It’s been over 20 years since NBA legend Charles Barkley first uttered his now infamous claim to not be anyone’s role model. In the process, Barkley debunked a long-standing belief amongst the public that professional athletes were people for children to look up to, and even aspire to be. The truth of the matter was always a little more complicated than that. Sure there were some professional athletes who were outstanding human beings, guys like Roger Staubach, who were pillars of society both on and off the field. But, of course, there were guys who were the opposite, men like Ty Cobb or Babe Ruth, who’s on-field exploits were certainly to be admired, but not so much the way they lived their lives. So, when today’s superstars decide to act up, it hardly comes as a surprise. Although it doesn’t make it any less upsetting.
My first, and most recent example of this type of behavior is New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez and his battle with Major League Baseball over his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. If you believe MLB, they have a pile of evidence against A-Rod, enough, in fact, that they want to suspend him for over 200 games (or roughly one-and-a-half seasons). If you believe Rodriguez, which no one seems to do, he’s an innocent victim of a conspiracy of an MLB witch hunt. I am firmly in the first camp. Every other player in the Biogenesis accepted their suspension, and went on their way. But not A-Rod. No, the former “greatest player in the game” stands to lose millions of dollars if he is suspended, so he’s choosing to fight a battle he can’t win. Can’t say I’m surprised. Despite his attempts to come off as a role-model superstar, Rodriguez has seemed shady ever since he jumped ship in Seattle, and took hundreds of millions of dollars to play for Texas. I suspect, ultimately, that because of his age and the case against him, Rodriguez will end up suspended, and it will be the last time we see him on an MLB field.
The second person making headlines recently is Rodriguez’s polar opposite age wise, but that does not stop him from spending most of his time acting like the world revolves around him. I’m talking about Heisman trophy winner and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. Ever since Manziel won college football’s most coveted individual honor, he has seemingly been everywhere, done everything, and left a path of destruction in his wake. His latest problem: he supposedly was paid money to sign autographs, which is a huge no-no in the NCAA’s book, and could lead to him being suspended for part of the upcoming season. If there’s one thing A-Rod and Manziel share, it is their arrogance. Both of them seem to do as they please, no matter what affect it might have on their team, or the world around them. I suspect this is the case with Manziel. I would, in no way, be surprised to learn he took money for anything. Despite the fact he comes from a wealthy family and does not need the money, I could imagine him taking is just because he was irked by an antiquated NCAA regulation of players controlling their own image. Multiple times last year, his own father complained about how the NCAA could profit from his last name but he could not. In other words, if they were offered the chance to make a little money, why wouldn’t they take it?