This week on the car radio, I overheard the most obnoxious sports radio talk show host furiously ranting and raving about how corrupt professional and big college sports have become. It went something like this: “Don’t let your kids idolize anyone in sports today! It’s an ugly business, full of greediness, lying, cheating, and everything that is wrong with this world. There are no role models in sports anymore!” To me, it was a shocking rant because his livelihood is made from talking about sports, yet there he was betraying his industry with the most extreme language. He didn’t “pull a punch” or let anyone off the hook. He explained with the utmost disgust that all professional and big college athletes, coaches, and executives are tainted by the money, the power, and the fame.
It troubled me as I thought of the players from my childhood who were my role models: Cal Ripken Jr., Lou Brock, John Stockton, Roger Staubach, and Walter Payton. I thought about some of the role models that I have in sports now: Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner, Albert Pujols, and others. Are they in some way corrupt too? Are they just putting on a show for the public? Or are they just the extreme minority — one of just a very few people in the sports industry who have stayed grounded in spite of all the corruption around them? Or is this radio host just off his rocker once again?