12/21/07 — Heroes lost: Steroids scandals have tarnished athletes’ honor

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Heroes lost: Steroids scandals have tarnished athletes’ honor

This hasn’t been a good year for heroes.

With every announcement of every tarnished name — from an Olympic runner to baseball’s stars and legends — the light that has surrounded so many athletes has begun to dim.

The reason is steroid use.

It is difficult to figure out why someone would risk his or her future by doping. The immediate benefits seem not to be worth the potential for a career-ending scandal. It would be better to lose honorably and to earn star billing only rarely — but honestly.

The problem must be that there is so much pressure to be faster, stronger and leaner that these men and women feel they have no choice. They feel they need the boost if they want to be competitive and to earn the money endorsements provide.

But in so doing, many of them have sacrificed their health, reputations and, most importantly, their honor.

And the unintended consequence is that — these days — it isn’t easy to come up with a sports hero to whom a parent can point as an example of a man or woman of integrity and honor.

And that should leave us all asking — where have all the Lou Gehrigs gone?

Modern athletes are much like modern celebrities — full of bravado and overpuffed by their fame. They make decisions that are suspect — and they make pronouncements of what is proper and right and then proceed to ignore those warnings in their own lives.

We have created a cult of personality that has replaced the values by which we judge goodness in others with starstruck idolatry.

So, we should not be surprised that the heroes we once revered are “gone with the wind.”

Published in Editorials on December 21, 2007 10:13 AM