Around The Horn: Athletes’ standards slipping in sports world

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I’ve always been a fan of sports but mainly baseball. Growing up my favorite players were Rusty Greer and Rafael Palmeiro. It was almost a ritual. Every time the Rangers played, I curled up into a chair with my dad and we watched the game. I admired these ballplayers that I had grown up watching, and I learned from watching them play.

I was definitely shocked when Rafael Palmeiro was accused of taking performance-enhancing steroids. When he denied the allegations in front of a Congressional committee in March 2005, I definitely had hope that maybe it had been a false accusation. But he tested positive for steroids in August 2005. It was like a blow to the gut. My childhood hero had been a cheater and a liar the whole time I watched him play. He became a free agent after the 2005 season and no one picked him up. He has yet to return to the sport.

Going through high school, I was extremely naïve to the ways of the world and the underbelly of high school. Things weren’t always what they seemed. Most of the athletes were smart, funny, popular and responsible, but there were a few who got away with a lot. In high school, every student in an extracurricular activity was “randomly” drug-tested. My name was called along with several other athletes in my class. The teacher said one of the football player’s names and his face got pale. We started to walk down the hallway and he suddenly disappeared. I was told later by one of my friends that she had seen him get in his car and leave because he knew he would fail the drug test. But the next week he could be seen back out on the football field. Later in the year, the basketball team made playoffs. One of the stars of the team was having an extremely tough time in his math class and everyone knew he had failed the previous six weeks and it was not looking good. However, he magically passed the day before a crucial game. There was a lot of suspicion around it and many students thought the teacher had passed him just so he could play-not because of academic improvement.

Now I’m in college and the stories still continue from high school and new stories are surfacing about college athletes. I’ve heard rumors about athletes getting wasted the night before a big game just to spite their coach and athletes giving their R.A.’s hell because they know their coach won’t do anything and can get away with it.

Athletes should be held to a higher standard than an average student. They not only represent themselves but their coach, their school and the sport they play. A higher moral code should be in place for these players because they are in the spotlight and are an example to others whether they realize it or not. I went to the NCJAA Division three World Series to watch the baseball team play. Before the game, they let a little league team warm up with the team. Those little boys were star struck and acted like they were warming up with Josh Hamilton. During the game, they watched every move the TJC guys made, every word they said, every hand signal in awe of them. That should be enough of a reason to make any athlete want to be their best. You never know who might be watching you.

Athletes should learn self-control and try to act like they have some sense instead of having the ‘party all the time’ attitude or the ‘I’m invincible’ attitude because the’re not. Sooner or later there will be consequences. Underage drinking will lead to liver disease and possibly cancer. Passing classes without doing anything will lead to not really knowing anything and will hurt you in the work force. Trying to get away with everything will lead to an obnoxious attitude and no one will want to be around you but other obnoxious people.

Sports may be great but it doesn’t last. I know from personal experience. My senior year of high school, I was recruited to play softball at a Division I school and offered a full scholarship. During a high school game I stole second base and collided with another player and sustained a critical head injury. As soon as the school heard that, my scholarship was pulled and I’ve slowly had to adjust to life without softball. I played for 14 years and have softball withdrawal every day but I’ve been able to build a life without it.

Athletes are under the spotlight and should realize that what they have shouldn’t be taken for granted or abused. There are athletes out there who want the chance that others been given. College athletes should be grateful and humble and work hard every day to prove that they deserve the chances that their coaches took on them.  

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