I have never been a fan of mainstream sports like football, basketball or baseball. I still laugh when people refer to golf as a sport. I never recognized pro players as having anything particularly worthy of note, and therefore never had the love affair with them that so much of America seems to possess. I was always uneasy with the bully factor of sports players during my school years and seeing the special treatment kids received for having athletic talent made me a little sick. I frequently wondered why they weren’t held to the same social and educational standards that the rest of us were. They were a source of annoyance rather than entertainment.
The older I got, the dumber the pro players got. They became even less worthy of the money and status they received while their paychecks kept growing and their education kept dwindling. The class and etiquette that used to be required of pro athletes is a thing of the past. Rather than suits and an attempt at speaking well in public, it’s wife beaters, tattoos and public threats. The idea that a God would favor one team of idolaters over another because of a particularly pious hypocrite made me laugh every time Tebow would open his mouth.
You have Michael Vick dog fighting; Lance Armstrong coming clean (pun intended) for his ‘roid use; Barry Bonds getting denied the Hall of Fame for PED use; Pistorius killing his girlfriend; Tiger and countless affairs. The disgusting list goes on and on.
This is a bit of a non-sequitur, but Sports Illustrated published a 2009 study that found 78 percent of professional athletes file bankruptcy or are reported as being “under financial stress” within two years of their career ending. It’s a sobering fact, isn’t it? Especially considering most pro careers end before the players are 40.
As I skimmed Google News the very morning I was writing this article, there were two of five sports stories regarding players who got caught doping. According to many of those who get caught, it’s not who is using, it’s just who gets caught, insinuating that most players use.
I can’t help but wish we could train our children to emulate people with a little bit more integrity. Or at the very least, end the drug testing and let people who want to be science experiments do it. Let them become the gladiators that they try to become in hiding. We could have two groups of athletes – one on drugs, and one clean group – so people could compete in a more balanced tier. That way we could study the effects of performance enhancing drugs in a controlled and honest environment on people who wish to test the results.
I don’t plan on mellowing my disdain for pro football anytime soon, so I will have to be content with the heroes I have in my world. As I have grown up, my heroes have morphed a little. They have changed from BMX pioneers to the people I interact with directly on a life or professional basis. I have grown deep admiration for people who live a life that honors their values, their neighbors and the earth. My heroes have their issues, too. They may work too much, or not make the money they deserve, or maybe they like their music a little too loud. They may have different beliefs from my own, but they generally accept people for who they are, and work towards making their world a better place.
I would like to give a huge, hero-high-five to my everyday heroes: The librarians who manage the books I love so much; the cooks, waiters, waitresses, bartenders and dish-dogs who feed me when I don’t cook for myself; my biking buddies, my business partners; my brother, David, the director of the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, who followed his love of all things living to place him in a career that helps keep Colorado the Colorado I know and love; my father, Keith, who taught me to love the question “Why?” and gave my brother and me the gift of music; my wife, Courtney, who lets me be me and supports my every whim and fancy.