Minus the Cubs, it’s been a pretty rough month for Chicago sports.
More specifically, it’s been a rough month for the two biggest athletes in Chicago sports.
It started earlier this month when the world found out Blackhawks winger and the city’s favorite party boy, Patrick Kane, was under investigation for an alleged sexual assault incident in his hometown of Buffalo, NY. The investigation remains ongoing, and it’s already led to EA Sports removing Kane from their NHL ’16 cover.
Then, lightning struck twice Wednesday night when a TMZ Sports report surfaced that Derrick Rose is being accused of drugging and gang raping an ex-girlfriend.
It’s a lot to try and comprehend as a Chicago sports fan, but it’s a valuable reminder of two prominent issues we have in sports today. And more importantly, the lessons we can learn from them.
The first is to reserve judgment or conclusion until the legal process plays out, just like any other court proceeding.
It’s because of the second issue, our infatuation with idolizing these athletes, that sports fans today can’t help but break the first. However, the legal situations of Derrick Rose and Patrick Kane prove why it’s completely ridiculous to idolize athletes (regardless of what ‘due process’ determines).
I understand this because I grew up admiring these champions as well, hoping to one day be just like them.
Athletes are filthy rich and we’re reminded of that every morning on Instagram.
Athletes live a life of glamour and luxury that gets thrown in our face daily as we sit in our cubicles and eat bologna sandwiches.
Athletes possess unbound talents that less than .001 percent of the world possess, and we’re stuck at home putting golf balls in our jean shorts.
Those three feelings represent the reason that athletes are celebrated and vilified in equal fashion. Because, quite simply, professional athletes are human beings.
And guess what? Human beings make mistakes.
Now, it’s still unproven whether Patrick Kane and Derrick Rose committed transgressions incomprehensible to both conscious and law. But if anything has become abundantly clear, it’s that the mere presence of their names in these heartbreaking situations is every reason to view them for what they are.
They’re special athletes, but they’re not special people.
Just because athletes have access to things we don’t, doesn’t mean they won’t fuck it all up. Having access doesn’t make you cool. It’s supposed to make you aware, something both Patrick Kane and Derrick Rose may have failed to realize. But in the midst of their irresponsibility, we as fans must be accountable for our own transgressions.
We are constantly putting professional athletes on a pedestal. And it’s wrong. I’ve fallen victim to it, but as I grow older and wiser, I’ve begun to see the bigger picture.
It all stems from something my dad taught me at a young age.
Growing up, I was never encouraged to idolize athletes for their accolades on the field, but rather their reputation off of it.
Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. He was also a degenerate gambler and adulterer.
Floyd Mayweather is one of the richest and most successful active athletes in the world. He’s also a known domestic abuser.
Hell, Tom Brady has been the NFL’s poster child for the better part of a decade, and even he finds himself entangled with controversy (as trivial as it may be).
We turn a blind eye because of what we see on television, and because we love watching them do their job. But blindly idolizing these athletes, and desperately coveting the celebrity lifestyle they have is so very wrong, on so many levels.
If anything, Patrick Kane and Derrick Rose’s situations have taught us that everyone from the brightest stars to the hometown hero can make mistakes.
Guilty or not, it’s a stark reminder that no one in professional sports is more than just another human being.
Maybe it’s time we start viewing them as such.