Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Wide World of Bad Sports

I was listening to some disembodied voices on ESPN radio this morning, talking about an incident involving a star athlete.  What happened was, Star Athlete did something not very sportsmanlike. 

Now, before I launch into the meat of the story, let me take a little side trip to address these talking heads.  Who are these people?  Why do they demand my respect as “experts?”  For the most part they are not athletes, but reporters who have made the move from newspaper to the more lucrative radio and TV, and yet they speak as though the world is waiting on the edge of our collective seats to hear them spout their irrefutable wisdom and prophecies on all things sports.  

Now back to our regularly scheduled rant.

So, one of the talking heads says he doesn’t believe that what Star Athlete did or said was all that bad, because as he put it, “Look…(they always say “Look…” before erupting in uncompromising intellect)…it was just Star Athlete being Star Athlete.”  And it struck me that what he was saying was that because Star Athlete is a jerk, it’s not bad sportsmanship.  Because, after all, that’s just the nature of Star Athlete. So he defines bad sportsmanship as actions coming from someone who is not a star athlete. 

How pitiful are we that we must accept childish, boorish, rude, offensive, unsportsmanlike behavior from someone because they are a Star Athlete?

The other talking head read an email from a listener.  “This guy asks, ‘Is this the sort of behavior you want your kids to model?’”  And the first talking head (quickly establishing himself as the Alpha Talking Head) responds, “Look…these aren’t kids…they’re professional athletes…let’s treat them that way…”

Huh?  Wait, he went on to admonish parents to be better at parenting and to tell their kids, “Look…these are professional athletes…and professional athletes act differently than you do.”

At the risk of being redundant—again, Huh?

Are we so enthralled by Star Athlete and all star athletes, that we are to ignore bad sportsmanship—no, not ignore, ACCEPT bad sportsmanship, because these people are, after all, Star Athletes?  And it’s up to us to simply teach our kids that what Star Athlete did is NOT bad sportsmanship, it’s just Star Athlete being Star Athlete, and they act differently?  Seriously? 

Look…(see what I did there?)…it’s not about Talking Heads and Star Athlete.  It’s about what we are willing to put up with in the name of professional sports entertainment.  It’s about what we want our kids to learn.

I remember not long ago when another star athlete with a reputation for bad sportsmanship was asked about being a role model.  He said, “I am NOT a role model!”

Yes you are, Star Athlete.  Whether you like it or not, you ARE a role model.  

You’re just not a good one.

1 comment:

  1. This is all SO very true. It actually makes me physically ill. Could there be any stronger example of "double standard?" I think not. How sad. And who keeps paying the big bucks to be entertained by Star Athlete who is nothing more than a jerk with a big salary--why, we do, of course (the collective "we" who keep watching and being entertained by this sort of "professional athlete." Sad commentary on our culture, indeed.