PRO SPORTS PARTING WAYS WITH ORDINARY PEOPLE?

PRO SPORTS SETS BAD EXAMPLE FOR NON-ATHLETES AND THE VULNERABLE

The problems facing New York Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez (AKA A-Rod) are only the tip of the iceberg. And that tip is poisoned with human growth hormones and other “performance enhancing drugs” or PEDs. Pity the person who has to resort to such means in order to boost their playing abilities and thus their salary and their notoriety. Unfortunately the attention A-Rod has received has not been the best or positive.

Other professional athletes have resorted to the use of PEDs, but one must ask why such means are necessary. Is standard physical exertion and practice not good enough to meet the needs and requirements of the teams on which these folks want to go? Why would a better diet, or another sort of workout program, be more useful? Why the need for these hazardous drugs and the methods of introducing them into the body?

It might be safe to say that many athletes at all levels could do with a better diet, less stress and more practice and perhaps a change in how they exercise. No doubt the issues revolve around pride and arrogance, greed and the shows- ancient as they are- of might and right.

Might and right… the strong having to show off, puff up, be “celebrities”, and show others the best and yet the worst that people can do and think. The best that can come out of being athletic is, ideally, a healthy lifestyle, free of drugs, balanced with proper exercise and a diet fit for the activities we do. People talk about “healthy living” all the time- eating less junk or processed foods, getting regular and wholesome sleep, getting regular and suitable exercise, and being careful when we do exercise so that we do not encounter burnout or injury.

There is that ancient and marvelous vision of the male and female athletic figure, going way back to early figures of human sculpture, with muscles toned and strong, with that ability to run marathons, lift weights, wrestle, tangle with fierce animals, and engage in gladiatorial events to determine who wins and loses surrounded by weapons and shields and dirt kicking up every which way. There is that ideal of the human being, burnished and buffed and bulging like the weightlifters at the Olympic Games, the long jumpers and the high jumpers, the shot putters, the javelin hurlers and the curlers, in their uniforms and colors with numbers and names. This is the ideal carried on into the present day, and we can see the results of performance instantly now versus centuries ago when events were held locally or when it took weeks to travel and hold events in other towns and countries.

Now we have the, uh, privilege of seeing hundreds of hours of professional and other levels of sports every day, every year. We are bombarded with such options across our mass media screens and devices and can see anything we want- football (Canadian, American, and Australian Rules), baseball, hockey, gymnastics, swimming, curling, the Olympics, horse racing, soccer, sailing, tennis, automobile racing (NASCAR, IRL, Formula One), motorcycle racing, monster truck events, demolition derbies, rugby, and others. We see people with whom we identify, struggling on those fields with others competing against them for that coveted trophy, the cash award, the glory of basking in the light of the cameras and that chance to say, “I WON!” It is the athletic version of the turf war- someone wants to take over that ground, claim it with any means necessary, and dance around in the camera lights gleaning every iota of attention that they can.

The corporate people just live it up and love every moment of it… unless their superstar goes wrong in doing drugs or abusing a spouse or getting hurt midway through the big contract with that celeb. Then what happens to the millions upon millions of dollars invested in that major marketing explosion to tout a new pair of shoes, the “official athletic gear” for that team, and the naming rights to stadiums and arenas? If that superstar player steps even that much out of line, it hits the news and the whole venture suffers. The product is not bought, the stock might go down in value, the player of course suffers both the injuries to the body and to their reputation with fans and with the front office, and the fans… well they are the ones hurt most.

We now can know about such mistakes as those made by A-Rod almost as soon as the legalese hits the mass media fan and the outlets get hold of “aha, another star has done something wrong and we can jump all over him/her”. Do YOU want YOUR kids having people like him as an example? I don’t want to have him even mentioned around me and I hope my niece and nephew do not go the way of him or others like him in order to gain some measly sense of attention and performance. I hope that if or when they have families that they keep their kids well clear of such bad examples.

Now we have the choice of whether or not to buy that season ticket, the hundred dollar seat, and the dozens of dollars in concessions. We must think about why we are watching professional sports when those players are getting contracts worth more than we will ever see in ten lifetimes unless we are fortunate enough to rake in ten million dollars a year. We must choose- do we support these people with their anger management issues, their salaries so big they can buy those big houses and cars and do those expensive drugs that get them in trouble?

I know where I am going with my attention to pro sports, that’s for sure. Far as this author is concerned, that’s enough for me. There are better things I can do with my money and time and resources, instead of giving another day or hour or second of attention to these people and teams and what surrounds them. I started feeling frustrated years ago with the continual talk from the sports business about salaries and poor performance issues, but now the fence has been crossed. There are other ways I can spend weekends. I plan in 2014 to frequent other venues of entertainment and culture, and put my money into charitable and benevolent causes where I know the results and can see what happens and not have (or reduce the chance of) a high-horse, puffed-chested celebrity getting in the way and taking money or attention that should be devoted to the point of the cause, such as giving to food banks, hospitals, medical research, and community service. I am going to put down the remote and pick up the cleanup gear and get out there and help someone else away from the spotlight.

What do you think? Is this the end of pro sports for you and your family too?

Divi Logan, Chicago. 2014.

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