Volume 95, Issue 22

Thursday, October 11, 2001
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Meatheads and golf with Lucifer in the NHL

Mustangs go down swinging

They're athletes, not angels

They're athletes, not angels

For whom the bell tolls
Jordan Bell
Sports Editor

The definition of an athlete in The Oxford Dictionary is "one who competes or excels in physical games or exercises." Nowhere in this definition does it suggest an athlete must be as agile in matters of the heart.

Last weekend, Barry Bonds completed his historical run at Mark McGwire's home run record, bashing 73 round-trippers out of the yard. Bonds will not be remembered for his excellence in America's game though, but for his aloof, so-called arrogant "asshole" personality.

It begs the question: are athletes required to be what everyone wants them to be?

The Bonds example is a double-edged sword.

Bonds is less than forthcoming with the media and doesn't exactly shy away from self-gratification.

Still, the most troublesome aspect of his personality is his selfish nature. Bonds plays for himself and ignores his teammates along the way.

Hurting the team is the ultimate sin.

Not every athlete across the globe will be the next Michael Jordan – a seemingly perfect man in smile, physique, looks and intellect. It's unrealistic to expect heroes to measure up to herculean criteria.

Let's remember though – even Jordan had explicit flaws in character. The poker table was his "happy place," where his wallet emptied faster than a fan at a homecoming football game.

In modern times, athletes are vilified for transgressions off the field. For example, numerous athletes were blasted for going to a strip club in Atlanta.

Who cares if some young man wants to watch women get naked? As long as he hits his home runs or throws down his 360 degree dunks, we should be satisfied.

It's time to de-mystify the role-model stature of athletes.

Just like I have a responsibility to bring the faithful Gazette reader my view on sports, the athlete has a responsibility to perform to their highest level and put team success ahead of themselves.

But if you think I am going to stop getting my fill of the Brewmeister's love potion at the Ceeps or stop treating my enemies like Bonds treats a baseball, you're quite mistaken.

Everyone in this world has a skeleton in their closet and to deny this is a big mistake. Some people are shy (not arrogant like many outgoing people think), some people are insanely competitive and even some men like to dress in women's clothing.

They may be flaws, but they make up an intricate web that is our individual personality. Accept athletes for who they are, not the person you expect them to be.

The job of a professional athlete, or any athlete for that matter, is to lay their heart on the field for their team and for themselves. Success, however the team measures it, is the goal.

Sports fans everywhere should start to appreciate the gift these men and women are blessing us with and leave hero worship for citizens who search burning buildings to save lives.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001