Since I am an American, and easily manipulated, I spent six hours with the TV this past Sunday. I haven’t owned a TV in years, so this is saying something. I had no vested interest in either team. It was a decent game. Watching my two year old daughter dance during the half-time show was by far the highlight. The commercials were not what I had hoped for.
It is interesting for me to watch pro sports because A) I never do it, and B) I used to be a sportswriter. It is a bizarre world. Money aside, I am very happy that I am not a professional athlete. There are many reasons, but one stands out. We hold athletes to a standard higher than almost anyone else. Higher than politicians and CEOs. Higher than our teachers. Higher than actors, for God’s sake.
You look around the crowd at a major game and there are drunken, painted fools waving bible verses in your face. And they want blood. But they want it clean. No lions are released into the coliseum, but it wouldn’t be out of place. But god help you if you make a mistake. Or if you are not a very nice person.
Now, I think we should hold everyone to a certain standard of decency as humans, and religion has nothing to do with it. But the hypocrisy is astounding. Michael Vick made a mistake. Maybe he’s not a nice guy. Same with Brett Favre and Ben Roethlisberger. And many others. We like our athletes confident, but humble. Honest. Forthright. But why?
Politicians lie and cheat, and we accept that because they are politicians. Lindsay Lohan, it seems, has a free pass to make a mockery of the LA court system. And then there is Charlie Sheen. Here is a man who makes almost two million dollars per episode of a sitcom that is not very original or entertaining (last time I checked). And, instead of using that money to do something decent and kind…hell, instead of just keeping his head down and indulging in whatever he wants…he shacks up for days at a time with a bunch of booze and cocaine and porn stars. And he flaunts it. And it doesn’t really seem like anyone cares.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not petty enough to suggest the man shouldn’t be able to do what he wants as long as he isn’t harming anyone. What I don’t understand is how, in this increasingly right wing Christian nation of ours, he isn’t tarred and feathered. He is not an especially good actor. He plays himself.
But before I get off-track…my issue is not with Charlie Sheen. My issue is why we don’t care about Lindsay Lohan’s drug problems and larceny. Why we ignore Charlie’s bacchanalian shenanigans. Why we watch dumbly as rich politicians and business men actively screw us over, and yet expect our athletes to be good sportsmen, to visit children in hospitals, to support charities, to be better than, perhaps, we even are ourselves.
People are people. They are good and bad, and their vocation has little to do with it. Brett Favre is kind of a sleezeball I guess, but he isn’t the damn pope. His job is/was to throw a football better than most people can. Why does he have to be a boy scout? It would be nice. But I say, until Charlie Sheen is chased out of town by a posse, professional athletes should be able to do whatever they want. We can mind our own business, or we can vilify people. But we can’t do both, as the mood strikes us, without rhyme or reason. That would be almost as crazy as watching TV for six hours.