What separates the athlete from, say, the guy who sells the beer at the game? It isn’t a trick question. There are some pretty stark contrasts between a world-class athlete (or David Ortiz) and Joe Six-pack that even Helen Keller could see. First, there is the money. Consider that the average Major League baseball player rakes in $3.3 million a year and your average, hardworking Oklahoman makes a shade over 33 grand and that alone is enough to create a chasm between us and them. Secondly, athletes are fame-mongers and we are more than happy to feed them to their hearts content. And thirdly, they have the bodies of the gods (again, excluding Big Papi) which separates them physically from the ever expanding waistline of America.
But there should be at least one thing that unites humanity and separates us from the beasts. And that one, tiny, little thing is something called a conscience. You know, that voice Jiminy Cricket told us about. Christianity calls it a “still small voice” and it is normally ignored when it doesn’t agree with what our carnality craves.
In the recent months, and I guess years for that matter, there has been more blatant disregard for common decency among professional athletes than most of us would care to admit. Whether it’s Ben Roethlisberger’s run-ins with various women, Tiger Woods barefaced infidelity or, most recently, Lawrence Taylor’s complete idiocy and degradation, it’s almost impossible to get through an entire week without some bonehead letting his manhood out think his brain. You see it. You expect it. And yet you still get that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. You know the kind I’m talking about, the one where you’ve just seen someone ruin their life and you’re helpless to do anything about it.
So that brings me to my reason for pecking away at this keyboard: how in the world can I avoid the mistakes that even the most protected and powerful men in the world commit every single day? Sure, it’s easy to point the finger at the bozos but we’ve all heard the saying that says there are three more pointed right back at me. I am in no way abdicating these figures of their responsibilities, I am just merely pointing out the fact that the same blood that runs through their veins runs through mine and I never want to put my soon to be wife through that kind of hell.
If it is true that sports are a pretty good barometer for the condition of the fans who watch them, what does that say about me? Or about you? I am not preaching, just making an observation. I realize I am not married (yet) but maybe it wouldn’t kill us to go home after work and let our (soon-to-be) wives know that we love them. Maybe, heaven forbid, the TV doesn’t flip right on to ESPN the second our feet pass over the threshold. Who knows, maybe your wife might go ahead and make it worth your while to take out the trash and mow the yard. I’m not preaching, I’m just saying…..
What separates us from professional athletes?
Justin Loomis manages imaging for the Sports Animal as well as various on-air duties.