The athletic pedestal

NFL superstar Tim Tebow in the act of “Tebowing” ORLANDO SENTINEL/PHOTO

Stars are created, only to be destroyed for the sake of entertainment. This statement holds true in the media—music, television, and movies—where those who make it big are being placed on figurative pedestals. Their excessive love affairs, among other extravagances, only lead to harsh descents, which are well publicized. But perhaps this phenomenon is most prominent in the ESPN- and TMZ-driven modern world of sports.


Crazes such as Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow’s “Tebowmania” and New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin’s “Linsanity” not only exploit and hinder a casual viewer’s perception of professional sports leagues, they create herds of new naïve “fans” in each sport.


To watch professional sports is to see a dream that, for many, can’t be physically fulfilled, but bonds form anyway from things like an athlete’s performance, personality, or cultural relation. Or that’s how it used to be. Now, it’s the rise of new reality-based dysfunctional programming on TV that generates the most interest for many viewers.


Years ago, it was simple. Fans watched games and supported their favourite players and teams, and that was where a person’s allegiance lay. Now, with the widespread use of new communication sharing tools like Twitter, it’s a matter of keystrokes, clicks, or screen taps to “retweet”, “follow”, or “tweet” directly to teams and athletes. Professional athletes and teams have lost their superhero status, now seeming more mortal than ever. On the surface, this should be great publicity, but when it becomes a matter of missing a game-winning shot or dropping a wide-open pass, players lose the privacy of comfort after a day on the job.


The connection to stars through the ability to track their every move fuels the dark tabloid-style side of media, a light that has become a dangerous to whomever it shines on.


This time of year more and more bets are placed on college basketball, NHL hockey, NBA basketball, and soccer leagues all over the globe. In every game there is a winner and a loser. Some finishes are thrilling and others controversial, but the newest danger to an athlete’s health may be the fans. Players and teams are held accountable for each performance and owe it to fans to be perfect as entertainers, only to be destroyed every time they come up short. Fans need to remember that players are human.