The recent release of names of steroid using major league baseball players was but one more look into the dark side of sports. Yet if we are honest with ourselves, it only confirmed what we already believed was going on. Was too much made of it? Perhaps. I agree that lying and cheating are pale in comparison to sports star incidents of violence or committing unimaginable cruelty to man’s best friend. Still, it all adds up. The parade of anti-social or illegal behavior by sports celebrities takes its toll. Only the most rabid fans are blind to it, the ones who excuse away nearly any misdeed as long as the team is winning.
My own kids have been grown for a long time, and my grandchildren are still very young. If they were teens or preteens today, I would be talking with them often about the qualities that make a person truly worthy of admiration. Enjoy sports for what they are, I would try to convey. But the ability to run faster or throw a ball more accurately than average has absolutely nothing to do with character and decency as a human being.
This is not to say there are not many fine men and women athletes. It would be terribly unfair to say that. Yet we also know that in too many instances some of the most physically gifted are found to be dispossessed of morals and ethics. Making matters worse, today’s popular culture makes instilling the values of decency and good citizenship to the young very difficult. Nevertheless, it is the prime responsibility of every parent. If understanding the difference between celebrity and character is not instilled in the home, more than likely it will not be taught at all. And that is the truth.