First, I’d like to make one thing clear: I’m a hypocrite. No question. I’m not proud of it and when my kids or my wife point it out, I’m not always easily convinced, but that doesn’t change anything. I’m still a hypocrite and after a few seconds, maybe a few minutes, sometimes a day or two, I’ll finally come around and recognize how right they are. Sometimes I repeat the same mistake over and over again. The lessons aren’t easy to learn, but that’s one of the lessons, right? Learn from my mistakes. Grow, mature, improve. Hopefully.
Does that protect me from further criticism. No. So if you don’t like the rest of this commentary, have at it, lay into me. I deserve it.
Here’s what you deserve. You’re a fool. You are disappointed by Tiger Woods, you expected more from Roger Clemens, you can’t believe that David Ortiz took performance enhancement drugs. You think that Manny Ramirez is a decent man just because he is the greatest natural hitter to play the game since Ted Williams, another splendid spoiled brat who thought that he was a better specimen than the rest of us. You’re buying it. You think that there are some people who are so much better than the rest of us at what they do that when they prove susceptible to the illnesses wrought by money and fame, you’re surprised. Worst of all, it matters to you. After all, you say, they’re the role models for your kids.
You’re a fool. You pay big money to watch the world’s best athletes. You subscribe to the sports networks, you get a warm feeling when your athlete wins. You buy products that they endorse. You think that their name imbues your sneakers with skill, perseverance and grace. You wear their swoosh where everyone can see, you glory in their image, you admire their likeness. They mean something to you. You’re the role model and you are a fool.
Your son or daughter aspires to their fame; that would be one way to get your attention. You don’t have a library worth a damn but you have season tickets to the Sox. You skip the PTA meeting because the game is on. You don’t ask them how they are feeling, what they are doing in school, who they are spending time with, but you soak up everything written about the latest Belichik scheme, the weaknesses in the secondary, the machinations of the people who talk about the people who manipulate the people who play professional sports. You are a fool.
Here’s my recommendation to you. Shut it all off, until you heal and can see athletes for what they really are. Stop making high school, college and professional sports a transcendent priority. Don’t buy tickets, heck, don’t take free tickets. Don’t buy their foolish jerseys, don’t wear their caps, don’t buy the newspaper to read the sports page, don’t listen to sports talk on the radio, unplug ESPN, take up your own sport, play with your own kids, get the skinny on physical education in the sixth grade. Don’t be such a fool just because Tiger can hit a stupid little ball further and more accurately than anyone ever before. Can he teach you anything truly worthwhile? Does Tiger Woods, the idol, really matter?