It seems like every time you turn on ESPN, you hear about how an athlete has made a stupid mistake or how they are being punished with tremendous fines for indecent conduct on-or-off the field.
Again and again, we side with these reporters as they describe the mishaps all these “celebrities” get themselves into. The high frequency of these reports challenges me to wonder if all these athletes are treated unfairly in the media and their individual leagues.
I do not wish to defend an athlete about their “big” mishaps, such as use of steroids or murders. Such actions like this, in addition to ones surrounding Tiger Woods and his mistresses, are hard to overlook. Reporters have a field day when these type of events happen and investigate every little aspect about it. That is some prime news that instantly obscures away all of an athlete’s previous accomplishments, and then the news portrays them a bad person.
But what happens if an athlete slips up once by getting angry in an interview or attempts to joke around? What if a small action is overanalyzed and ignores any other side to the story? Athletes get bashed daily in order to fill up content for the day.
he paparazzi looks into all celebrities’ lives to find any kind of news. The same can be said in world of sports. Because of the mishaps other athletes have, we as an audience show little mercy to all the other athletes when they mess up, no matter how big a deal it really is.
We do not forgive all of these high-paid, dumb athletes for their mistakes. They get torn apart for the same things we do every day. We do not care or focus on our own misgivings, though, because we do not have cameras around to judge us at all times like these athletes do.
Media is also aided by leagues actions themselves. A few weeks ago the NFL wanted to look out for the safety of its players as several big hits on gameday took place. Brandon Meriweather, Dunta Robinson and James Harrison were each fined for the violent hits they threw that day. Media outlets went to town on the issue the following week. The football league, which used to be praised for solid, powerful tackling, was now looking down on “going too far”.
The most upset of the three was James Harrison who was fined the most ($75,000) for his hit that was not even flagged for a penalty. The angry Harrison, defensive player of the year in 2008, was being bashed for his “dirty” play. No newspaper or television broadcast would have commented on his style of gameplay had the league not decided on stricter rules regarding tackling that individual week. Big hits happened very frequently before this, but due to the league’s decision, all three of those players were looked down upon.
Some athletes love the spotlight and interviews while others get frustrated and make a mockery. Conservative interviews flow under the media radar and keep athletes safe from any dirt. Other antics, such as Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, seem fun to the viewers. Some love and some hate these two characters for their personalities. Sometimes they have gone too far in the league’s eyes and have had to play penalty fees for the fun they have had. In his younger years in football, Owens had another side that a lot of people disliked. He loved to complain about his quarterbacks and even openly discussing contract disputes with the public. When an athlete complains about not receiving additional hundreds of thousand dollars, the average person will not feel very sympathetic. Emotional athletes can paint themselves in a bad light when they talk to newscasters and not sit back and think about the consequences.
An important thing to take away from all this is that not all athletes are complete screw-ups. There have been several athletes that do make bad mistakes and are talked about continuously. The public wants to know about all the slip-ups each individual athlete has had, so the media works hard to make sure they find as much as it can.
The athletes that generally keep good composure have messed up at least one instance in their lives. If you think about it, you would come up with very few that have not openly made a mistake. Michael Phelps has smoked marijuana, Pete Rose bet on baseball, John Daly had a drinking problem, Andre Agassi took crystal meth and even Peyton Manning has gotten into altercations with players and organization over what he thinks is the best way to win. When cameras and eyes are constantly on you, it is hard to maintain a perfect image.