Blinded by Brawn


Photo courtesy of Dylan Brehm

Dylan Brehm, Op-Ed

The physical spectacle of professional athletes has deceived us into perceiving them as role models, even when their actions are negligible and wrong. This has slowly bled into the school system with student-athletes, and those inspired by them, striking up conflict with teachers and classes.

Trash talk is a part of any game and Tyreek Hill has perfected it. Even though he may be one of the shortest players on the field, he backs up his bark with big plays and exciting runs. Hill made the pro-bowl for the first 4 seasons of his career while showing his popularity among kids and adults alike as the most prominent speedster on the electric Kansas City Offense.

However, off of the field, Tyreek Hill has to play defense. In a disastrous court case, Tyreek’s son is pinned against his father over a case of physical abuse. In a chilling video, the child’s mother and Tyreek’s fiancé expresses, “He [the son] is terrified of you.” Tyreek Hill then utters, “You need to be terrified of me, too.” Tyreek Hill brought his on-field personality home and used his own family as an outlet for his violent behavior. How can a man like this be a positive role model?

Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be playing sports while adoring fans cheered me on. As I chipped away at my goals, I also watched lots of sports. In my home this meant football. Every Sunday I saw my dad rise out of his comfy leather sofa to cheer or mock or yell or wait in nervous anticipation of what was going to happen in the game.

Early on, I adopted my oldest brother’s enthusiasm for the New England Patriots and Tom Brady. Evidently, my childhood role model, Tom Brady, is not a morally outstanding individual. Several times, he and his team have either been caught or suspected of cheating. Either way, I have found myself having to defend them on many occasions, normalizing the poor conduct.

This cheating and lying habit set by some athletes has leaked into the classroom. Instead of assignments and tests, athletes and those who look up to them prioritize sports and watching them in their lives. Some are able to strike that perfect balance where they can study and score, but most are only able to do the latter. That leads to cheating on tests and lying about doing homework.

College athletics are celebrated nation-wide as innocent student-athletes compete for a chance in professional sports. However, off the court or field, their actions deviate from their public personas. According to USA Today, student-athletes only make up 3% of the college campus, yet are responsible for 9% of the sexual misconduct reported.

This figure is even more troubling for football recruits. Even though making up less than 1% of the population, they are responsible for 6% of reported instances of sexual misconduct on campuses.

Many times the troubling reality forces fans and organizations of these teams and schools to overwhelm the victimized party with insults and excuses, as if their play on the field is more important than their awful actions off of it. This same mentality has leaked into the school with student-athletes making excuses for their poor grades because of their outstanding play. While athletics are important, using them as a means to pressure teachers into giving better grades is not. This superiority complex developed by these young stars is toxic in the classroom.

Time and time again, players in all fields and sports cross the line and step out of bounds in their personal lives and show a trend of poor behavior. This immoral behavior may inspire the people that look up to them to excuse these actions or even celebrate it. This results in a toxic environment that changes innocent kids into one of those many student-athletes who abuse their popularity.

The poor role model set by these athletes has polluted the minds of younger student-athletes and created a dangerous precedent for cheating in school. Additionally, the school has the tendency to appease these athletes by smudging grades and boosting scores in an effort to keep players on the field. The dangerous mindset this instills in our valuable youth is hard to break and leads to bitter jealousy or rampant greed.