“Sports serve society by providing vivid examples of excellence.” – George Will
If only that were still true. Yes, I know. Athletes are still excelling, winning gold medals, trophies, Grand Slams, and the like. However, the big sports news stories are getting to be just like the big stories in other areas: drugs, corruption, gambling, violence, domestic violence…
It used to be that you could read the sports section of the newspaper to see wonderful, incredible achievements. Now, you see dog fighting, referees gambling, steroids stories and accusations of so many other types. There is an entire “era” in baseball that seems doomed to have an asterisk by it; you know that there are players that are clean, but who?
How about the story from the Orlando Sentinel (here) yesterday? Apparently a father is facing 10 years in prison for providing his 13-year-old son, a world-class inline speed skater, with steriods. He wanted to “give him an edge.” The son’s trainer has also been convicted. The son, during the investigation, lied to investigators because “he didn’t want to get his father in trouble.” And to think we were worried about the effect of all the steroids in sports on children! According to the article, it is thought this is the first and only case like this in the US – I certainly hope so. I cannot imagine competitive nature overcoming my desire to see my children grow up healthy. I cannot imagine knowingly putting my children’s health at risk. What has he taught a 13-year-old, on top of the health issues? He’s taught him that cheating and lying are the way to go, that that is the way to succeed or to get what you want. I’m starting to feel old and old fashioned; I’d prefer that my kids grow up healthy and succeed by working hard!
Kids used to look up to sports figures. Ok, I am sure that they still do. However, I’m certainly going to take a close look at the figures my children admire and explain things that may need to be explained. I hate the fact that I may have to explain things like dog fighting and cruelty to animals, violence at a night club after a big game, and so on, but I also want my children to have a good idea of what makes a good role model – and what does not. Notice that I realize that that is MY responsibility. I hope my children will be selective in who they look up to; I hope that I can give them the foundation that will enable them to discern a good role model from a bad role model. It would just be nice if I didn’t face having to explain so many negative things to my children based on their behavior.