Commentary: What do you want from an athlete?

Published On:
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
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How much do we really care about athletes’ personal lives?

Judging from the agonizingly extensive coverage on the ESPN family of networks, it seems as if it consumes us.

Let’s delve a little deeper into this issue, though, and ask ourselves the same question, thinking about it in terms of our respective favorite teams.

There is a certain player, in every league of every major sport, whom most people would say something along the lines of, “He’s an arrogant [insert expletive]. I don’t want him on my team,” or, “He’s a thug. I would never cheer for that guy.”

That is, of course, until that player actually ends up on your beloved team.

Here in the Phoenix area, and the rest of the state for that matter, fans show an absolute disgust with a fellow by the name of Kobe Bryant.

I could fill the entire newspaper with insults, ranging from the filthiest, potty-mouthed quips to the downright ignorant ones.

But I say, nay! ’Tis jealousy that breeds such trash talking.

Try to be honest with yourselves, Suns fans. You know if No. 24 laced up for the purple and orange, all those insults I alluded to would go right down the toilet where they belong.

In an effort to prove my point, I offer two case studies in the form of Michael Vick and Brett Favre.

I know these stories have been beaten to death by the media, but they are vital to my argument, so quit groaning.

First, we will examine Mr. Vick.

The man who has not taken a snap in over two years recently made his debut in a Philadelphia Eagles uniform.

Not too much to be excited about if you’re an Eagles fan, right?

I mean, the guy has been reading prison library books instead of NFL defenses for 19 of the last 22 months.

But the same fans who once booed Santa Claus — a symbol of joy and hope for many — gave a rousing standing ovation to this puppy murderer.

Remarkable.

In the case of the ageless Brett Favre, he too made his debut in a new uniform. Only Favre’s new team happens to be a division rival of his former team in Green Bay.

If you are familiar with the rivalries in the NFC’s “Black and Blue Division,” you are aware that they are, well — unfriendly.

So now, the Minnesota fans who once filled the Metrodome with hopes of their defensive lineman reducing No. 4 to dust are the same fans who recently made Favre’s Vikings jersey the top-selling jersey in the league.

This phenomenon also applies to America’s pastime as well.

I think A-Roid and the rest of the players hopped up on the juice would prove to be welcome additions to most ball clubs in the eyes of their respective fans.

Dodger fans were notorious for giving Barry Bonds “the business” after the whole Balco fiasco, yet Manny Ramirez was treated like royalty after serving his suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

Winning isn’t everything?

I beg to differ.

Reach the reporter at emschimm@asu.edu.