Club Sports

Mourning the absence of pure moments in sports

There’s a crisis in sports and no one knows about it. It has slowly crept into people’s views, polluting their minds and tarnishing little kids.

Some call it enlightenment. I call it a travesty.

The problem is that nothing is sacred anymore in sports. Athletes are attacked by the media and the fans for every misstep and pretty soon there will be no one left standing who has not been taken down a notch for one reason or another.

You divorced your wife? You’re a bad husband. You don’t talk to the media? You’re a recluse who is bitter. You took steroids? Well, then you’re a cheater and everything you have done is tainted. You didn’t take steroids? You just haven’t been caught yet.

I have even read an article on Kurt Warner of the Arizona Cardinals attacking his faith in God. No joke, the entire article was a veiled criticism about how strong his belief in God is. There were interviews with players who said it made them feel weird when he talked so strongly about his convictions, and the author also commented on his home life and how he’s raising his children the same way.

Isn’t that what we want? A good citizen with a good home life and strong faith?

For the record, I am not saying everything an athlete does should be private. Things that concern the sport such as steroid abuse, actions concerning the team and even run-ins with the law should be reported on. However, why do certain reporters have to write a story on a star athlete getting a divorce? That’s just kicking someone when they’re down.

The reason I bring this topic up is because we just finished our weekend celebration for our independence. I was trying to think of a witty article about American sporting traditions, but all I was thinking about was my favorite sporting moments and how they made me feel when I was a kid.

You know the ones. They’re the days where you went to the ballpark with your family and you had a hot dog and some peanuts and your dad taught you how to keep score. Or maybe it’s a summer where you watched every single Seattle Mariner game for three months and you came to love those players like your family.

The one pervasive thing throughout those memories and other ones is that your childish sense of wonder and amazement ruled. The moment was pure, whether it was watching Mark McGwire break the home run record or Michael Jordan win another championship. You were a kid, and steroids weren’t around, or rumors of too many cigars and gambling.

I don’t have too many pure sports moments anymore. As you grow older, you become aware of how imperfect the world is. You realize that the athletes you grew up idolizing are in fact just human.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

Those memories of the home run chase from 1998? Tarnished by steroids. Same with that summer where I spent every evening in front of the television watching the 2000 Mariners sneak into the playoffs. Alex Rodriguez was on that team, and this year it came out that he too was linked with steroids.

It’s just sad to see these moments from childhood all of a sudden be ripped from you. With adulthood comes this jaded mentality where you wonder about every single moment and whether or not it was clean.

But even though I have a level of skepticism for things now because I am a part of the media, I still try to capture that wonder. The 2008 Olympics helped. So did opening day from PK Park for Oregon baseball. I try to take each moment for what it is: a great achievement or special occasion. The rest is just baggage.

I guess what I’m asking more people to do is to be kids again. When you go to the ballpark, think less of the past and more about what’s happening right then. If a guy hits a game-winning home run, stand up and cheer – even if he did something wrong last season.

Life is too short to dwell on past misdeeds, and besides, the more we get hung up on things like that, the more the present moment is lost. Teachers and parents always say that no one is perfect. It’s about time we start holding athletes to that same standard. Just because they are gifted with a great talent and are in the public sphere, they shouldn’t be held to a different standard. Human is human, and all of us are in some ways imperfect.

But that’s alright, because that’s what makes the special moments in sports better: imperfect people doing amazing things.

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