Ok, I must admit yesterday, I was reading some pro blogs and I came across two which not only impressed me but helped me to put a more positive spin on professional sports figures in my mind. I was happy to see two standup pro ball players who seem to be well rounded people as well, Kevin Slowey and Collin Balester.
Once in my lifetime, I held the sometimes unimportant role of a sports reporter. Many people I
knew always asked how cool was it to be around these sports figures and I often just shrugged my shoulders and said it’s two fold, bad and good. I would tell people that ignorance is bliss and what they didn’t know allowed them to enjoy the game in a way I couldn’t.
Plain and simple, I like so many other sports reporters get to see what most the time the general public does not and sometimes it’s good and sometimes you wish you hadn’t seen it. Just because someone is a pro-sports player doesn’t automatically make them a good person or a bad one. They are all just like everyone else. Imagine your favorite player and how you always root and cheer for this person. Imagine how you want to be like or maybe even have your children emulate. They can do no wrong. Now imagine this player who always seems to be kissing his wife and the perfect family man is actually paying a co-ed fan $100 bucks a week to keep her happy and “be” with him when he’s in town.
Imagine walking out of a press-player function very late and watching as a teammate is keeping look out as another is cheating on his wife in the back of his SUV. You just saw him in a magazine the other day talking about family life and success.
You get to see how a player has no regard for any fans because they are a nuisance and don’t care about that individual no matter the situation or circumstance.
Imagine the leader of your team who is legendary and is a complete *** of a person. He may be hall of fame quality on the field but a jerk when he leaves the stadium.You walked behind him as he and a teammate ridiculed a fan nearby, who minding her own business, was wearing an outfit they thought was funny.
This is not to say there are not good players who are good people. There are. I have seen some of the classiest people who are pro-players. You see them jump up to grab a tray of drinks from a waitress at a team event. You see them stop and chat and maybe give a tip or two to a fan. They are quick to help anyone even if it does slow them up or if they can’t stop. They are as classy as possible in apologizing to the person and any human can understand. They volunteer and give back to the community and never have their agent put out a presser to show what they are doing.
So I was happy to read two blogs of men who seem to fit the classy
profile. http://kevinslowey.mlblogs.com and http://collinbalester.mlblogs.com I have to admit I don’t follow either of their teams in any depth but I genuinely wish them success in their careers. For a major leauger to respond to every question every fan asked or the other blogging on daily life and family and faith says to me they are beyond themselves and most likely good men and teammates.
Many sports writers I have talked to say they do not necessarily root for a certain team as much as they do individuals. I understand, because something inside of you can’t help but cheer for the good guy no matter who he plays for (woman as well).
Now, would I ever report anything I have ever seen off the field? Absolutely not. Those things will stay with me because I was never paid to write or cover those issues. I was paid to cover the athlete and that’s what I did. It’s a well known rule of journalism to never burn your source but it goes beyond that. Writers who covered characters like Babe Ruth kept their stories to the field, and off it, almost never mentioned his indiscretions. Everyone knew he would party the night away doing God knows what, but his national reputation during most of his ball playing years was of a homerun crusher not womanizer.
A guy like Ruth today would never survive the scrutiny of paparazzi and outrageous journalism. Guys like Slowey and Balester I’m sure may miss out on the outrageous press but in the end of their careers you’ll probably be able to give their memoirs to your son or daughter to read with confidence.