If you follow the NHL you’ve probably heard of the accusations that were brought against Chicago Blackhawks star forward Patrick Kane. At the beginning of August, the four-time All-Star was accused of raping a woman at a private party at his home.
The accusation against Kane is, well, just that. An accusation. He hasn’t been proven guilty, and he feels confident that he will be found innocent. Since he has not been found guilty, he can’t be punished by the NHL. However, he was removed from the cover of the video game NHL 16. The game’s cover originally was to feature Kane and teammate Jonathan Toews; Toews will now be featured alone.
Though he has only been accused at this point, Patrick Kane’s case brings up a larger issue that has become more prevalent in recent years: do these superstar athletes live up to the standards of the role models we hold them to?
Modern society looks up to professional athletes as we watch the incredible feats they perform in their respective sports. We hold them in a special regard for those abilities. Many kids look up to these professional athletes. They wear their jerseys and mimic their highlight reels.
Yet these athletes aren’t perfect. Their status magnifies not only their achievements but also their shortcomings. Being elevated by the public comes with a lot of pressure. In past years, some major news stories have come out of professional athletes’ run-ins with the law.
In case you need a refresher on their incidents, here’s a brief summary. In 2003, Kobe was accused of sexual assault by an employee of a hotel he stayed at. In 2004, World Peace was the center of attention in the infamous “Malice at the Palace”, which involved a brawl between players and fans during an Indiana Pacers vs Detroit Pistons NBA game. Peterson was indicted of abusing his son in 2014 and Ray Rice was caught on video beating his then-fiancee, now wife at a casino.
These incidents highlight a few of the extreme occurrences that received a lot of news headlines. Other incidents occur frequently, but don’t necessarily make national news headlines. The NFL, for example, hasn’t gone a month without a player being arrested since 2009. It was newsworthy when September of this year came within a day of being the second such month since Roger Goodell has been commissioner. However, it was later learned that Tennessee’s wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham was arrested for an unpaid speeding ticket on the last day of the month, continuing the streak.
Though these minor incidents may not receive the national spotlight, they don’t go unnoticed. What impact does it have on a kid that finds out their favorite player is suspended for the next game because of some illegal activity? It’s a bad example for kids, set by someone they look up to.
Yes, these athletes have incredible physical abilities. But we need to realize that that is why we appreciate them; we admire their athleticism, not their superhuman decision making skills. They’re people just like us. It’s easy to point to the athletes and say that they don’t meet our standard of role models. That’s not on them, though, if we have our expectations set too high.