Perception Of The Athlete In Modern American Society

2059 words - 9 pages

Perception of the Athlete in Modern Society

As with all the paper topic categories involving different sorts of bodies, culture’s perception of the sports body has evolved over time, but not as much as one would think. When the Athenians started the Olympics several millenniums ago their ideal athlete was well built and muscular (so much so that participants in the games at that time performed naked so the crowd could admire their appearance as much as their ability to run, jump, etc…) which is not very different from what we picture the ideal athlete as today. Webster’s dictionary defines athlete as “Any one trained to contend in exercises requiring great physical agility and strength; ...view middle of the document...

Rodriguez earned a long list of sponsorships including Nike, Mercedes-Benz, and of course made the cover of the Wheaties cereal box along with appearing on countless magazines. Making more money for another team only made sense in the U.S.A where our sports have turned to businesses – yet very few Americans question the integrity of the athletes we love so much. Rodriguez broke the record for biggest contract ever by signing for 252 million dollars over 6 years for the Texas Rangers. The Rangers never made the postseason with A-Rod, but Rodriguez maintained his hall of fame form, winning an MVP award and a home run title. Rodriguez was later traded to the Yankees, playing on baseball’s biggest stage in New York where high expectations are standard.
Before ever hearing the words steroid and Alex Rodriguez in the same sentence ever happened, A-Rod’s image was forever tarnished when the public found out that: “A former Manhattan madam who supplied Eliot Spitzer with hookers also counted Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez as a customer - and found him so charming she dated him herself for free, former employees of the call-girl agency tell the Daily News” (Rush, New York Daily News). Rodriguez’s image immediately turned negative, and from then on he would no longer receive the same admiration as a golden boy from the rest of the country that he had for the beginning of his career. A scandal involving Rodriguez rumoring that he cheated on his wife with pop star Madonna hasn’t helped his image either. The big question, now, has to pertain to how as a society we see our idols. Other celebrities such as actors and singers are probably more scrutinized for their each and every move by tabloids, but somehow this doesn’t seem to be as big of a deal then when an athlete wrongs us. Most of the country watches some sort of sporting event on a daily basis, we post bumper stickers of our favorite teams on our cars, we gather for dinner and drinks on Sundays for football or for big baseball or basketball games, and most importantly our children look up to these sports heroes – wearing their jerseys and imitating their styles of play in the backyard.
When you hear that “Rodriguez's name appears on a list of 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball's '03 survey testing, SI's sources say” (Roberts, Sports Illustrated) you can’t help but to wonder why we hold athletes in such high regard when almost three entire major league teams worth of players cheated six years ago. The biggest problem may be that Rodriguez was looked at as a player who in all likelihood wasn’t using performance enhancing drugs, which essentially means any player that we see as a sort of hero might in fact be cheating. Three of the top ten all time home run leaders (Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Rafael Palmeiro) have been found guilty of steroid use, along with Roger Clemens who many regarded as the greatest pitcher of all time. America’s image of...

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