Sunday, February 8, 2009

Is A-Rod A Poster Boy Or Just Another Guy And Why Do We Consider Players Role Models?

I can't escape the news, it's everywhere. So another major league player, who tested on the condition of anonymity, was revealed to have tested positive during a drug test in 2003 along with over 100 other players. So now I guess it's A-Roid instead of A-Rod though then again, who wasn't on the juice or a banned substance back then would probably be a shorter list. On top of all the press, there are editorials blasting him and how the luster and purity of the game is now lost. I contend that the perception of these moralities lies within the individual fan themselves and is the same as it has always been and that such judgements are further proof these players should not be any one's role model.

Every year I hear how these athletes are role models and tarnish the image of the game and a generation of fans. I am calling bull crap on this excuse for those who slip up. I was a young athlete who every year looked forward to baseball season and playing on fresh cut grass surrounding a diamond of dirt that I tried my best to wear home every night. I had favorite players, I watched Baseball Bunch every Saturday and when I could, I watch the New York Mets or whatever game was on to enhance my enjoyment of the sport but I NEVER idolized them to the point that I had to do everything they did on and off the field, I was my own person. When you tell me that a high school kid uses short cuts because he wants to be just like these athletes, I have no problem telling you that I put this more on the coaches and parents for the pressure put on these kids to perform up to a certain level set of them. If this kid had correct guidance and proper models around them, they would see that hard work can also pay off and much can be accomplished with that.

I am not solely blaming parents before people condemn me for such a response, I am blaming all that surrounds that kid and the game itself. From parents who want a big pay day for their kid to coaches who believe in pushing through year round training and nothing less then perfection to a system that promotes power numbers. Ask yourself what is more newsworthy in recent baseball history then home run records being pursued by larger then life athletes? Or who had the most devastating tackle in the last football game? Very rarely do we emphasize the guy who out on the field contributing in other ways. How many times is a highlight reel of a game on sports television shows mostly about those type of power plays to fit it into one minute segment because it's what we crave and have been taught is the best symbol of a great play or players.

So before we put A-Rod up on a plateau to debate his merits of Hall Of Fame credentials, maybe we need to further examine our own standards. Is cheating wrong? Yes it is and there are and should be punishments for those who commit them and are caught. But why do we also put them out there and hanging them publicly for their actions and use them as justification to talk about how society is worse now for it? If you want to buy merchandise or teach you kid to swing a bat like them that's fine but please while your doing that, teach them also about why shortcuts don't always pay off and that there are many in major league baseball and in life who because they chose the high road, were better off for that path. We don't need heroes and athletes to look up to as though they are on a pedestal, we need to find the individual within that child and teach them morale guidelines to make them better people who if they happen to turn out to be star athletes, are all the more blessed for having those abilities.

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