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The Breakdown: Finding perspective

BRYCE EVANS
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado
Sports editor Bryce Evans
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At times, it’s nice to try to put things into their proper perspective – or at least bring them back down to earth a bit.

In the last couple weeks, it hasn’t been too pretty for professional sports. Really, it’s almost seemed like every sports page or Sportscenter segment is simply trying to give people reasons to not like pro athletes.

First, there was Big Mac admitting that he put a lot of things into his body that were actually more unnatural than the sandwich he got his nickname from. Then, Gilbert Arenas’s remake of “Unforgiven” played out in the Washington Wizards locker room and all over TV. Throw in that soft-spoken ex-NFL wide receiver Marvin Harrison is being investigated by the FBI for an alleged shooting incident, and it was, all in all, a pretty ugly stretch in sports.

Don’t worry, though, this isn’t going to be a column griping about the idiocy and irresponsible actions of pro athletes. As I said a few paragraphs up: Sometimes, it’s a good thing to get a good perspective on how things are actually playing out.

After all, each of those three incidents with athletes are 100 percent related.

Confused? That’s OK; I live the majority of my life feeling that way.

My point here is that these incidents all come from athletes with the exact same mindset as one another. Actually, it’s a mindset that the majority of pro athletes in all major leagues – MLB, NBA, NHL and NFL – tend to have.

It’s really pretty simple: Most athletes tend to not only think of themselves as above the rules or law but also as invincible.

(Note: I know that I’m generalizing and stereotyping here, but for the most part it’s true. There are some athletes who defy this theory, but they’re about as rare as an NBA player without a tattoo.)

I’m not trying to place blame on these athletes, because, after all, it’s not necessarily their fault.

I once had a conversation with a friend – a former NCAA Division I athlete for a top national program – about why the majority of players on the teams that he and I had played on in college tended to be pretty self-absorbed. It comes down to this: Top athletes are treated as special and better than their peers from the time that they’re little kids. It’s actually emphasized by a lot of coaches, parents and even teachers. Kids get rewarded for being the best at something and that builds confidence and, often, egos.

Now, these kids go to college, get to be the “Big Man (or Woman)” on campus for a few years, then get drafted into a pro league and are making millions of dollars before they’re old enough to rent a car.

When you think about it, it doesn’t even feel like it’s their fault that they have this warped sense of reality.

If you want to find a way to compare your mindset (or at least, lifestyle) to that of a high-paid pro athlete, go to ESPN.com and try out the site’s “Salary Cruncher.” It lets you choose an athlete, type in your yearly salary, and it compares your earnings to theirs. Basically, what it comes down to is that most of the athletes make more in one game of one season than most of us do in an entire calendar year. If you really want to feel sad about yourself, it gives the number of years it will take you to earn their salary.

When you take all of this into account, it’s almost (and I stress the word almost) easy to understand why these athletes do some of the things they do.

They think they’ll never get caught, and if somehow they do, they’ll ultimately get away with it. After all, nothing can affect them; they’re bulletproof.

That’s why they might think it’s fine to cheat the game and take PEDs or to bring guns into a locker room to “play a joke” on a teammate or open direct fire on someone in front of a business they own.

Athletes, by and large, have been given everything in their lives, and it makes them feel entitled. But the one thing they seem to always lack is perspective.

Bryce Evans can be reached at (970) 668-4634 or at bevans@summitdaily.com.


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