Thursday, April 22, 2010

"You're My Hero!"

This is one of my options to submit for the columnist job at the Stater.  So, let me know what you think.  But I think I'm going to write something different, having to do with women in college who just want to get married.  It's something I'm more passionate about than this, so it might make for a better submission.  I've also considered taking one of my existing blogs and adapting it, but I'm not sure yet.  Anyway, here's option 1:

Sports stars are called many things these days, but too often, they are called heroes. What have these athletes done to warrant the title of hero? The same title given to soldiers who risk their lives in war to protect their people and secure their country. The same title given to police officers who risk their lives daily to secure the safety of their precinct. The same title given to firefighters such as those who fought to rescue the survivors of 9/11 and battled with true bravery the fires that consumed the World Trade Centers. 

But athletes play games for a living: throwing, passing, kicking, catching balls for ridiculous amounts of money. (Far too much money in many people’s opinions.) What courage does it take to hit a ball high into the air with a long piece of wood? What strength of heart does it require to put a ball through a hoop on a high post? What valor does it display to catch a ball and run to a large rectangle at the end of a field for mere points on a scoreboard? 

Some sports stars are worshiped for the games they play. Young children look up to them and aspire to be like them. Kids collect baseball cards, beg their parents to take them to sports games, and ask for certain brands simply because they are endorsed by their favorite sports star. What contributions have sports players made to society besides providing a source of entertainment?

Yes, some sports stars give to charity and support worthy causes, and I am not diminishing the value of that role as a model for kids who look up to them. But so many more famous athletes get their mug shots splattered across news pages and the nightly news for crimes ranging from rape, to assault, to murder. Other sports stars may not get themselves landed in jail, but do get themselves landed in rehab. Kids who look up to these stars may think that this lifestyle is fun and that they can be like their favorite athlete by drinking, smoking, and taking dangerous and illegal drugs.

There seems to be no end to the news about sports icons being thrown into jail, cheating on their wives, bringing guns into sports arenas, pumping steroids, and raping or assaulting people. O.J. Simpson’s murder trial was one of the most televised trials ever. These are hardly healthy behaviors for kids to imitate. Luckily, it seems the rest of America is getting a little tired of sports stars’ antics, too. 

However, the legal troubles of some athletes can be a double-edged sword, because it seems most of them are held to a different standard than the rest of us. Most of the time, star athletes don’t get the time in jail that they deserve and many of them aren’t punished by their coaches or other higher-ups for what they’ve done. I don’t think that suspension for a handful of games is a fair punishment for raping someone, nor does it teach anyone a lesson, especially the kids who look up to these stars and learn that they can get away with crimes if they are famous enough.

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