Culbreath: Still not role modelsWritten by Matt 'Shaggy' Culbreath | | firstname.lastname@example.org
“I am not a role model.” Charles Barkley told us that again and again, and we still refuse to listen.
More and more news about athletes behaving badly has appeared lately: Major League Baseball handing down it’s punishment for the players wrapped up in the Biogenesis scandal; Heisman Winner Johnny Manziel out partying once again; The video of the Carlos Hyde incident hits the Internet. And sportswriters are once again up in arms about what the actions of these athletes mean, not only to the sport, but to society. I’m here to tell you that both will be fine.
With any luck, the punishment handed down the MLB will be one of the final nails in the coffin of the PED era. We scratched, we clawed and we knocked out as many drug users as we could. This massive batch of players won’t be the last, but it’ll hopefully scare enough young guns into playing straight.
Carlos Hyde got lucky. When the Ohio State running back was about to be charged with assault two weekends ago, the word was that he had struck a woman at a club. When the video surfaced this past week, it not only showed that the woman he was in the incident with swung at him first, but the video didn’t really clearly show that he struck back. He did make a motion toward striking, though, and head coach Urban Meyer rightfully suspended him three games. Calm down, Bucknuts, you can survive Cal without him.
The Johnny Manziel story gets more and more ridiculous as it goes on. Shoved into the spotlight when he had a bonkers second half to the season last year, and winning the Heisman Trophy, suddenly the Texas A&M QB’s every move is under intense scrutiny. He oversleeps at a quarterback camp run by the Manning family, and he’s suddenly the number one topic of SEC Media Day. He appears at a frat party at the University of Texas, gets the boot, and everyone in the country is suddenly wagging their fingers and shaking their head, as if he’s well on his way to becoming the next Aaron Hernandez.
The website Awful Announcing made a very cogent point when it came to the coverage of Manziel, et al: “the TMZization of Sports Media is complete.” The national sports scene has long given up covering teams. Tather they focus on celebrity: Manziel, Tebow, LeBron, Kobe, A-Rod. The race in the AL Central doesn’t mean a thing, because Tom Brady came to training camp with beautiful hair.
It only makes sense, then, that when players go off the path of righteousness, the sportswriters and reporters will come down hard. After all, they elevated these people to their superstar status, so how dare they turn their back on us?
I’m not saying what these guys did was wrong. Clearly, MLB has to get PEDs out of the sport. Urban Meyer had to come down on Hyde, not only to send a message to his players, but to save face himself. Manziel … hell, I’m still trying to figure out what exactly Johnny Football did wrong. He didn’t get into a fight, or broke some NCAA rule. He went to a party at a rival school, thought that his hardware could get him in the door and learned that loyalty runs deep with the Longhorns.
When it comes down to it, though, we’re covering these players because they’re good at what they do: playing sports. They throw the football far, and they hit the baseball deep. Plenty of athletes have charities that do a lot of good, but nobody talks about that. The second they run afoul of the law, however, the national sports beat comes on like they’re the friggin’ I-Team. But there’s already an I-Team in the news department — they can handle that beat.
Alex Rodriguez said that he wants to be a role model. But Barkley had it right: “Just because I can dunk a basketball, doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”
Tags: Shaggy Culbreath