No, Professional Athletes Should Not Be Idolized

By Liam Sullivan (III), Contributing Writer

In recent years, professional sports have grown to be much more than a source of entertainment. Watching sports has become a worldwide phenomenon, where the highest level athletes are revered as heroes to millions of fans around the globe. We see athletes’ faces on magazine covers, billboards and cereal boxes, painting them as figures with untouchable athletic prowess. Amid the hero-like worship, however, it is essential to question the legitimacy of athlete idolization.

Recent controversies involving athletes, such as the suspension of Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant, a rising star in the National Basketball League (NBA), highlight the negative consequences that can arise from idolizing these individuals. On March 4, Morant was suspended for eight games without pay after a video of him holding a handgun while intoxicated in a nightclub in Denver, Colorado surfaced. Following the incident, Morant apologized through ESPN, “I know I’ve disappointed a lot of people who have supported me. This is a journey, and I recognize there is more work to do. My words may not mean much right now, but I take full accountability for my actions. I’m committed to continuing to work on myself.”

Even after all his promises, two months later, on May 13, Morant was once again seen flashing a handgun on Instagram while driving. The video circulated the internet, and has since been deleted. Morant faces an indefinite suspension and possible fines from the NBA.

After these events, many of his young fans were left disheartened and disillusioned. Morant’s situation proves that the idolization of athletes can blind us to their flaws and mistakes, leading to disappointment.

Idolizing athletes can have adverse effects on society. When a fan places an athlete on a pedestal, their actions can go unquestioned, giving them unjust power. Athletes can misuse their influence, and use their platforms to spread harmful ideas in instances involving criminal activities. The idolization of athletes blinds fans from the immorality of wrongful behavior, which runs the risk of normalizing and justifying such actions to impressionable young athletes. “[Morant] has an incredibly huge following,” expresses NBA commissioner Adam Silver, after Morant’s second suspension. “And my concern […] [is that] tens of millions of kids globally would see him as having done something that was celebrating in a way, the act of using a firearm in that fashion.”

Aspiring young athletes who are not born with outstanding athletic ability may also fall into the trap of worshiping a professional. The inability to perform at the level of their favorite athlete may lead to feelings of inadequacy and a negative self-image. Ben Davidson (III) shares his opinion on the dangers of hero worship in sports: “The easiest way to destroy young talent is to compare it to something else.”

Placing athletes on a pedestal is bound to lead to disappointed fans. Instead of idolizing athletes, we should appreciate their skills and accomplishments while recognizing their humanity, and focus on the positive qualities they embody. By doing so, we can foster a healthier and more balanced approach to sports and admiration.