The Count Continues To Climb

By Lamont Germany
Updated: April 4, 2008

O.J. SimpsonBALTIMORE, MD—Mike Tyson, Allen Iverson, Ray Lewis, Jayson William, Kirby Puckett, Daryl Strawberry, Pete Rose, Dwight Gooden, Bruce Smith, Mark Chmura, Jim Brown, and of course the king of ‘em all…. O.J. Simpson. I could go on, but I’d run out of space.

All of the above are athletes who have had trouble with the law. All of the above have made some stupid off the field choices.

No, this isn’t a commentary about what bad boys they’ve all been. That’s too easy. No, this isn’t about how they have all let our young people down. I think that commentary’s been done. This is about how gullible many of us can be when it comes to elevating athletes to underserved social pedestals based upon nothing more than their athletic prowess.

The ability to hit a jump shot doesn’t make you a good guy or a bad guy. It doesn’t make you any better or worse than anyone else. It makes you a good jump shooter. Period. So why is it we have this irresistible urge to deify anybody who can slam-dunk?

Sports fans have to shoulder part of the blame, but we media folks are the main culprits. We can’t wait to salivate and wax philosophical over the unending virtues of the superstar of the moment. We can’t wait to tell you about the next athlete who is the fastest…the strongest… the greatest this and the greatest that…. And heaven help them if their not perfect people, because we can’t wait to tell you about their imperfections either.

Warning!!! The next time one of us in the media inundates you with how wonderful, adorable, caring, giving, understanding, gracious, kind, all knowing, all seeing and all-powerful the next Johnny “Superstar” is, please forgive us. We get a little carried away sometimes. Johnny “Superstar” can’t actually walk on water without getting his feet wet. We media folks just make it seem that way.

The reality is that once an athlete leaves the field of play, he or she isn’t much different than the rest of us. After the game is over they usually rejoin the human race. Some are egotistical, arrogant snobs. Some are nice folks. Some are choirboys, and yes some might be dope dealers or even murders.

It should be no surprise that once in a while a great athlete screws up. We all screw up. Doctors, lawyers, Indian Chiefs, Butcher, Bakers, candlestick makers…& even sports columnists screw up. When a high profile athlete screws up his foibles are front-page news. However, when Leon the delivery boy for Fed-Ex screws up, nobody cares.

Athletes are blessed with special skills, but that doesn’t necessarily make them better people. Simply being a great athlete and making lots of money doesn’t exempt anyone from stupidity.

I don’t think we have to worry about what we are going to tell our children when an athlete does something illegal. I think it’s simple. We tell our children that choices come with consequences. If you make poor choices, you may have to reap some tough consequences

Hey folks, Stuff happens. Even to those who have great jump shots.

I’m Lamont Germany…

This is your two-minute warning…