Athletes and Precedents: Fans, media often put too much pressure on athletes, should recognize athletes can make mistakes

As an avid fan of professional sports, I have always observed how the media, or even the public as a whole, scrutinizes athletes when they make a certain wrongdoing. Today, professional athletes are met with extreme pressure and are essentially put under a lense by fans and media everywhere; these athletes are forced to act as impeccable role models for children and fans all across the world, but the reality is that athletes everywhere are expected to reach a precedent that is set by the public. People should be more forgiving of athletes’ mistakes because the truth is, they are people too.

Countless crimes are committed by normal citizens, but time and time again, we see players absolutely clobbered for simple mistakes or even rumors. We should remember that we’re the ones who pushed the cameras into their lives, and that their lives are flawed. For example, Josh Gordon, an NFL player that violated the substance abuse policy for having marijuana in his system, was swarmed by sports outlets such as ESPN, Bleacher Report, and Fox Sports. In Bleacher Report, Gordon was labeled as a “drug addict,” and someone who has been a recurring problem in the league for a while now; however, Gordon has sought continuous mental health and anxiety treatment from the NFL but has been denied time and time again. As expected, the media blew this act well out of proportion by demeaning Gordon for his occasional drug use but not mentioning the repeated instances in which Gordon sought help and was denied.

Perhaps the media is partially to blame for the repercussions of this latest episode. It seems the media can play a two-faced role. First, it can build up celebrities and athletes into community-serving, role-model superheroes, but then—in an instant—it can change the perception of these “superheroes” to evil people with the click of a button.

But, professional athletes should be aware of the public’s tendency to idolize sports stars and thus be aware of the added responsibility on their shoulder. At the same time, we as spectators can’t expect God-like behavior from all players. Just like average citizens, some will be tempted to commit a wrongdoing. We are given the luxury of watching these athletes compete at the top of their field. As fans and people, we need to find the morality within us to give these athletes a break. When it comes to events such as Gordon’s, the precedent is just simply too high.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Satvik Kandru at [email protected]