Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Should Athletes Be Considered Role Models?!?

So last night, after the wife and kids are knocked out, I find myself thumbing thru League Pass, and happen upon the Bulls/Heat game which is strangely in 2OT. I don't particularly care for either team, but I don't think it's humanly possible to turn away from the final minute of a tightly contested NBA game. With the game tied and less than 15 seconds remaining, the Bulls are going for the game-winner, and one of the most amazing plays I've ever seen in my life transpires.

That is just friggin' amazing! Only a select handful of players could pull something like that off, and last night Dwyane Wade showed why he's considered an MVP candidate.

As incredible as the play was, I just couldn't bring myself to cheer for this guy though. Not because the Heat routinely torment the local NBA team I used to cheer for. Mainly because just a few weeks ago, Wade filed for divorce from his wife of many years and in return, she went public with some very salacious details of his extramarital activities.

Just to refresh your memory.
Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade recently filed for divorce from wife Siohvaughn, his high school sweetheart. In legal papers, she alleges he abandoned his children, committed adultery, and infected her with an unspecified sexually transmitted disease. She wants the names of ''all of his sexual partners'' during their six-year marriage.

He and Siohvaughn, 27, have two boys, Zaire, a first-grader who will be 7 next month, and Zion, 1. Siohvaughn moved back to Chicago with the kids last year.

The All-Star has been romantically linked to actress Gabrielle Union, 36, once married to former Jacksonville Jaguar Chris Howard.

From Siohvaughn's pleading: ``Dwyane has dissipated substantial sums of marital property including . . . buying his mother a $2 million church; placing substantial sums of money in an account with another woman; providing numerous friends and family members with unfettered access to accounts with hundreds of thousands of dollars of marital funds from which they made substantial withdrawals . . .''

Meanwhile, she says, he cut her off financially.

Dwyane, named a ''Father of the Year'' in 2007 by the National Father's Day Committee, has gone ''months'' without seeing his boys, Siohvaughn says. His ''failure to spend time with them . . . has resulted in the children at times being afraid of him; in fact, Zion . . . does not recognize or know Dwyane.'' She wants sole custody, and support.

She also says she has suffered ''grievous physical, emotional and mental injury'' from the STD, diagnosed in the fall of '07. (The infection is not HIV or a ''killer thing,'' sources say.) Dwyane and his ''paramour or paramours'' are liable, she alleges.
In an extremely odd turn of events, since that original story broke, Wade's ex has rescinded the STD allegation, and he's subsequently filed lawsuit against her and her attorneys for talkin' greasy.
Dwyane Wade sued his estranged wife and two of her lawyers Wednesday over accusations the Miami Heat star contracted a sexually transmitted disease through an extramarital affair.

In the lawsuit, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, Wade is seeking at least $50,000 in damages from each defendant.

Siohvaughn Wade said last month the player infected her with an unspecified disease in 2007. Weeks later, she withdrew the claim from the court hearing the divorce case for unknown reasons.

That wasn't enough to satisfy the 2006 NBA finals MVP, who said her allegations not only defamed him, but caused "embarrassment" and "humiliation" along with damaging future earning potential.

"It has been difficult to see false allegations, rumors and gossip repeatedly discussed in public about my personal life," Dwyane Wade said in a statement released to the AP. "I had no other choice but to file this action in order to clear my name."

Dwyane Wade's private life has been tabloid fodder for several months, a span that largely coincides with his split from his high school sweetheart.

A recent story in The Palm Beach Post, based on comments made by a former business partner of Dwyane Wade — a person who's filed suit against him, alleging breach of contract in a failed restaurant deal — said Wade used a rented Miami apartment for sex parties and smoked marijuana.

Wade's representatives denied that story, dismissing it as lies from someone seeking a payoff from the NBA star.
Again, with all the conflicting stories, it's quite possible the truth lies somewhere in that murky gray area in between, but what's true beyond certainty is that the squeaky clean "awww shucks" guy-next-door, local boy done-good image that Wade used to pedal everything from Converse to T-Mobile phones was definitely a facade.

[Editor's Note: Between Wade and Barkley's off-court problems, I gotta seriously ask: Who's In Their 5?, besides a bunch of seedy lawyers and whorish jumpoffs?!?]

Getting to the point, I wonder if I'm justified in not being able to cheer for a guy of dubious character, and if so, does that make me wildly hypocritical?

Anyone who's ever taken in the nightlife of a major city knows that many (not all) athletes and entertainers, married or not, are Super Hoes. NBA All-Star weekend looks like Freaknik. These guys have it thrown at them all day erry day, and lots of them partake. There are entire groupie websites devoted to chronicling married men of fame and their every off-court move. As fans, we tend to let this stuff slide until something goes public (ie: a rape allegation, a drug charge, an out-of-wedlock kid, non-payment of child support), and then it's hard to pretend we don't look at them the same anymore.

I've contended at several points in the past that athletes shouldn't be "character" role models. It's fine for a child to want to replicate their athletic achievements. I grew up wanting to be Magic Johnson. As a preteen, I had no idea of the Magic his Johnson was reeking on groupies nationwide, and I'm not so sure it would have made a difference if I did. After Chris Webber was run out of DC for his driving-while-blunted and dope and grope allegations (which were later proven to be false), I remember asking my mentee (who was 10 or 11 at the time) if he was disappointed. He said, "no, not as long as he can still dunk". He then went on to say he'd be very disappointed if it was me busted for weed and a trumped-up rape charge, because he actually knew me.

That taught me one valuable lesson, kids are a lot smarter than you think. They too can tell the difference between what you do and who you are.

And this is why I feel kinda conflicted about Wade. Again, he isn't raising my kids. He doesn't play for a team I like. He isn't giving my wife syphilis. He isn't paying my bills. Why should I give a crap either, as long as he can still dunk?

But something about watching that guy jump on top of the scorers table flailing his arms, yelling "this is my house!" just seemed all kinds of wrong, and I can't for the life of me figure out why.

Question: Are athletes role models for youth? Assuming they aren't, do you find yourself somewhat conflicted about cheering for a person (athlete, entertainer, etc.) of dubious character? How much does character matter when all you care about is what the person does, not who the person is?

Wade sues estranged wife, attorneys [AP]

blog comments powered by Disqus

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.