Back in the day, I was a huge Charles-"I Am NOT A Role Model"-Barkley fan. In a 21st Century context, aside from the occasional fight with some dude in a bar, Sir Charles was seemingly pretty well behaved.
A few years ago, while listening to sports radio program that was pooh-poohing the allegations of spousal abuse against NBA player Jason Kidd, I decided to call in. It will sound unbelievable, but the conversation went something like this:
Radio Host: Do you believe that the general manager should even have an opinion of Jason Kidd's off-the-court actions?
Me: Well, yes. I mean, in my opinion if a manager thinks a player is a bad person who represents his team in a negative light, then they should be able to fire them.
Radio Host: So, do you think Jason Kidd is a bad person?
Me: ... Huh? ...YES!
Radio Host: That's harsh man.
Maybe it's just me, but I have a hard time watching a wife-beater play basketball. I just do.
I don't follow televised sports much. The last I heard, quarterback Michael Vick was a suspect in a dog-fighting ring - yeah, I know I'm out of the loop. Just in case you're as behind the times as I am, Vick was convicted and served time in prison. He is now back and dominating the competition in the NFL. The following article, in my opinion, is worth a read if you're a fan of football, or dogs: Dog Owner Can't Forgive Michael Vick
Fair or not, in the modern age, the public figure is under greater scrutiny than ever. And, if you think that scrutiny is too much now, wait 10 or 20 years - it will be even greater as future stars' every Facebook update and tweet on Twitter are searched, dissected, and archived.
What do you think? Do your heros and gurus need to be virtuous? Are the actions of coaches and athletes off of the field something fans should care about?