Sports Heroes?

LewisGreat piece in today’s New York Post, reminding readers about exactly what happened in the Ray Lewis murder trial. The story is important for two reasons:

1. In the next week, we will be barraged with news stories about how much Ray Lewis is an icon of the game. Indeed, as the Post story points out, “Lewis will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in five years and is considered a lock. It’s widely rumored that ESPN wants to hire him as a color commentator, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said he wants to hire Lewis as a special adviser, citing him as a “tremendous voice of reason.”

And all these years later, Ray Lewis holds no regrets about what happened that night in Atlanta. “If I had to go through all of that over again . . . I wouldn’t change a thing,” he said recently. “Couldn’t. The end result is who I am now.”

2. Ray Lewis is not alone. There are all sorts of athletes who sacrafice everything — academics, their families — to reach the pinnacle of their sport, often in dishonest ways. Do people in other walks of life do this? Certainly. But they’re not held up as role models by a sports media culture that often overlooks their worst personal traits to write 1,200 words about their jump shot.

I was ravaged last year when I wrote a piece for the Chicago Tribune, “Derrick Rose Is No Role Model.” I simply pointed out that inner-city kids should not be looking up to Rose as some sort of hometown hero. He cheated on his ACT exams to get into Memphis, the entire season he was there was vacated, yet he went on to sign a $100 million contract with the Chicago Bulls.

Anyway, read the Ray Lewis piece and remember all these facts when the sports media is telling you what a great guy he is.

About Mark Yost
Mark Yost is the author of the Rick Crane Noir series, published by Stay Thirsty Press. Rick Crane is the classic, anti-hero private eye in the spirit of Sam Spade and Jim Rockford. He works in the unmistakably noirish underworld of Upstate New York, running errands and fixing problems for Jimmy Ricchiati Sr., one of Upstate New York's most notorious crime bosses. But readers quickly learn that deep down, Rick Crane is one of the good guys. "Cooper's Daughter," the first book in the widely acclaimed series, is a fast-moving tale in which a heartbroken father comes to Rick and asks him to find out what really happened to his daughter, who was murdered and the details buried in the Unsolved Crimes File of the local police department. The second book in the series is "Jimmy's Nephew," which begins with the death of Joey "Boom Boom" Bonadeo, an up-and-coming boxer and the nephew of Rick's underworld boss. What starts out as a routine investigation turns into a case that will test Rick's faith -- in the Catholic Church and his fellow man. Book No. 3 in the series, "Mary's Fate" is due out in August 2015. Mark Yost also writes for The Wall Street Journal Arts in Review page, as well as the Book Review section. He is a member of the Mystery Writers of America -- Midwest Chapter, International Thriller Writers, and a number of other author groups. He is also a member of the Amazon Author's Program. Mark lives in the Loyola neighborhood of Chicago, but he and his son, George, call the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn "home."

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