Separating the Playing Field from the Pedestal: Why Society Must Stop Idolizing Athletes


On rapper Kendrick Lamar’s 2022 album Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, the 14 th track is
entitled, ‘Savior’. The song starts off with the following lyrics:“Kendrick made you think about it, but he is not your savior
Cole made you feel empowered, but he is not your savior Future said, "Get a money counter," but he is not your savior
'Bron made you give his flowers, but he is not your savior He is not your savior” Following the introduction, the song carries on while Lamar, Baby Keem and Sam Dew spend the next three minutes explaining that while they may be popular and influential, they are in fact,
not your savior. Like many Kendrick Lamar songs, it got me thinking about things in a much broader context, specifically from the lens of sports.
As he has been name-dropped in numerous songs, LeBron James is arguably the most well-
known and revered athlete in the country. Through his philanthropy and seemingly perfect
personal life, he is an easy athlete to idolize because he appears to have found the secret to being
both an incredible athlete and a great husband and father. He is unquestionably a good role
model, but does that mean he is without sin? Absolutely not.
Like the rest of us, James is a mere mortal who is prone to make mistakes. While we all
subconsciously know this, it is easy to ignore that fact when we see athletes seemingly having it
together in every area of their lives. If you don’t believe me, there’s a whole host of other
examples of terrific athletes who have done (or been accused of) terrible things.
From Utah Jazz legend Karl Malone impregnating a 13-year-old in college, Cleveland Browns
quarterback Deshaun Watson being accused of sexual misconduct over 20 times, two-time Super
Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger being accused of rape twice,
Miami Dolphins star wide receiver Tyreek Hill beating up his pregnant girlfriend, NFL Hall of
Famer OJ Simpson being accused of a brutal double-murder or even to Kobe Bryant being tried
on a sexual assault charge.
I could keep going, but I think you get the point. Time and time again, athletes prove that they
are just humans who are capable of doing bad things, just like everyone else. Are we all
supposed to forget that because they have a pretty jump shot or because they score a lot of
touchdowns?
In conclusion, all of this isn’t meant to sully your view of athletes. There are some who are
genuinely good people who treat others right and make a difference in their communities.
However, there is a fine line between being a fan and being a fanatic. When one stops viewing

athletes as humans and starts to view them as mythic, god-like figures, that is when the problems
occur. That is when one’s judgment becomes clouded, and one becomes too wrapped up in what
essentially is meant to be mere entertainment. As a lifelong sports fan, I can admit that at times I
have forgotten that and the comedown was a hard one. Admittedly, I still haven’t totally
recovered from a couple of them. So, for my fellow sports fans out there, there’s nothing wrong
with cheering for your favorite players and teams. Go buy that jersey, poster, ticket to the game,
or whatever you do to show your support. Just remember, that while these athletes may be
making millions of dollars, driving fancy cars and living a perfect life on social media, they’re
just like you and me. God just blessed them with a bit more athletic ability than us, not a higher
moral compass.

nelson

Scroll to Top