Our sports heroes not role models/Paul Peterson

The sports headlines that greet us every day are depressing to say the least.

Hardly a day passes that some professional athlete isn’t being arrested on one charge or another … or some illegal act is being alleged against them.

It’s been said, not entirely in jest, that a courts and legal section should be included daily in the sports pages.

While the arrest of Aaron Hernandez of the New England Patriots on murder charges has grabbed the bulk of recent headlines, there are are countless other incidents taking place.

Many, admittedly, are less benign than the one involving Hernandez, who will likely need O.J. Simpson’s lawyers – and jury – to get off.

Whether the cases be drunk driving, drug use, violence or whatever, they all send a very poor message to our young people.

Even the doping charges in sports are harmful. While taking hormone injections and performance enhancing drugs to muscle up may seem like small potatoes, they carry their share of damage.

Take the recent case of a young football player in Texas who wanted to look like one of his muscle-bound heroes. He ended up taking too many injections and ended up in a coma – his life and future in serious doubt. And that is not an isolated case.

The accusations leveled against major league baseball players like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGuire and others will have serious consequences on their Hall of Fame chances.

There is little doubt that Bonds and Clemens would have been first-ballot, slam-dunk selections for a trip to Cooperstown, N.Y.

Because of their connection to the steroid scandal, it’s doubtful that we’ll ever see either one get there. In this case, perception is reality.

The saga of cyclist Lance Armstrong is another case that leaves us scratching our heads.

Armstrong, who beat cancer to dominate as the Tour de France champion, steadfastly denied drug charges for years.

He was admired worldwide for his determination and tenacity in the face of long odds, but came out last year and admitted he was juiced while racing.

His legacy, like Bonds and Clemens, is forever tarnished.

Yes, there are still some good guys in sports. Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels, Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees, Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers and PGA golfer Phil Mickelson are good examples.

All of them donate freely to charitable organizations and give plenty of time to their fans.

But their efforts are being overshadowed by their “bad apple” counterparts, who are filling the police blotters at an alarming pace.

Ands that’s not what pro athletes are supposed to be about.