In 8-10 years my son will be developing normal boyhood crushes on star athletes. If my evil plan works and my son is as huge a baseball fan as I am, his crushes will be on baseball players. I find myself wondering what these athletes will mean to my son. What will they represent? What will they teach?
In 8-10 years, John Lackey, Jon Lester, and Josh Beckett will be out of the game, retired, and free to eat as much chicken and drink as much beer as they’d like. But they will be replaced. They’ll be replaced by others who stand defiantly by the philosophy that athletes are not role models. These new athletes will further the concept that baseball and life are separate. Two things that should never be intermingled. These players, like those of today, will continue to be wrong.
What many, not all, but many, players forget is that they’re not entitled because they can swing the bat or throw a ball. They forget that they’re always representing the club. They’re always representing the league. And they’re always playing for the fans, no one else. In a public job, employees are always the face of their employer. In private jobs, this often rings true too. Anything a player does that the fans see represents not just that player but the league.
I know I sound like a cynical, disenfranchised fan. But the truth is far from that. I will continue to watch the games. I will continue to enjoy the sport. I simply will not respect the players who walk all over that respect. Unfortunately, my son will not have that type of restraint or have the decision-making skills to choose who he roots for and idolizes. Not at 8. Not at 10.
So, in the future, when my son is old enough to become a fanatic, I can only hope the players he loves are worthy of that love. I don’t expect all players to be saints. I don’t have a problem with forgiving players who earn that forgiveness (and not just by their performances on the field). What I hope for is just a collective rejection of behavior that shatters the faith and respect we all have in these players.
My son’s role models will be others than just myself (no matter how much I’d like that to be true). It will be my job to weed out those role models not worthy of his admiration.