I never cease to be amazed by how much becoming a father changed my outlook on life.
The one thing on this earth that comes close to my love and enjoyment of my family is my passion for sports. The news this month has been particularly negative in this world I escape to for enjoyment. First there was the image destruction that Michael Phelps was able to do in just six short months after he was the story of the Olympics, capturing much of America’s attention and adoration. What felt like only hours after that news had made its rounds came the information that for three years Alex Rodriguez used steroids to be arguably the best baseball player in the world.
The sad part is that these are just the two highest profile negative sports stories among many options. Locally here in greater Rochester there is a smaller story of a local high school that felt it necessary to suspend its hockey coach for actions it deemed inappropriate. All these acts follow up Michael Vick, Pacman Jones, Larry Johnson, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and on and on. A high school coach, Michael Phelps, and (even though I dislike the Yankees) Alex Rodriguez all seem like they would be above these failings. And yet they were exposed as individuals I would not want my son looking up to.
This got me thinking, oddly enough, of my childhood. That was when I began this unhealthy admiration and enjoyment of sports. Back then I was more naïve and looked up to the figures in the sports world much more than I do now. While my son is only 8 months and much too young to know about these recent short comings, I am sure when he gets older there will be individuals he looks up to that fail him. I am even more certain that there are thousands of young people right now who see the different forms of illegal drug use and have questions as to who and why we admire these people.
One of my first thought was “Man, I really hope I do not let my son down like that.” Then I started thinking of how I would explain all of the cheating, poor sportsmanship, and off the field idiocy that seems to dominate the current sports news cycle. I love baseball probably more than any other sport. It still brings a smile to my face that pitchers and catchers have begun reporting to spring training. Yet this month’s news was a huge reminder of how screwed up and dirty the sport was (and in all honesty probably still is). How do you explain to a impressionable child that cheating is wrong, when just recently we were reminded that 104 players failed steroid tests they knew were coming less than six years ago?
My thoughts kept coming back to this: I hope that my son has the same enjoyment that I get from the sporting world, but I hope that he looks to me for a role model rather than these individuals that seem to let us down. I hope that I am ready to be worthy of being looked up to. I hope we will have numerous happy memories together and share enough moments that he will be happy and well adjusted even when he is let down by those he thought were worthy of looking up to.
I probably have some work to do to prepare for this challenge. It is time to “step up” and be men worthy of being admired by our children and not have them be as let down by these “heroes.”
Image by: Steve Todey, SXC
Ben Loux is father of two and husband of one (it works well that way). He makes his home in the Rochester, NY, area.