Sport itself is good for us, and the best sports are genuine metaphors for life – and many of the very best sportsman absorb their sport’s life lessons to become better human beings. But to be good at sports is no guarantee of being good at life. And the commentators who insist that sportsmen and women are “role models” do us all a disservice – and, if taken seriously, would require these heroes and heroines to live their lives for others instead of themselves, and to live them as if they were cardboard cut-outs and not the real flesh-and-blood human beings they are.
Real flesh and blood human beings don’t all go home after a big game to a nice currant bun and a dry sherry with the vicar. They go out sometimes and party, to enjoy themselves, to let off steam, to meet up with friends and teammates to carouse and debate and dance and argue and have fun (you remember fun, don’t you?); and sometimes – just sometimes -- like all of us --they do things they may regret in the morning – about which these people whom the media make into something they’re not are compelled to deliver mawkish apologies some time later that only their sponsors and small children generally believe.
Sometimes too these flesh-and-blood sportsmen will do things that are against the law. And some of those times it might be worth recognising that the media, on our behalf, are measuring these young men and women against a ridiculous standard – that we should insist the media commentators themselves should grow up -- and that it is the law itself that is an ass.
So good on Herald writer Chris Rattue (a line I’m sure I’ve never written before) for reminding readers that:
At this point, Ali Williams and James O'Connor, two former test rugby stars, are guilty of nothing having been arrested on cocaine charges in Paris. And guilty of nothing they are, whatever the outcome.
Has there ever been a more futile, damaging legal line than the ridiculous war on drugs?
It has created so many victims, in so many ways. Prohibition, as it inevitably does, has created a disaster it can't solve.
Role models? Better for us all to grow up, and for commentators to explain to punters that admiring someone for one thing theyu they do doesn’t necessitate admiring every thing they do – and that these people are simply human beings like us who in their chosen trade can often so some super-human things. And those are the things we should, and do, admire them for.