Bad decisions cause confusion and false perception of people who tend to inspire others

Callie Hawkins

Heroes. Inspiration. Following in one’s footsteps. Everyone looks up to someone who inspires them, whether it is a parent, a grandparent, someone in their preferred future job, etc. Many athletes have someone in the professional world who they can look up to. Incredible football players inspire young boys. Simone Biles is an idol to young gymnasts. Think of Alex Morgan and Lionel Messi; there is not one soccer player in the world who does not know their name.

Now, imagine if they did something widely viewed as something bad. On Nov. 2, former Las Vegas Raiders football player Henry Ruggs III caused a major car accident that ended with the death of a young woman. He had been driving at 156 MPH, while having twice the legal limit of blood alcohol concentration when he ran into the back of 23-year-old Tina Tintor’s car. Raider fans, and more generally football fans and the public, were appalled at what had happened. Fans were ashamed, and it has been a hot topic of discussion.

My dad brought it up at the dinner table the night after it happened and used what happened as an example of what would happen to my siblings and I if we made poor decisions. At first my sister and I had no idea who Henry Ruggs was, but when my little brother heard the name, he was shocked. He had picked Ruggs for his fantasy league and was upset when he found out this player he aspired to be like had done such an awful thing and that he was probably never going to play again.

But it’s not like this is the first time something like this has happened. Things like this happen all the time in general and within the sports world. Henry Ruggs is the most recent and one of the most extreme examples.

One recurring example of this kind of thing is the use of drugs in sports. Growing up, every good parent advises against the use of drugs, and when a fan finds out that the only reason their favorite athlete was so good was because he was on steroids that enhanced their performance, it’s distorting to one’s viewpoint in life. It messes with one’s aspirations, how one thinks of people and their mindset toward humankind. Many baseball fans experienced this throughout the late 90s to the early 00s during the Major League of Baseball experienced what is now called the “Steroid Era”.

Another more recent and prevalent example of the same kind of distortion of idolatry in the sports world is Aaron Rodgers. In Aug., at the beginning of the 2021-2022 NFL season, Rodgers dodged questions about the vaccine and claimed he was “immunized” to Covid-19. On Nov. 3, during the routine Covid-19 test for the players, Rodgers tested positive. This wasn’t quite as extreme as other instances, but still, many of his followers and fans were disillusioned by his lies and his choices.

The cautionary lessons of Rodgers, Ruggs and drug use in the MLB are constant reminders of the dangers of idolatry. Distorted perceptions of athletes can lead to unattainable expectations.

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