How are athletes doing as role models these days? You decide. Let's see what messages the jock set has been sending to the kids lately.
You can smoke marijuana and still be a good athlete. The kids have learned a lot of things from Randy Moss over the years — i.e., it isn't necessary to give your best effort all the time, and when you're down and out just give up. Now Moss says smoking marijuana is "fun." He says he still smokes it "every blue moon" (he might be smoking more than marijuana if he's seeing a blue moon).
The kids can use the same rationale as Moss — "As far as abusing it, and, you know, letting it take control over me, I don't do that." Mr. Moss tried the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do routine when he said, "I don't want any kids watching this taking a lesson from me as far as, 'Well, Randy Moss used it so I'm going to use it.' I don't want that to get across."
Stay in school. Wide receiver Steve Savoy left the University of Utah after his sophomore season last winter thinking he would be a high-round draft choice. Bad move. He didn't get drafted. The Detroit Lions cut him last week after he was signed as a free agent. Why the Lions — a team loaded with receivers — would sign him in the first place is a mystery, unless it has something to do with the fact that Lions assistant coach Fred Graves is a former Ute coach.
Ask Kyle Whittingham if Savoy should have stayed in school, and the coach says, "Do I think?! I told him he should stay another year at least. I told him 10 times. I told him till I was blue in the face. I said, 'Are you sure you want to do this? This is huge.' " Nobody ever learns. Luke Staley and John Walsh left school early and wound up selling phones and tools, respectively.
Not only will drugs not harm your athletic performance, they can help it, and many players don't think it's cheating. Rafael Palmeiro took steroids. So did Tim Montgomery. So did many Olympic athletes. Several pro athletes have tested positive for steroids. Those are just the ones we know about. Palmeiro has hit more than 500 home runs and Montgomery set a world record in the 100-meter dash. Think the kids aren't putting two and two together? No one should be surprised that steroids are in our high schools?
For a female to truly garner real attention in sports, she needs to be a babe, no matter how talented she is. Hence, the instant popularity of Michelle Wie, Maria Sharapova and Danica Patrick, who proved the point by posing for photos in a bathing suit while draping herself over a car. Patrick is not the first female race car driver, but she is the best looking and now the most famous. It's the Anna Kournikova Factor — style and beauty over substance.
It's OK to lie, or at least stonewall. "I have never used steroids, period!" Palmeiro told Congress. Oops, the drug test says differently. Maybe he should have followed Mark McGwire's lead: Move your lips but don't say anything.
If you do the crime, you probably won't do the time, or not much. Please, see the BALCO scandal (cut a deal and you're home free) and the NHL's Todd Bertuzzi, whose vicious, cowardly blindside assault left Steve Moore with a broken neck. His suspension: A total of 20 games.
If you don't like something, or you're just having a bad day, push someone around, and you'll feel better, like Kenny Rogers and David Wells.
The decisions you make as a teenager can profoundly affect your life. Sione Havili, who firebombed a house and went to prison years ago, was denied a spot on the University of Utah football team because of his criminal history. Now he is suing the Utes — while playing football for Weber State. Apparently, he believes playing sports for a university is a right, not a privilege.
Don't believe everything you see. Thanks to the cynicism bred by revelations of widespread steroid use, every great athletic performance breeds suspicion of drug use. Wonder has been replaced by another type of wonder.
If you're talented, you never have to grow up and you can act up as badly as you want, because someone will always be anxious to give you a job. How else would you explain Moss and Terrell Owens?