With all the noise about Tiger Woods and his multiple indiscretions this year, another story involving another athlete seems to have gotten buried. Basketball star Ron Artest, currently an LA Laker, has admitted to drinking cognac (a strong alcohol) during games. According to an interview with Sporting News Magazine in January, Artest admitted that he drank the liquor while playing for the Chicago Bulls (1999-2002), and kept it in his locker. At half-time, apparently, he would hit the bottle.
He admits that a lot of his behavior was due to his being, in his words, “a head case” when he first hit the NBA scene with the Bulls, and that he has changed somewhat. But, the constant idolization of these so-called “sports heroes” tend to cause more problems than they are worth if a sudden fall from grace should occur.
This idoization goes back to even the days of Babe Ruth baseball legend of the early 20th Century. Back then it might have seemed a little glamorous for “the Babe” to take a little nip from the flask he carried before he stepped up and knocked one out of the park. Athletes thought nothing of being pictured with a whiskey in their hand and a fat cigar sticking out of their mouths, and kids looked up to them. It was a different time back then; a time that we have since learned wasn’t necessarily good for our collective health.
This new admission from Artest and the state of affairs (no pun intended) that Woods has found himself in, should serve as a testament that our “heroes” are really just humans, like ourselves, and just as fallable as anyone else to addictions like alcohol, drugs, and sex. Perhaps if we viewed them that way, we wouldn’t have to be so disappointed with them, and with ourselves for spending so much time revering them, when they take a tumble off that pedestal.