« Home | NCAA Baseball Tourney » | First Blog Post! GT v. Notre Dame & Old Rivals »

In Defense of Fan Apathy

Dave at Maize n Brew has a thoughtful piece about the way football players "vanish" after their careers. In it, he laments the cruelty of the abrupt end of football careers, illustrated by the example of Tony Boles, a standout RB for Michigan.

Football players have developed a sort of "throwaway" nature, in the attitudes of fans. There is always some lip service when players experience tragedies, and the crowd always applauds when a hurt player gets up, but their problems are quickly forgotten.

So why is there this lack of "real" caring for players and their problems? First, what high-profile athletes live is not real life. Much like Hollywood actors, athletes make unrealistic amounts of money (after college) for a pretty easy job. Why should a hard-working middle American feel bad that someone else is no longer an entertainer, since that's what pro athletes basically are?

So should we feel more sympathy for college athletes who go down, since they've not had the opportunity to make the big bucks? Absolutely not. That's why they're in college; so that if--or, more often, when--their pro sports careers don't pan out, they will have a degree to help start some other career.

And what's more, people don't have the time or energy to "really" care about players. We all have enough hardship in our lives, we don't need to stack others' on top. Football is supposed to be fun! We buy tickets to see a game, not to get swept into a soap opera.

I don't mean to suggest that athletes deserve no sympathy when faced with struggle or tragedy, just that their role as entertainers does not entitle them to more sympathy/support than others receive. But chances are, they will receive more support. If I break my leg, or my Dad gets shot, or whatever, then my buddies will feel for me. If some athlete has a problem, there will be some level of outpouring from some fan(s) somewhere, in addition to family & friend support.

Maybe I'm too cynical, or maybe I'm bitter that I can't make millions by throwing a ball. But I think athletes have it pretty good. Get your fifteen minutes of fame, experience some glory, and when it's over, you've just got to make a living like everybody else.