Updated Jun 6, 2012 - 10:09 am
Give 'em a break
Why do we feel like sports allows us to attack the innocent or young?
LeBron James is a professional athlete who claimed to be on the verge of winning not 1, 2, 3...but 7 World Championships. He has had the ball in his hands at the end of many games too afraid to take the last shot. If someone wants to rip him for choking, I say go ahead. He brought it on himself and hasn't proven he can handle the heat.
Most professional athletes understand they need thick skin. Since those athletes have no problem accepting accolades and compliments from media and fans when they are successful, they should accept varying opinions that doubt their skills. If they don't like it, they could work in the real world and receive a real world pay check.
It easily could be the minority of fans but that minority has gone too far blurring the lines between professional athlete and the periphery of sports. Sarah Lucroy, Logan Tully-Tillman and Justin Combs are not household names, nor should they be. They are not professional athletes. One is a housewife and the other two are high school football players. All three have received treatment that's worse than Ryan Braun gets and none of them deserve it.
Sarah is receiving hate mail because she's not physically strong enough for Brewer fans. Tully-Tillman is receiving death threats because he did something rude and silly as a 17 year-old. Combs is being attacked by those jealous of his work ethic or because they think his life is their business.
Meet Sarah Lucroy. She's a stay-at-home mom with a beautiful two-year-old daughter. Since Los Angeles is such a beautiful city in her eyes she accompanied her husband on the trip. Since it was a long trip, he had a big suitcase. He was looking for a sock under the hotel bed--just like we all look for the last-minute odds-and- ends before we check out of the hotel. As he reached for the sock, Sarah was shifting the suitcase to the end of the bed. She wasn't strong enough to handle the unbalanced suitcase that she had pushed too close to the edge.
The suitcase fell right on to her husband's hand. Sarah had just broken the hand of the National League's number one hitting catcher with a .345 batting average on the season. How horrible must a wife feel? Her husband, Jonathon Lucroy had worked his whole life to get to this point. He's one of the best catchers in the game. On a team without Prince Fielder and with an under-performing Rickie Weeks, Lucroy was a major lifter on a struggling offense. His wife felt terrible when all she was doing was trying to help.
How do Brewer fans respond? Thousands find Sarah's Facebook page and bombard her with hate-filled messages. Truly the definition of courage is not defending a nation in a foreign country, willing to take a bullet for the ideals of liberty and freedom. Courage is sitting in front of a keyboard attacking a man's wife for trying to help him during his travels.
Meet Logan Tully-Tillman. He is not a sympathetic figure. A high school standout in football, Logan received many scholarship offers and letters from schools across the nation. He was increasingly intrigued by one of the most famous college rivalries in the country: Ohio State and Michigan.
Logan thought it would be boring to announce that he had made his choice. Before his oral commitment, he figured spice was in order. As he announced his choice to attend Michigan, he took a letter from Ohio State and burned it to show he was a Michigan man. Of course, the act would not be enough. It needed to be videoed and tweeted out for all to see.
It was a stupid move. Clearly the move of an immature teenager who thought he knew everything in the world and could handle every situation. Clearly it was something that was just as dumb as some of the decisions all of us made when we were 17.
How did Ohio State fans respond? Instantly tweeted death threats and Gregg Williams-like bounty offers for any Buckeye football player who could inflict pain on Tully- Tillman during his first run-in with Ohio State. Courage is not being a teenager in the hallways of Columbine High School being gunned down after having your religion questioned at the point of the gun and answering the question without fear of repercussions. Courage is threatening to kill a teenager because he burned a letter.
Meet Justin Combs. Another high school football player but this time he's done nothing even remotely questionable. All Combs has done is worked hard enough in football to earn a scholarship. He's also worked on earning strong grades and showing solid character in other areas of his life to earn an extra financial gift from his new college.
Here's the catch as people with lesser work ethic see it. Combs' father has a lot of money. Since Combs' father has a lot of money, Justin shouldn't receive an earned benefit and the money should go to a lesser qualified candidate. Combs and his father are being attacked by political pundits and the blogosphere for taking what he's earned.
What has happened to our country? All we do is push kids to achieve more. We test them at every step to make sure they're learning exactly what we want them to learn. They pass every test along the way, do extra to earn extra, then we attack them for what they earned because it's not fair to those who didn't earn it? Here's an idea: if you don't earn something, instead of tearing down those that do, work harder so you earn it.
To Sarah, Logan and Justin:
You live in the greatest country in the world. I hope the jealous, immature and misguided Americans never get you down. Congratulations on your success to this point and good luck earning more.