Stop confusing athletes’ achievements with their real selves

SHARE Stop confusing athletes’ achievements with their real selves
SHARE Stop confusing athletes’ achievements with their real selves

Whatever happened to sports being an escape from the real world?

Maybe that idea was fantasyland to begin with, but I’m not sure how we arrived at the place we are now, where the real world intrudes on sports so much, the escape feels more like a prison break. You have murderers (Rae Carruth), rapists (Darren Sharper), cheaters (Barry Bonds), frauds (Lance Armstrong), animal abusers (Michael Vick), fiancée punchers (Ray Rice), drug dealers (Sam Hurd) and, of course, serial porn-star daters/adulterers (Tiger Woods).

Now we have a woman accusing Bulls guard Derrick Rose of sexual assault, mere weeks after news leaked that Hamburg, N.Y., police were investigating Blackhawks star Patrick Kane.

Sigh.

Rose’s attorney says the woman just wants money. No charges have been filed against Kane.

These days, there are as many discussions about the scourge of entitled athletes as there are about the Cubs’ playoff chances. Remember when you used to say a slumping hitter was due? Now you’re more concerned with his due process.

It’s almost impossible to know who or what to believe anymore. Or who or what to believe in.

My suggestion, for the sake of your sanity, is to disconnect. Limit your thoughts about an athlete to what he does on the field, the court or the ice. Don’t project on to a player what you’d like him to be away from his sport. Just because someone has a nice smile does not mean that the worst he can be guilty of is impishness. Dimples don’t necessarily denote innocence.

Too many people confuse an athlete’s on-field performance with his off-field persona. Just because someone hits home runs or scores a lot of goals or even raises money for a particular charity does not mean he is a fine fellow.

Don’t immediately assume that the player you admire so much is misunderstood when he gets into trouble. Realize that you really know almost nothing about these people.

This will strike some of you as the height of cynicism. I think of it as protection for fans. This way, nobody gets hurt. Other than the next victim.


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