Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Off to the Naughty Mat!

I am an avid fan of track and field, among other sports. As a runner though, I particularly enjoy watching athletes race at speeds I will never, ever reach. So as a fan, the news of doping allegations against Justin Gatlin and Marion Jones really troubled me. These allegations came just as I was digesting the Floyd Lndis scandal. Unfortunately for sports fans, there has been no shortage of bad boy (or girl) behavior from the sports world. In recent weeks, rather than headlines about home runs, touchdowns and birdies, we have been treated to items about weapons charges, child molestation, rehab and manager with bloodied noses. Sadly the sports section is beginning to resemble the crime beat.

I realize that the world itself has become a different place, so it is inevitable that all facets of society will be impacted, but must it be that way. What message are we sending to our children? We encourage our young people to dream big and work hard so that they can achieve greatness and inspire others. We teach them that success and good citzenship are intertwined. Yet, public figures seem to spit in the face of this logic.

JonBenet Ramsay's alleged murderer has received rock star media attention. Mel Gibson drives drunk and denigrates the Jews and receives a publicity blitz bigger than any of his film openings. Pitchers hit their manager in the nose and it hits the front page of the papers. In this country, it would appear, in spite of what we teach, bad behavior is rewarded.

It is easy to blame the media and they certainly have some responsibility, but we must share the blame. We continue to watch, read, listen and comment on bad news items. Certainly, the public is deserving to be made aware of many of these situations, but must we be bombarded with them daily? I think we would all benefit from a little less of the bad and a little more of the good. Instead of hearing about every nuance of a murderer's life, why not treat the public to stories of hope, survival and good behavior? If we shift the balance, even a little, I believe that we and our children will benefit in the end.

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