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A look at today’s athletes as roles models

Who can we believe in anymore?

It seems like everywhere we look another “sporting hero” falls due to scandal or controversy. Where has the clean athlete gone? Maybe we just shouldn’t make athletes role models anymore?

With New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter retiring, he may well as be the last clean athlete in sports. Let’s be honest — what was the last bad thing you heard about Jeter other than that he is a Yankee.

Possibly the greatest athlete of our generation, Tiger Woods, won 14 majors and 71 times on the PGA Tour and had a crystal-clear image before crashing his Escalade at his home in Orlando on Thanksgiving night of 2009, which opened a media circus revealing his extramarital affair with multiple women while married to his then-wife Elin Nordegren.

Lance Armstrong, the so-called “greatest cyclist of all time,” inspired so many after his battle with testicular cancer and winning seven straight Tour De Frances, but all he was was a fraud. His charity, with the help of Nike, launched the Livestrong Foundation and created so much excitement around just a yellow silicone wristband, but that meant nothing when Nike, and all of Armstrong’s sponsors, dropped him.

Maybe there is still hope for another clean athlete, but the list continues to go on with those who made mistakes in their lives and tarnished their reputation.

Kobe Bryant won three titles in Los Angeles before being accused of rape charges in Colorado. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa made baseball cool again after the strike of 1994 and captivated Americans with the home run chase in 1998, hitting 70 and 66 home runs, respectively, only to be caught with steroid use in the Mitchell Report in 2007. Pete Rose, Major League Baseball’s all-time hit leader with 4,256 hits, gambled on baseball games while playing for and managing the Cincinnati Reds. Michael Vick re-created the NFL quarterback position but chose that dog fighting was more important than Super Bowls.

Now, we are at a point where four NFL players (Greg Hardy, Ray Rice, Ray McDonald and Adrian Peterson) are under investigation for hitting either a woman or a child. How much lower could we get?

The worst thing, in most scenarios, is that we forgive them without question so quickly after their admission of guilt.

Bryant was third in NBA jersey sales this season, according to Forbes’ Maury Brown. Throngs of people follow Woods around the golf course more than ever before, and after Nike dropped Vick for his dogfighting charges, the brand re-signed Vick four years later.

By no means am I perfect, but if you’re a professional athlete, you will and have to be held at a higher standard.

So what does the future hold?

Johnny Manziel? I’ll pass … and it might be time for all of us to move on from letting our sports “heroes” let us down time and time again.

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