The American people place athletes on a pedestal. In High School, when they have nothing, teachers will give them the grades they need to pass. Coaches will let them dictate the team. In some cases, students will help them forge test scores. When they get to college, they are treated like royalty. Female students are desperate for their affection, and male students admire their in-game play. They are allowed to act as if they are a step above everyone else on life's totem pole. For instance, athletes at Stanford University are given a list of easy courses to take, such as Social Dances of North America III, that are used as GPA boosters. By the time they make it to the professional ranks, there is no controlling their ego. Cam Newton, for example, told Peter King at the NFL Scouting Combine that he sees himself an entertainer and icon, without mention of being a Super Bowl champion or Hall of Fame Player.
In addition to criminal allegations, we are going through an era where cheating is growing rampant, and athletes are steadily finding new ways to get ahead. Bruce Irvin and Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks were accused of using the drug adderall to enhance in-game performance. Of the great home run hitters of baseball history, many of them are steroid users: Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez, and Jose Canseco, to name a few. A quote from the greatest cyclist of all time, Lance Armstrong: "It is impossible to win the Tour De France without doping." Its unfortunate that athletes think like this, but it is becoming the norm.
Hall Of Fame Running Back and Heisman Trophy Winner OJ Simpson was involved in perhaps the most famous car chase and murder trial of all time. He was found not guilty for the double murder of his ex-wife and her boyfriend, but is currently serving a prison sentence for essentially stealing back his own stuff from another person's house. Although he was fortunate enough to stay out of jail after the first time he was charged with a felony, he proceeded to commit another a decade later. In the case of Aaron Hernandez, people are not as optimistic about his future. The evidence is overwhelming and he is in serious danger. He is not being granted bail, he has been released by the Patriots, and not to mention, he has a wife and kid at home.
So, before you proclaim a famous athlete as your idol or role model, it is necessary to ask yourself a few questions:
1. Does this athlete's life outside of sports reflect that of a responsible person?
2. Are they going beyond ethical boundaries to compete at the highest level?
3. Is this athlete leading a double life as a violent criminal?