After having witnessed the Randy Moss fiasco in Green Bay and the ensuing reactions by various media outlets, I realized that it was both overblown and indicative of what is wrong with American professional sports today.
Moss is a tremendously gifted wide receiver, able to perform remarkable feats of skill with sheer natural ability. He is also a spoiled, disrespectful, overpaid child who apparently has never been convinced that his boorish celebrations and off-field antics are simply stupid at best.
The problem is not that simulating a mooning and wiping one’s hind-end on the goal post never struck Moss as wrong (he’s too ignorant for that), but that many fans and professional insiders would excuse such behavior by being dismissive because of his level of skill.
Let us not forget that a couple of years ago Randy Moss had a criminal case against him for a hit and run after he ran over a meter maid (suspended sentence), and a possession of marijuana charge (slap on the wrist). Does anyone tell this kid to go to his room and think about what he did? Ever? No, not as long as he can beat a cornerback down the field. That’s a sick reality, in a fan friendly world.
I don’t know why I’m surprised anymore; this kind of thing has been going on for years. It seems as if any jerk that gets a first down or makes a tackle starts dancing around like he just cured cancer. Calm down, you did your job. The problem with the bad sportsmanship that permeates the NFL – and the NBA for that matter – is that the players are not allowed to self-regulate. In Major League Baseball, for instance, if a batter hits a home run and “shows up” the pitcher, there is a very strong chance that the batter will get drilled in the back with the next pitch he sees.
Baseball is far from perfect, but it self-regulates on the field. The last time I saw football take care of business like that was when Terrell Owens did his Jesus pose in the middle of the Dallas Star and was blind-sided by Emmitt Smith for his lack of respect. I liked seeing another player stand up for integrity and pride, even if it was Emmitt Smith.
The bottom line here is that professional athletes are entertainers that do influence culture by acting a certain way. Yes, they are role models, as long as pop-culture shoves them down our throats. Yes, they have a responsibility to be respectful to the fans as long as fans are buying tickets and ultimately paying salaries. ‘Tis true, fans can be antagonistic, and they need to be checked for some of the insults that they hurl, but never by the athletes themselves.
The shame is that more and more players act like Moss every day, because he gets the Sportcenter highlight, obscuring the value of strong character and class that the majority of professional athletes have.