Athletes Are Entertainers, Leave The Personal Problems Out of The Headlines

Boris GodzinevskiCorrespondent IIApril 15, 2010

MIAMI - JANUARY 03:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass to wide receiver Mike Wallace #17 in the second quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Land Shark Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

Not enough people these days appreciate or understand the simplicities in life we take for granted.

For instance, wasting litres upon litres of water in the shower fit for drinking that without you would die. Or throwing soda cans in parks, where a child could step on and cut their foot. Most people forget these simplicities, and the one that bothers me most recently is the assumption that professional athletes are to be model darlings fit for God's highchair.

Professional sport is entertainment, it is also good exercise for us regular joes, but for the men and women who are paid millions to play a game, it is almost an art form. Not every individual can slam dunk on a whim, or hit a home run every 10 at bats. No, these people are indeed special, talented, and hard working individuals. call it what you will, they can do what most can only dream of, and for that they are paid their money.

The biggest reason sports stars make so much more money now than say, fifty years ago, is because of marketing and advanced media outlets.

Fifty years ago, not everyone had a television. The televisions themselves were often smaller, and the resolution was not so great. You would have to settle for one or two camera angles. Because of this and other factors, player salaries were either on par or below that of the average, and because of that fact, there were far less people willing to sacrifice years to become a great athlete. Many college sports stars went on to have careers unrelated to sport. Some would not have made the professional leagues in the first place, but some just didn't see it as lucrative as it is now.

Now the world has changed, and becoming a media celebrity, for many, results in a big payday, maybe not forever, but for at least a time. For the most coveted players, every aspect of their abilities or lack there of, is scrutinized or praised. However, they are still entertainers.

They get paid because we, the audience, care. We care perhaps more than ever before, and because of that obsession we seem to have come to the point where it is no longer the athlete we look at, but the person.

This is one horrible and sad fact.

An athlete, believe it or not, is a working man like the rest of us. He has responsibilities, and he is expected to perform his job like anyone else. When he is finished for the day, he may go out for some coffee, or he may go for drinks with friends. He may go to the park, go to the movies, or go to a sports gameperhaps a sport he does not play. Yet we, the audience, follow him. For some odd reason when a player leaves his job, his job does not leave him, it is associated with who he is.

I dare say this would be called unfair by many people. Would the average construction worker mind being told to redesign his friend's room, or would an office secretary mind if her boyfriend asked her to take his incoming house calls?

Maybe not, but I don't feel the need to elaborate my examples. The fact of the matter is that I wouldn't question my lawyer on his spending habits on a trip to Thailand just like I wouldn't criticize my favorite baseball player's taste in movies and correlate that to his hitting average.

Yet this is the problem that has arisen in the NFL the past several seasons.

Perhaps it is just the United States, but I would say it is a worldwide pandemic. Michael Vick breaking animal rights laws does not immediately affect his scrambling ability, and unproven accusations of Ben Roethlisberger committing sexual assault will not directly affect his ability to throw a tight spiral.

Yet the fans and media seem to think so.

And for the love of all that is holy, Tiger Woods cheating on his wife with numerous women is not news. It is an interesting tidbit I could have lived on without knowing about.

Maybe if my favorite player is accused of selling cocaine to a child I will not want to set up a playdate with his kids and my future sons and daughters, but that will not in the least stop me from watching him do what he is paid to do, entertain me, and entertain he will.