Frank Deford on the inanity of holding sports players up as role models. Pretty refreshing after all the bullshit about how Tiger Woods “let us down” by cheating on his wife. Aside from a handful of rubes who think this charade actually has something to do with morality, does anybody really care about who Tiger Woods is fucking? Of course not. The PGA (or NFL or NBA, etc.), along with its corporate sponsors, pretends publicly to be shocked, shocked by such immoral behavior while privately worrying only about when they can get back to making money. And Tiger Woods puts on a public display of penitence, in order to appease the PGA and its corporate sponsors, along with his own corporate sponsors, so he can get back to playing golf and making money (and probably screwing more porn stars). And the media, dutifully performing its role as PR flack for whoever happens to be running whatever show they’re reporting on, just parrots this nonsense.
But anyhow, back to Deford and role models. He asks a pretty good question that nobody ever seems to consider:
But why? Why, pray, of all people, are athletes, pretty much alone in our society, expected to be sweeter than the average angel? It is politicians and clergy and those maestros of finance on Wall Street who ought to be held to a higher standard. Why aren’t they ever called “role models?” Why can’t some tearful little impressionable tyke sob, “Say it ain’t so, Goldman Sachs, say it ain’t so” — and thus change the pecking order in our cultural mythology?
(Could it be that these other people are considered to be so thoroughly corrupt that even the most impressionable nitwit would laugh out loud at the suggestion of making them paragons of good behavior?)
Or, as that great critic of American cultural stupidity, George Carlin, put it:
“If your kid needs a role model and you ain’t it, you’re both fucked.”