It’s not easy being an athlete. Masquerading by day with a ton of self-confidence, then languishing at night with the same insecurities the rest of us deal with. No one ever said it was fair. But it’s life.
That said, it doesn’t take a lot to lead an intelligent life. We all make mistakes, but most of us limit our mistakes to parking tickets and accidental Reply-Alls. Our mistakes can be contained. They aren’t published in the local media, they aren’t scrutinized by millions, and they certainly don’t come to define how the world sees us. In an athlete’s case, however, those facets tend to be true.
I’m here today to highlight a few of the stupidest things athletes tend to do. Because intelligence isn’t always inherent, but knowledge can be learned. So if nothing else, consider this a learning experience.
Perhaps the stupidest thing any athlete ever does is hit the “Send” button. My God. There should be a study done to see how many stupid things are transmitted (virtually, not sexually) by athletes each year. And that’s not even just sexts. That’s everything. But more on that later.
First of all, if you don’t know someone that well, don’t send them sexually suggestive messages or pictures of your naked body. That’s just idiotic, and likewise should apply to everyone in society. If you know somebody, trust them, care for them, and are positive they won’t blackmail you somewhere down the line, then feel free to sext away. But if your relationship is casual at best, hold off on hitting “Send.”
Second, if you’re an athlete, you have much more to lose than the average person. And no matter how beautiful the girl you’re trying to get with may be, chances are she’s quite a bit more average in her public standing than you. Why set yourself up for a tremendous fail by succumbing to someone who could ruin your reputation in a matter of seconds? The two minutes you’ll spend jerking off to the return pics, if there are any, aren’t worth the potential scandal that might ensue.
Finally, you are a physically fit, wealthy, successful individual with a stable career (not you, Chone Figgins, but everyone else). If you have to resort to sending short bursts of literotica or JPEGs of your own penis to get a girl, you need to start taking classes on social interaction. You don’t honestly believe that spreading images of your wiener across a 4G connection will land you a girl, do you? Real life doesn’t work that way. At some point, you will need to talk to a lady without making a total ass of yourself. No matter your talent, ability, or financial wherewithal, the difficulty surrounding that task will never cease. So nut up and just do it already. The talking, that is. Not the sexting. Don’t do that. We just went over this. And to recap, it’s stupid.
Get their entire bodies inked
Decades from now, when today’s athletes are senior citizens, they’ll be adorned with saggy renditions of Bible verses, droopy images of a once-high-flying Michael Jordan, and sad-looking logos that illicit more of an “oof” than a “swoosh.” But don’t tell that to them now. Because right now is the era of the tattoo. And whether or not an athlete truly believes in the ink emblazoned upon his body, the popular thing to do is tat first and ask questions later.
Sure, your forearms are covered elbow-to-wrist in Lil’ Wayne lyrics. But how long will Lil’ Wayne really be relevant, anyway? What will happen when your grandkids ask about the importance of YOLO? Will you chalk it up as the mistake it truly was? Or will you lie to them? Either way, there is no easy way out of this situation.
Maybe if you had decorated yourself in something more timeless — like a scene from Return of the Jedi, perhaps — you could justify the ridiculousness that your very own skin will one day become. “Grandpa, grandpa! Can you take off your shirt and show me Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Yoda again? Please, grandpa, please!” You could be a hero to the youth of America. Unless of course you get Hayden Christensen’s likeness stamped alongside Alec Guiness and that glorified muppet. In which case, you should never be allowed near needles again.
Yes, athlete, one day the only thing you’ll want to cover yourself in are long-sleeved t-shirts and full-length pants. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Leave college early
To every rule, there are exceptions. Take Kevin Durant, for instance. You can make a handful of arguments for why that guy should have stayed a full four years at the University of Texas. And for every endorsement deal, every NBA scoring title, and every MVP award he will undoubtedly capture, your arguments will be rebutted. So to say that every athlete shouldn’t leave college early, well, that would be dumb. But I think we can all agree that the Kevin Durants of the world are few and far between. Hence, your typical athlete should do everything he can to stay in school and capitalize on a free education. And yet so often that does not occur.
It’s hard to estimate what a full-ride to a four-year college is really worth, but one study recently aimed to do so. The article, published in USA Today, revealed a $120,000-per-year value in your average men’s basketball scholarship. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the logic behind the research, the fact remains that there is some serious cash behind a comped education for an amateur athlete. Why so many individuals relinquish that cash to chase a pipe dream is both befuddling and disappointing. The aftermath of a failed professional career in one’s sport of choice cannot be so easily quantified as the academic opportunity previously given up.
Post-athletics, your educated former athlete can take his pick of career options. Your uneducated athlete? He’ll likely end up hosting instructional camps, selling cars, working a stockroom, or giving porn a try (assuming he sent out enough sexts in his earlier days). Okay, that’s a bit of a generalization. But nevertheless, the uneducated athlete will have his options severely mitigated by his decision to go pro far too soon.
Is it worth it? If USA Today’s study has any clout, it would be hard to argue against what equates to a $120,000 annual investment. Either way, ask any bust who gave up his free education what he would do if he could do it all over again. I have a hunch a redo would be in order.
Getting back to that whole the-stupidest-thing-an-athlete-can-do-is-hit-“Send” argument, I give you example 1B: Twitter.
The beauty of being a talented athletic specimen is that no one is asking you to speak, write, think, or do anything outside the realm of your job, which you’re really good at by the way. Does that mean you shouldn’t have an opinion or shouldn’t be able to share thoughts? Of course not. It just means that you better prepare to be judged by society for your shortcomings in communication.
Athletes and Twitter go together like cigarettes and gas stations. Sure, every now and then you might be able to get away with a quick smoke while filling up your Elantra. But all it takes is that one time you happen to blow up the local ARCO and your utter stupidity is revealed. You don’t want to carve out a legacy as a dumbass. So put the smokes away. And of course by that I mean stop tweeting.
Thing is, you never hear about an athlete’s Twitter account until he or she says or does something ridiculously idiotic. Deadspin never publishes all the normal, cool, safe things athletes say. That would be boring. It’s like when you watch the news. They never lead with all the people who survived today. Only the people who died. It seems when it comes to athletes and Twitter, there are social suicides committed by the hour.
And it’s not just the offensive or outlandish statements that get athletes in trouble. We form opinions about our favorite players when they can’t spell, when they post messages like pre-pubescents (J/K, LOL!), when they engage in back-and-forths with less-than-reputable women of the evening (aka, Twitter sluts), or when all they do is Retweet self-promoting virtual blowies from their fans. It’s annoying. We hate it. And yes, we judge. Even though athletes will tell you day after day that only God can judge them. But hey, whatever it takes to sleep at night.
So my advice to the athletes is this: Either give up Twitter, or get assistance. We don’t want to see any more #NoDaysOff (you only work six months out of the year, for God’s sake) or #RiseAndGrind (try laying down and grinding, it’s way better) hashtags. We don’t need you filling up our timelines with flirtatious exchanges with strippers. We don’t want you asking questions that can easily be answered by Google. Worse yet, we don’t want you asking us “What’s going down tonight?” at 11:00 p.m. on a weeknight when the rest of us are going to work the next day and you just happen to be enjoying the offseason. Try to think like a normal human being before you Tweet. Just do that. If you do that, there’s hope. If you can’t do that, well, you may just end up blowing up the local ARCO. Legacy, carved.
Don fake eyewear
As someone who is visually impaired, I can honestly say that I feel disrespected when athletes (and we’re primarily talking NBA players here) sport those fake, black, horn-rimmed eyeglasses. I have to wear glasses too, you know. Well, contacts mostly. But still. I don’t have a choice. Without those corrective lenses, I CAN’T READ! Can you say the same thing, athlete? Nooooo. So why are you mocking me? I don’t go around wearing compression shorts or size 16 sneakers or mouthguards. I don’t do that shit. Because it looks goofy and might make you feel insecure about your work apparel or your gigantic bear claw feet. I’m doing my best to respect you. Yet you cannot return the sentiment.
Years from now, when video evidence of these fake eyeglasses still exists, how are historians going to explain the year 2012 to the laypeople? Was everyone visually impaired back then, people will ask? Was there a glaucoma outbreak? Did the bright lights of stadiums and arenas damage the corneas of basketball’s superstars?
I don’t know how others plan to explain this odd phenomenon to the younger generation. But I have my explanation already drawn up. You know how they say when you play with it too much you go blind? Sexting…masturbation…blindness…glasses. There you go, kids. There’s your reason.