Posted by Colin Doyle, March 19, 2010
Image by Colin Doyle
Here's the thing.... to be a pro athlete is to be tremendously admired by people of all ages and walks of life. All-Star pro athletes are the closest thing we have to real life superheroes. It is no wonder then that fans also make the mistake of projecting onto their favorite athletes the same type of incorruptible character we admire in our favorite fictional heros.
Unfortunately, the ability to save the day for your team is no indication that you have anything resembling morals at all. In fact I would argue that with great power comes (in most cases ) great irresponsibility.
The truth is that if most normal people were given, the fame, the money, and the access of a superstar athlete, they would find it almost impossible not to be self indulgent. In a way, having such exceptional talent can often leave these All-Stars with an underdeveloped personal character. Its kind of like being born extremely attractive. Those lucky few manage to avoid a great deal of the types of experiences that would otherwise help them develop into a deeper, better rounded person. Instead, the All-Star coasts by because, like the extremely attractive person, they eventually realize they posses something everybody wants and thus use it as leverage to get what they want.
This is why we make such a big deal when real heroes emerge from a sport. It is no small accomplishment to lead by example both inside and outside of the game you compete in. For every one of these types of athletes there are a good thirty to forty Ben Rothlessbergers, or Plaxico Buresses limping from their escalades to their court dates and reminding us that speed, strength, and athletic skill are no match for human frailty.