Let me start off by saying I am not remotely athletic. Never have been. I have always found sports to be too competitive and nothing has happened to dissuade me from this idea.
In fact in recent news quite the opposite has happened. You see we tend to glorify sports people but especially men, as if , merely because they can kick a ball further than other or run really fast or hit a small ball into a hole far, far away, or because they can catch really well. Now I understand that these are great accomplishments but not as great as climbing Everest or, inventing the computer or discovering a cure for a disease or raising a child to be a decent respectful human being. These are note worthy accomplishments but they all seem to be insignificant to the great and glorious SPORT.
But lets just pause and take a look at some of the dark side of sport shall we?
Herein New Zealand we revere the All Blacks like they are God's chosen ones and it leads to them also thinking of themselves as demi-gods. The latest one to fall foul of the glory of being an All Black has been Zac Guilford. He has now finally admitted to being an alcoholic but its hardly surprising with the main sponsorship for the team coming from various alcohol companies. Quite often when the boys are on tour claims of girls being raped, disorderly behaviour or drunken brawling are the norm and are played down by all concerned. As for the girls who claim they have been raped it always seems to be blamed on her for going back to the boys rooms.
All of this pales into insignificance in light of the Steubenville High School event that happened last year. Again we see the culture of sports heroes, only this time they are only of high school age. They are given free license to behave as badly as they choose and it is all passed off as boys letting off steam and "boys being boys". It is also seen as part of the normal behviour of a jock.
Now I always thought the idea of sports was for the sport itself to be an outlet for excess testosterone, that the players would exhaust themselves running around after the ball or hitting the ball with a stick or throwing it through a hoop or whatever sport it is that they are playing. The reality is that it just seems to hype them up even more so that they need an after party of alcohol and general debauchery to wind down after the game and if this means that somebody gets punched or things get smashed or girls get raped , well then that is just par for the course. In fact it is not just limited to the players of the game. Those at home or in the stands also get wound up about the game and fights regularly break out in the stands or on the trains on the way home. In fact soccer hooligans have become a staple of every soccer match in England.
Men regularly go home drunk, after the game and punch their wives or beat each other up on the way home or rape some unsuspecting women.
Oscar Pistorious has just been accused of shooting his girlfriend in a roid rage ( yes we even have a term for it!) and he is an Olympic athlete ie the creme de la creme of all sportsmen.
These are the people that we are telling our kids to emulate, to look up to. We encourage our kids to take up sports to let off stream, to direct their emotions into a physical activity so that they don't vent them in unhealthy ways but the reality seems to be the exact opposite for some of our elite athletes. They drink too much, they take drugs ( Lance Armstrong springs to mind), they want to win at any cost and because we give them such huge respect for what they do they think they have license to do as they please and their managers and the clubs they belong to will protect them, and they do. Sure they might get a fine or stood down from playing a certain game for a short period but ultimately their large pay checks and their do as you please lifestyle continues.
Sport was supposed to be fun. It is JUST a game. It has become big business with millions of dollars at stake and up for prizes. Womens sport is never taken as seriously and violence against women by sportsmen seems part of the deal .
I am glad that in the case of the Steubenville High School the courts finally brought the boys to account for what they had done but unfortunately some newstation are still decrying the end of their brilliant sports careers without once mentioning the end of a young girls innocence and the devastating impact this rape and objectification will have on her life. Watch here
What do you think? Do we glorify sportsmen too much?