Butler County Times Gazette
  • Costello: Character in players is as important as anything

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  • Just when baseball was able to start to forget about the steroids era, at least to some degree, Milwaukee's Ryan Braun gets busted for using PEDs.
    Sadly, fans were probably chasing fool's gold if they thought all those problems were solved or done with. Players in all sports do whatever they can to get that extra edge (and let's face it, those are usually money-driven), which often times involves crossing lines that result in penalties like 65-game bans and a permanent negatitive connotation to that player's name.
    Sad thing is, Braun makes so much money anyway he probably won't even feel too much of a hit to his bank account (plus, the Brewers definitely aren't going to the playoffs this season, so he doesn't even have that to miss). He might get booed for a short time, but people forgive and move on, which is fine in some respects.
    But where has the character in sports gone?
    What incentive do "well-behaved" athletes have?
    You hear a lot of times how coaches at a high school level talk about their players as "a good kid" in general. That is not something to toss aside; rather, it needs to be a higher priority.
    The worth of an athlete goes far beyond the points per game or strength of said athlete. The way a kid behaves around his or her teammates, how they respect their coaches, how they are driven by a strong work ethic even when they are starters, and even how they handle wins and losses say far more about that person as an athlete than a vertical leap or hitting power. Ideally, these kinds of values never take a backseat to winning.
    Unfortunately, that isn't true for most. They would rather soak up the fame and make the money than earn the respect of their peers, a respect that is completely lost when something like Braun's scandal comes about.
    It's understandable that athletes are competitive by nature. Heck, that's good. But the old adage is true: it's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game. And if you play the game by cheating or losing sight of true values, that's when problems arise.
    It's unfortunate for the kids who look up to these pro and even college players as role models. They tailor their game to match their favorite players' style. They watch every game, they memorize every stat. They dream someday of becoming the next version of that athlete. And while athletes make mistakes like everyone else, cheating isn't something that's easily tolerated. Forgivable, yes, but not necessarily redeemable (there is a difference). It's good to look up to someone, but it can be disappointing. Hopefully younger athletes have the right motivation and values when they compete in sports.
    Page 2 of 2 - I'm just saying.
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