Thursday, February 11, 2010

On Athletes.....

A professional athlete is a professional athlete. He or she should not be taken to be anything more than this. An athlete with good character is incidental to what he or she is. I think it commendable to see athletes with the utmost in character grace a given sport, but that is not why I, or anybody else for that matter, should watch them.

I watch them strictly because they are good at throwing or hitting a ball, they can run like the dickens, they can shoot a puck at lightning speed, they exude almost inhuman hand/eye control, etc. They should not be viewed to see good character. Please, for the love of God, stop complaining about athletes' tacky behavior! Understand what they are and consider it mere happenstance if they possess good character! If you want a good role model for your impressionable children, seek elsewhere!* Find the “Mr. Rogers” of your neighborhood and have your young ones hang out with him! Of course I know you won't do this because he can't throw or catch a ball as well as the top athletes and as a result is pretty lame

So at this point it becomes clear you are not prioritizing your child's character development, you are prioritizing his or her development of athletic skills. And there is nothing wrong with this.

Many will likely be angry with this view. It will be claimed that there are plenty of athletes with exceptional character. It needs to be pointed out that I never claimed there were not! But like I said, this is incidental to why they are watched! If an athlete was not good at throwing or catching a ball or whatever else, would he still be watched? Of course not! He is watched only because he is a good athlete! His exceptional character is but a fringe benefit to his amazing athletic prowess!

If society claims it follows an athlete because of his first class character, would society still follow him if he was the same person minus his athletic ability? If society says it would not follow him, at this point it is clear athletic ability is the only reason said athlete is watched. Of course if he had no athletic talent he certainly would not be playing a professional sport and as such would not be in any position to be watched!

If society says it would follow him even if he was not an athlete, then this suggests spectator sports to be obsolete. For if first class character was society's only requirement for watching people, there would be no need to assemble in stadiums to watch athletes! We could much more easily and cheaply canvass our neighborhoods and hunt down people with first class character to “watch”.

Of course this is absurd! My point is it is athleticism not character that attracts us! If one claims he follows the athletes with the utmost in character, this does not mean he prioritizes good character, rather he simply prioritizes athletes that happen to have the most character. Referencing other writings of mine regarding ideals, I feel compelled to point out that prioritizing athletes with the most character should not be taken to mean prioritizing character. If it was, one should be compelled to watch anybody with utmost character! I suspect we would find most of the first class characters out there to be overly dull and boring! So why would we watch them?

Is my view negative? I don't think so at all. If one stakes his hope in athletes being first class characters, he will be let down frequently. This will inevitably lead to resentment, disappointment and complaining, in large part due to the ego asserting its self-righteous superiority. I see this as negative. Watching athletes for their abilities, and nothing more, I can turn the other cheek when they engage in tacky behavior. I see this as positive.

*Now it could be supposed that an athlete's contract requires certain behavior. In all likelihood though, this would simply require the athlete to abstain from "poor" behavior. Firstly, this would only serve to discourage poor behavior as opposed to requiring good behavior. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, anything designed to "manipulate" an athlete not to behave "improperly" would seem to undermine any notion of "good" character.

Once again, if it is good character you seek, please, steer clear of athletes!

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