Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Helmet Thing

So here's the thing.

When you're a professional athlete, you're going to be at least somewhat of a role model. You don't have to like that, but it's going to happen no matter what you do. Which is why people treat it as such a big deal when someone's caught for putting some alkaloid or another up their nose. Less so if the person is a washed-up "ballplayer" that looks really pathetic and that no one actually has any good memories of. I think you know who I'm talking about here. Kids see you and think that if they act like you, they'll be cool like you. It's not a new phenomenon.

Arguably, Ben Roethlisberger isn't a good role model anyway for seven year olds. But sweet mother, if this guy can't wear a motorcycle helmet. I was one of those that thought that nothing would ever happen to actually necessitate a helmet, because, I think, Ben Roethlisberger is already such a huge part of Pittsburgh lore and because that's not something you tend to think about coming off of a Super Bowl win. Of course, it has come to something, which resulted in the condition that the Chicago Tribune led yesterday with a report on Fatah violence, the NYTimes led with a preview of Bush's visit to Iraq today, and the Post-Gazette led with Roethlisberger in font about triple the size of the other two sites.

I get the impression that, in addition to the disregard for his own safety for the feeling of freedom on the road (and here's where I admit that I'm officially feeling old, as I thought "those damn kids" when I typed that, and felt very wary about the possibility that they might be on my lawn), he doesn't quite get how important it is to the City of Pittsburgh to stay healthy. Economic downturns over the past several years, controversy over the rapidly shrinking youth population, division as is requisite with being one of three centers in Pennsylvania that vote to the left of center (and do so strongly enough that Pennsylvania has gone to the Democratic nominee in 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004) and the one thing that people are going to be able to come together over is sports, hatred of Cleveland being a corrolary. Sure, some are strictly Bucs fans, some are strictly Steelers fans and some are strictly Pens fans. And sure, I laughed aloud typing the last three words of that last sentence, but the Steelers have done what hasn't happened in Pittsburgh since, well, 1992, effectively relaying to a whole new generation of fans what it feels like to be champions.

When the quarterback of the damn team goes around jeopardizing that despite pleads from the team and Terry Bradshaw, incidentally, I don't think his decision to appear nude in Failure to Launch should affect the fact that he's right on this, though it does affect my ability to look at Terry Bradshaw without feeling ill, you shouldn't, probably, continue to do that.

Also, he had no license. Good job. Criticism is permitted, I think, as a result of the fact that he's got a few broken teeth, a jaw that's not having a good time, and as none of the injuries were life threatening. So yes. Of course, everyone's happy that he's going to be ok, and that he's probably going to be able to play next year, but what happened, even if the actual accident wasn't at fault, is not something to be excused lightly.


Che said...

I agree with all your points here. I'll also admit that, though I wasn't too impressed with Ben's decision to not wear a helmet, I never dreamed that the accident would actually happen. Maybe I'm just naive.

And I know this is badly off-topic, but... apparently, though Pittsburgh has a rivalry with Cleveland, many Philadelphia Eagles fans believe that there is some sort of Philadelphia-Pittsburgh rivalry. Weird, huh?

-Murphy said...

I think it's pretty natural to buy into the fact that it can't happen to us, and to kind of trust Ben when he thinks he's invincible. I know I never really saw it coming.

I like the idea of a Steagles rivalry, as it could actually be realized in a Super Bowl, but there's the same problem the Pirates run into with the lack of rivalry with the Indians. Being in a separate league, it's hard to build up a rivalry worth anything, as we never play them. I'd really like to see a Bucs-Phils rivalry, but with us in the Central and the Phils in the East, that's hard to get going either. The "rivalry" right now is like ... what? Then again, I know a bunch of people from Erie that hate the Steelers, so maybe that's just popular back in PA.

Good times though.

Rory said...

I have that "Drink Like a Champion Today" shirt. It gets me ladies.