Charles Barkley, the former NBA superstar, who was often known as much for his basketball prowess as for his crude and bad boy behavior, was once asked by a reporter why he didn’t try to transform himself into a role model and a positive example to young people. Barkley, never one to mince words, said that he was not a model citizen but a basketball player who was paid to put a ball into a hoop. Barkley further stated that he had no intention of changing roles to suit the media or society. Barkley’s comments, although honest and direct, did not sit well with his audience of adoring basketball fans, who wanted him to become a better example to America’s youth. That never happened.
Today, America remains tethered to celebrity sports heroes; too many of us come to think that these remarkable physical specimens are not only gods but that they have a real interest in all their adoring followers. It fails to dawn on American fandom that these ” heroes ” live in their own world, travel with their own entourages and are mostly in sports for the money and the endorsements. Too many kids idolize these ” heroes”, hoping that they will become a great sports figure and enjoy the adulation and the dollars that come with joining the ranks of the gods.
So when one of the ” heroes” like Tiger Woods is shown to be just another guy on the make, who is a self-centered jerk with zero moral values and human kindness, America gasps and wonders how this god could become just like the rest of the self-centered jerks in our world. Celebrity hungry America just can’t embrace the truth that Tiger Woods is an ordinary guy with extraordinary physical talents, but not necessarily extraordinary values or simple goodness.
The gossip mongers and Hollywood enablers hope to keep the image of Tiger’s specialness alive by making excuses for their god. And so an excuse is concocted by his fan base – he is a sex addict with a serious psychological disease that requires treatment and understanding; never mind that Tiger seemed to thoroughly enjoy his disease and never once sought help to overcome his malady or confide in his wife about his need for help.
When will American society begin to see that putting these sports “heroes” up on a pedestal and using them as role models is a simple waste of time and a fools journey. The soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are heroes, police officers, firemen and teachers are heroes, the guys and gals who work three jobs to keep a family together are heroes, but certainly not the Tiger Woods of the world. Sure guys like Tiger Woods have talent, sure they know how to win, sure they lead a glamorous life, but heroes, role models, not really.