Monday, January 31, 2011

Sittin' in the Principal's Office

When I was in elementary, it was common to see my classmates wearing the jerseys of Montana, Bradshaw, McMahon, and Elway. My favorite team has been the Packers, and while I didn't wear the jersey of any of my favorite in green and gold, I did support my team with a sweater with a Packer patch that matched my stocking hat with a gold ball at the top. Aside from the fact that my parents didn't want to buy me an expensive jersey, there weren't many "marketable" players playing for Green Bay. But that changed once I was graduated from college. Finally the Packers had someone worthy of my buying that jersey - Brett Favre.
I didn't wear the jersey often, but I had the one of my favorite player on my favorite team. He played the game with the enthusiasm I expect my favorite Packer to play with, and he was the same age as me. How could it get any better? I endured the pain killer experience and supported him, and I took his side early in the Ted Thompson saga. But the one player I idolized finally ended up letting me down.

At the end of his career his left Green Bay for New York, which was just a way to get to division-rival Minnesota. Once he left the countryside of Wisconsin, the bright lights of the big city began to bring different changes to the small-town quarterback. Stories are coming forth now of lewd texts and pictures being sent to female employees of the teams. Not the image I want of the player I idolized for nearly twenty years.

Charles Barkley did a commercial for Nike in the 90s claiming he isn't a role model, but parents should be the role model. There was a bit of controversy surrounding this ad. How could a famous athlete claim he isn't a role model, or more likely, how can an athlete not take on this responsibility? But as time passes, Barkley is so right. Parents shouldn't let their son or daughter idolize their favorite athlete, actor, or other famous person.

In the sports world, there are few athletes who will not eventually disappoint in their career. That isn't a knock against the person, but  honestly pointing out that few are able to handle the power and arrogance that is created by fame. There is a sense of invulnerability and it takes a special person to do deal with it.

My son hasn't chosen he favorite team in sport, nor has he picked an athlete that his favorite for what he or she does on the field. I did buy him a Favre jersey when he was still playing with Green Bay, but that jersey is deep in the closet now. I want him to be a fan of a team, where the players will come and go, but I don't want him to idolize a player, because he will eventually be disappointed.

No comments: