Professional athletes held at too high a standard
Published: Sunday, January 10, 2010
Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2012 02:06
Why do we hold athletes to a higher moral standard? You hear about it in the news almost every day: X athlete did Y wrong and how dare they!
There have been several high profile athletes that have been mercilessly scrutinized by the media and our own social groups. Tiger Woods is the most recent addition to the list of notorious athletes, as a short drive turned into a hole-in-one for 24-hour news sources.
Let me say that I do not condone any illegal action that athletes or non-athletes partake in. Still, I do not condone the amount of attention athletes receive when they do something wrong.
Where does this expectation of enhanced moral standards come from? Is it because we are bred to view these physical celebrities as role models and as such they should only act to the highest moral standard? What if they do not want to be role models?
Maybe I am being too vague.
Maybe I should contain my disdain to the immoral acts and not the illegal, as morality is as flexible as a gymnist. Illegal actions are a matter of public record, so maybe we should pour all of our attention and resources into the discovery of motives and the facts about the crime.
But what about the misdeeds done by athletes that are not illegal by rule of law but are "illegal" in view of society. For clarity, use this example: Michael Vick and his dog fighting ring — illegal; Tiger Woods' infidelity — immoral. Kobe Bryant, the Duke University Lacrosse team… let's not even go there.
The immorality of "celebreletes" (yeah, that just happened) should not be the focus of an immoral society. Still, this is easier said than done in a country that prides itself on religious freedom and free speech.
These cherished principles allow us to have freedoms that have advanced our culture in more positive ways than can be counted. It has also given rise to entities such as TMZ, whose sole purpose seems to be to tattle on anyone the camera catches in focus. I grew up under the notion that no one likes a tattletale. Perhaps I am old fashioned.
Are we to blame for their actions? We have deified most successful professional and collegiate athletes and athletic programs. We hold them as our champions and as such they are entitled to a portion of our crops and we must pay tribute to them on the fifth Tuesday of every month.
Images of wealth and fame beyond the dreams of avarice propel the ego of the athlete; and who can blame them? We buy Jordan's shoes and Peyton Manning's jersey because they are an extension of the people we are inundated with and have grown to love.
But keep this in mind: they are human beings; Exceptional human beings-sure, supremely gifted human beings-of course, entertaining as all get out-human beings. We have a very prominent athletic department here on campus with obscenely high-caliber talent. You see them on the bus, in class and on the field. They are people, just like us, so judge accordingly.