Athletes, apologies don’t mix

David Roman

I apologize to the fans who supported me, my family and all those who have been hurt by my actions.

I am ashamed of what I have done and will reflect on what I need to do to be a better person. 

I made a mistake, and I never will do it again. I didn’t know they were steroids, I thought they were vitamins. I was dared to sleep with the same amount of women as championships I have won, and you never back down from a dare, especially if it is a “triple dog” dare. 

Now, the last one of these is fake, but wouldn’t you have rather had Tiger Woods say this instead of the robotic apology he delivered after cheating on his wife with half the state of Rhode Island?

We hear apologies from athletes almost daily now, and they almost always seem contrite and staged. From David Ortiz about steroids, to Michael Vick about dog fighting, to Serena Williams going Bobby Knight at the lines judge, each statement seems like  Mad Libs, where the athlete simply inserts the words that fit their misconduct. Rarely do we see or feel the emotion of regret from these athletes, a plea to the world that shows from the depths of their hearts that they are sorry. However, this truly isn’t their fault, but the public’s, because we wouldn’t believe them even if they got on their hands and knees and begged for our forgiveness. It truly doesn’t matter what they say or how they say it because once they make a mistake, like Orlando Bloom to any promising role, we jump on them and rip them to shreds. 

Many will claim that there have been numerous athletes who have fallen back into our good graces after the atrocities they have committed. Ray Lewis is seen as one of the most prolific linebackers to ever play the game, and he was convicted of murder. Alex Rodriguez cheated on his wife and took steroids but was the hero in New York during their latest World Series victory. Even Michael Vick got cheers from Eagle fans during his first season out of prison. 

But truthfully, these players weren’t forgiven at all. If it wasn’t for the fact that they contributed to their teams’ success, they still would have been considered scum who blew their opportunity in sports. In reality, we don’t forgive, but we allow ourselves to forget only if they put up the numbers our teams need. 

We do this because our love and obsession with sports have overshadowed our morality. We no longer see athletes as human beings who have their own lives outside the games they play, but as tools that can be used to satisfy our desire for success. When they hit below .250 or fall into a three game cold streak, we shout for them to get out of town. But when they show that they can carry out the same atrocities that any “regular” person can, we become outraged because now they don’t fit the images that we have created for them. 

They not only have to be outstanding at sports, but they have to be the perfect role models for our children. They need to show our children how to succeed in every aspect of life. In other words, they need to be super-human. However, while we create this dual image, success on the field still takes precedence over off-the-field transgressions. Think about how many times you claimed to hate a player because you thought he or she was a “jerk,” until he or she joined your team, and then he or she became a good person. However, once this athlete began playing poorly, he or she became the same jerk he or she was before. 

This is simply the cycle. We want our athletes to be perfect, and when they are not, we devour them. However, they can fall back into our good graces as long as they continue to perform. 

We will say it is because we are a forgiving population, that we understand that the athlete made a mistake, but truly, it’s the walk-off homerun or the 18 points in the fourth quarter that led to the athlete’s redemption. 

Ben Roethlisberger recently was accused of sexual assault, his second accusation in the past year. He has not yet apologized, but when he does, I bet he will say he is sorry for embarrassing all his fans and especially his family, but that this event gave him the perspective he needed to change. You won’t believe him and will jump  down his throat. But don’t worry, because once he beats the Bengals by throwing three touchdowns, he’ll be back to what he once was in the fans’ minds.

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David Roman is a junior psychology and sociology major from Windham, N.H.  He can be reached at [email protected]