China.
That is simply wrong.
I long for us to return to a time when we admired our favorite athletes from afar. As a society, we need to agree to live and let live, and stop monitoring the personal lives of athletes.
It's none of our business.
However, if you can’t live without your Twitter or you daily scoop of TMZ, then please stop acting so outraged and surprised when you find out your favorite athlete likes to wear three inch pumps and troll for transvestite hookers on Saturday nights.
They’re just people, people.