By Joe Giordano || Assistant Sports Editor
Last week, I wrote an article praising Peyton Manning for being a class act both on and off the field and that he went out the way he should have, as a champion. However, in light of recent events that have reared their ugly head, it is important to realize that even those who seem perfect on the surface may not be as they appear. Such is the case with the Broncos quarterback.
It has recently come to light that while Manning was in college at the University of Tennessee, he sexually assaulted a female trainer. She has accused Manning of pressing his buttocks and genitals against her face while she was examining him for an on-field injury. Manning denied the incident as a form of sexual assault but rather claimed that it was merely horseplay. The university eventually settled the case brought against Manning for $300,000.
However, whether this is a case of sexual assault or of locker room horseplay is entirely irrelevant. Men, specifically male athletes, have a duty to respect women and treat them with both class and dignity. Whether Manning claims he was simply fooling around or not, he is still very much in the wrong. Treating women with respect and dignity is something all men should take very seriously. High-level athletes, specifically those of the caliber of Peyton, should hold this to an even higher standard than most.
The main difference between most men and Peyton Manning is that thousands of impressionable kids look up to him. Kids go out in their backyards and pretend to be just like Peyton Manning, mimicking both his passing technique and his post game interviews. If a young boy were to hear that Peyton had done this act to a woman and heard him declare that it was all in fun, the young boy would believe it was acceptable to do such actions simply because Peyton said it wasn’t a big deal. In reality, this is a huge deal and the act and its implications need to be given more attention and discussion.
While I still believe Peyton should be commended for the way he carried himself during his career, his actions in college must be fresh in everyone’s minds to show that even he is capable of wrongdoing. Many kids look up to professional athletes as heroes and in all reality how they appear may not truly be how they are. While for some kids it was Peyton, others could have looked up to other athletes who have let them down and I think this is a sad fact. It is okay to look up to and admire professional athletes for their feats of strength, athleticism, and endurance; however, one shouldn’t look to them as personal heroes. Heroes should be people like parents, police officers, firefighters, and so many others who look to shape the kids’ lives for the better.
Even the most seemingly perfect athlete has his or her flaws, and some of this is enabled because we have created a culture in which athletes are respected as untouchable and the top of society. We place more weight on winning and losing in today’s society than on a person’s character. It is important that kids continue to find heroes who won’t let them down and, unfortunately, until the day comes where society places importance on character over skill, these heroes cannot always be athletes.
Sophomore Joe Giordano is the Assistant Sports Editor. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org