Insights and Observations
Monday, April 24, 2006
By Henry Hinton
Real sports idols getting
harder to find
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My heroes growing up
were Bobby Richardson, the great second baseman for the New York Yankees, and
Roger Staubach, the All-American quarterback from Navy who went on to a
stellar career with the Dallas Cowboys.
Looking back I wonder if I was drawn to them because they were great
athletes or because they were great athletes who had the highest of morals.
Those two were easy to want to emulate. They seemed to be living their lives
in such a way that it enhanced what they accomplished on the field.
I was a huge New York Yankees fan. Years later I was devastated to learn
that Mickey Mantle was a woman-chasing alcoholic throughout most of his
career. I guess you could say it opened my eyes. Truth is, it burst my bubble
In today’s post-911, Internet-driven, sometimes morally-bankrupt world,
finding heroes in sports is tough to do. If the standard is someone who is
both a great athlete and a great person, well, good luck.
I think that is one reason why college sports are so popular. It seems more
innocent, somehow, to watch these young people compete and it seems easier
to pull for them. Maybe it is because the corruption that seems to come from
the pro sports world has not yet grabbed them.
Then, again, maybe they just have not had the white hot spotlight hit
That brings me to the Duke lacrosse team. It remains to be seen if anyone is
guilty of rape and sexual assault. But they are guilty of something. They
are guilty at the very least of putting themselves in a situation that led
to something much worse.
Remember what your parents told you about that? It is hard to be accused of
something bad if you are careful not to put yourself in a position to be
It may not be possible to always avoid controversy but in this particular
case it almost seems as if the Duke players were asking for trouble.
Of course somebody is lying. Now it will be up to a jury to decide who. If
it is the girl who claims she was raped, there has been a grave injustice
done to the players. If the players are lying, they deserve to go to jail for
a long time.
The Duke lacrosse team is no different than many other athletic programs at
the amateur and professional level. What started out as a night of fun,
albeit with a questionable agenda, turned out to be a night that has ruined
It appears there was a culture intact that made this just another Saturday
night for these guys. After previous warnings that his team was out of
control, the team’s coach, Mike Pressler, was forced into resignation when this
Now civil rights leaders want to call this an act of racism. The prosecutor
is saying these are privileged, spoiled kids who were willing to perform the
ultimate act of humiliation on a less fortunate young lady.
We may never know the real truth but a court of law will have to decide.
Meanwhile another little piece of our respect for sports dies.
The truth is that we can no longer hold athletes to a higher standard. Human
frailty may even be enhanced by the pedestal that athletes enjoy.
Where have you gone Bobby and Roger?
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This page updated
04/21/08 07:05 PM.