In many ways, sportspeople should be ultimate icons of inspiration. You would expect such individuals to lead clean and pure lives. All the better to be good at what they do. They’re in a career which hinges solely on their bodies. So, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume they’d be good role models.
So much so that few parents are concerned when their children look up to footballers, rugby players, and so on. Surely sportspeople like these will be a better lead to follow than other celebrities?
Or, perhaps not. Recent years have seen an increasing deterioration in the way sports figures act. More so than most celebrities, sporting individuals are being arrested and charged for bad behaviour. Most recently, iconic football figure Wayne Rooney was caught for drink driving.
And, this is far from the only incident of bad behaviour from a sports personality. A recent report into New Zealand’s rugby union revealed many shocking behaviours, including sexism and alcohol abuse. While fans are happily betting on the result of rugby union games, it seems playing isn’t as much of a priority to teams as it should be. Instead, they’re visiting strip clubs and drinking heavily.
Even UK rugby players have are guilty of bad behaviour, with two unnamed players proving positive for cocaine use in January this year. The dangerous drug showed on a routine blood test, and this isn’t the first time it’s happened.In fact, regulations are still tight after ‘the Bath cocaine scandal’ in 2009, where Michael Lipman and three others were banned due to drug use.
To top it all, football players are notorious for cheating on partners. When the majority of youngsters watching are young boys, you have to wonder how this affects them. When youngsters get into football, they become fans of players as much as the sport. And, while we can hope they don’t realise these shady behaviours, it seems unlikely. For example, Wayne Rooney was with another woman at the time of his arrest. And, it’s not the first time he’s played away from home. But, he’s certainly not alone, with a shocking majority of big named figures doing the dirty.
And, behaviour on the pitch also leaves a lot to be desired, with players scuffling and arguing like there’s no tomorrow. While the odd argument has always been part of the sporting world, the frequency and violence displayed are ever-worsening.
So, what can the sporting world do about behaviour like this? For one, it would help if they acknowledged the problem. As has been seen in Rooney’s case, the drink driving has been kept quite separate from his football life, with manager Ronald Koeman simply claiming to be ‘disappointed’ by what’s happened.
It seems that the only way forward is to punish players more fiercely for things they do in their spare time. Because off-pitch behaviour does have a significant impact on their positions. In fact, you could go as far as to say that it’s naive to pretend otherwise.