Heroes and Hoodlums in the World of Sports


There is an undeniable fact in the wide world of sports that top athletes are idolized by adoring fans, particularly young and impressionable children. This idolization of sports heroes is further propelled by an industry that capitalizes on this innate tendency among youth to want to imitate their heroes. This was no more evident than the recent Gatorade sports drink commercial, which sang the praises of NBA superstar Michael Jordan:

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From drug possession, to gambling, to murder, many professional athletes are building up rap sheets faster than their careers.

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"Sometimes I dream that he is me. You've got to see...that's how I dream to be, I dream I move, I dream I groove, like Mike, if I could be like Mike..."

But unfortunately so many of today's sports figures are not what we want our children to be.

From drug possession, to gambling, to murder, many professional athletes are building up rap sheets faster than their careers.

Even if you don't follow sports, it's difficult to ignore the news about the latest exploits of the cross-dressing Dennis Rodman who kicked a photographer during a nationally televised game and was arrested in 1999 for public drunkenness.

Dennis Rodman watches the final minutes of his team's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

And who could forget the late NBA player Wilt Chamberlain, who bragged about sleeping with 20,000 women in a 1991 biography, averaging 1.2 a day from the time he was 15. Regardless of whether his claims were true, he clearly indicated an incredible lack of respect for women and an acute deficiency of morality.

Perhaps the most disturbing incident involving a pro athlete was the recent conviction of Charlotte Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth, who was sentenced to 19 years in prison for his role in the ambush killing of his pregnant girlfriend. Fortunately, doctors were able to successfully deliver the baby by emergency Cesarean section.

And just weeks later, Baltimore Ravens All-Pro line-backer Ray Lewis was arrested and charged with murder for the stabbing death of two men outside an Atlanta nightclub following the Super Bowl. The charges in that case were eventually dropped, and he went on to receive the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year.

Unfortunately the list goes on, including Darryl Strawberry's drug addiction, Pete Rose's gambling addiction, OJ Simpson's murder trial, and Mike Tyson who nearly bit off the ear of Evander Holyfield during a boxing match.

World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Hasim 'Rock' Rahman (C) is greeted by fans 25 April 2001 at city hall in Baltimore, MD, during a parade celebrating Rahman's victory over Lennox Lewis of Britain.

Fortunately, the sporting world has delivered a few exemplary athletes, most notably and most recently Hasim Rahman, the new world heavyweight boxing champion. The new boxing champ dedicated his newly won crown to Islam after a sensational upset victory over Lennox Lewis in Johannesburg Sunday.

Rahman, who prays five times a day, is a devoted husband and father. He is a dedicated athlete and sincerely devoted to his religion.

Speaking to reporters a few hours after the fight, Rahman said his faith drove him to glory.

"I thank Allah for this, for giving me the belief in myself to achieve this," said the 28-year-old practicing Muslim from Baltimore.

"This means so much to me, to my people, to my religion. I hope it will inspire Muslims from around the world. I hope I can be a role model for Muslims."

Indeed, Rahman will be a positive role model for Muslims. It is hopeful that he will also be a good role model to all children, regardless of their faith.


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