Sports stars make poor models for life decisions

by Connor Danik and Arielle Zuaro
It can take a lifetime of hard work to make a statement in the world of sports, and it can all be shattered in a matter of moments. An athlete’s fall from grace is as much affected by his act of infamy as his rise to glory.
Legendary athletes have been idolized despite their downfalls  through violence, the use of illicit substances and exploitation in social media, setting poor examples for fans.

Social Media 
Social networking, an essential part of everyday life, has become another channel for athletes to expose themselves both positively and negatively.
Manti Te’o, Notre Dame linebacker was a victim of catfishing. Te’o had an online girlfriend who turned out to be a guy impersonating a girl. The story broke the news when reportedly passed away after Te’o’s grandmother had passed. There were accusations that Te’o might have fabricated the story to receive attention from the public. Te’o denies that he knew anything about his girlfriend being fake or who was behind it.
“Athletes have to be careful about social media because everybody tracks them and is more judgmental of their actions. It’s also easy for people to criticize them, and for athletes to start believing the negative comments,” said junior James Schetelich.
In a society reliant on media sources and obsessed with documenting every status update, athletes are left vulnerable to backlash and intense criticism from those who observe their actions. They must be aware of the fact that scrutiny is a constant factor in their lives.
Brett Favre, retired NFL quarterback, sent texts to two former  massage therapists for the New York Jets suggesting sexual intentions with the two of them. Along with allegedly harassing two employees, Favre also has been accused of sending pictures of his genitals to Jenn Sterger, ex-Playboy model and former Jets cheerleader.
Some athletes don’t know how control themselves, and social media put professional and collegiate stars in a precarious position.
 
Violence
Oscar Pistorius, a South African track star turned national hero, has been accused of killing his 26-year-old girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius, a double-leg amputee, competed in the men’s 400-meter and four × 400- meter relay races in the London Olympics. He was made famous after competing with special carbon fiber blades in place of more traditional prosthetic limbs, earing the nickname “Blade Runner.”
People around the world remember Pistorius carrying the South African flag at the opening ceremonies. Now, Pistorius’s track career has been suspended as he awaits trial, and Nike and Oakley have canceled their endorsement deals with him.
“He still is a world-class runner and I respect him as an athlete, but his image is ruined after inspiring so many people in the Olympics,” said sophomore Dan Dill.
Drug Use
Performance-enhancing drugs are illegal in virtually every recognized sport.
Yet, in cycling,  more than a third of the top finishers in the Tour de France since 1998 have been associated with the use of banned substances, according to The New York Times.
Lance Armstrong, who was recently stripped of his seven Tour de France titles by the U.S. Anti Doping Agency, disappointed the nation by admitting to the use of performance-enhancing drugs like human growth hormone (HGH) while competing.
“Armstrong let down society because he was a figure known worldwide for his accomplishments. Admitting to cheating ruined not only his reputation, but the sport of cycling’s reputation,” said junior Jacob Arkin.
After battling testicular, lung and brain cancer, Armstrong founded the Livestrong Foundation, which inspired many cancer sufferers to persevere and find hope. After achieving status as an underdog who fought back to attain glory, Armstrong’s actions appear especially disgraceful.
Brian Cushing is another athlete who couldn’t keep the secret hidden. In 2010, the Houston Texans linebacker tested positive for HGH and received a four-game suspension, which threatened the Defensive Rookie of the Year, award Cushing won the previous season.  Cushing claimed that he is a victim of Over-Training Athlete Syndrome (OTAS), a condition that causes the body to build up testosterone and makes HGH appear in a urine test.
Cushing’s argument for testing positive will go in the record books for one of the most creative excuses for performance-enhancing drugs ever.