During the Roman Empire, the greater public enjoyed watching Gladiators slaughter each other in the name of sports and entertainment. This period of time served as a reminder to all of humanity, how cruel human beings can be to one another. Typically the Gladiator would need to serve time in order to be granted his freedom. Prior to that, he might as well have lived in a jail cell with little to no contact with the outside world. I could not fathom such an existence where fate and brutality will determine whether or not you live from one day to the next. My how times have changed, or have they?
In today’s society, our traditional and legal sports rarely involve the physical slaughter of an opponent. Victories are now measured by medals, points, games won etc. The public can access these stats by the click of a mouse on the web. Our athletes are not living within physical jails, but live within social media jail cells. Some athletes voluntarily offer their services for the world to see via twitter, facebook etc. Unfortunately most athletes are viciously hunted by fanatical fans and journalists armed with smart phones to record that particular moment. Indirectly these devices have become prisoner ankle bracelets, monitoring the athletes every move with or without their knowledge.
The unfortunate result of our technological advancements is that we are fed daily with tidbits of information about player a or b. Where they are, where they were and what they were doing. To point out a sad example of such news, think back to how many reports you have read about certain NFL players being arrested over the lull in the football season. A track athlete tweeting racial slurs before a billion person live audience and was deservedly condemned for her stupidity. We know the news instantly. However no one seems to care when someone does something honorable. Only bad news stinks up the joint. The good news is there and we smile and we move on.
What makes this even more appalling is the level of stupidity some of these athletes exhibit. Drunken and drug induced binges, arrests, domestic violence and the list goes on. You’d think that these athletes would know right from wrong. Truthfully I believe they all do and are good people in their hearts. We look at these athletes and ponder how we would never do x or y and get into such stupid trouble with the law or otherwise.
What people are forgetting is that we put these athletes on a pedestal for everyone to admire. These athletes develop the God complex. They truly are willed and incentivized to think they can do no wrong. When a super star athlete is young, we instantly feed them compliments, tell them how good they are and how everyone else sucks. We want that player on our team. You can’t help grow up thinking you are the cat’s meow. So technically joe public is at fault here. To put it bluntly, think of the problem we have with city friendly black bears constantly looking for human garbage to eat. If the garbage was locked down, the bears would never come. Instead, the action was to cull the problematic bears by death. A sad end to a sad tale. Another sad analogy would be to compare a parent giving their child too much candy. Now the kid is fat and the parents tell the kid they are fat and need to lose weight. Wait, you gave them the candy and now you redicule them? I don’t get it.
Taking this one step further, we are now at the mercy of teams to protect their problematic players from themselves. Enter Dez Bryant as an example. He clearly isn’t able to control his own path in life according to the team. The team wants to win, winning means money, winning means tying a chain on the very products that make you successful. Is this any different than throwing the gladiators back into their prisons only to be turned out for public consumption every week of the NFL season? Not really in my mind. Here is another example of such a leash. Josh Hamilton must have a personal assistant with him to prevent him from taking drugs or booze again. The one time they let go of the leash, he gets into a trouble with the bottle again. Again the team has to put a chain on its product. I love Josh for coming clean and taking a new path in life, but it’s said that he has to be leashed. He in my mind is no different than the gladiator. We see news of players going broke, blowing millions on God knows what. Oh right the PA’s don’t care about that. Gimme the money! Okay I got the money! Okay player X go play with your money! Oh you are broke! Oh well we got you the money but you were not good enough to meet the minimum amounts for pension, so bye bye! Now where is the rookie phenom we were talking about a minute ago? The PA’s need to do more for their players in my opinion. They should be responsible for teaching financial management etc etc. Ahhhh I could go on… The owners.. ugh.. I won’t even start on that one.
In the end, the athletes are still gladiators. Death may not come in the form of dying, but in the form of public slogging for their stupidities. Whilst most are deserved for their trials and stupid moment tribulations, we need to stop feeding their ego’s and educate them in the proper ways to advance their livelihood, financial, emotional and physical well being. It is only a matter of time before something really goes wrong.
My rant is over.. I could be wrong but I want to have an opportunity to see these guys when they are past their playing days. I want to hear that they are successful in their non athletic adventures. I am tired of hearing someone blow millions upon millions of dollars while I slog away at my day job dreaming of how I can get to retirement. Step up and give me some real motivation folks…We need real heroes and everyone needs to help create them.