Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Temptation and Athletes

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Temptation and Athletes

Article excerpt

'It's a shame," said my barber, Larry, as we picked up on Lawrence Taylor's arrest for buying a packet of cocaine from a government agent in an Atlanta sting operation. "He was such a great player. He had the world in his fist."

Now, the barbershop as an American institution is not a place to elicit much sympathy. Respect for family and the missus may be pro forma. But in sports and politics no one is given any quarter. Individual athletes get respect for what they do; in this barbershop, not even the Boston teams get a free fan-loyalty ride.

So it was interesting that Taylor, the recently retired linebacker for the New York Giants, whom we had seen seriously injure Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann with one crushing tackle, would at least get the benefit of a "too bad" call on his arrest.

The conversation quickly turned to Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin, whose presence in a hotel room with a friend, two women, and drugs is under investigation; and Butch Hobson, the former Red Sox manager charged when a friend, from whom Hobson was expecting payment for a debt, mailed him a packet of cocaine.

This is not to judge the matter of the guilt, setup, or innocence of any of these sports figures. Let's hope that they're all found clean. But it is to acknowledge that as citizens we feel something like a punch when we hear of people we "know" as gladiators, people of remarkable gifts, challenged if not shattered, either by drugs per se or by some all-to-common process.

In Greek mythology, Narcissus is the handsome youth who, after the death of Echo, is transfixed by his own image in a spring. (She pines away until only her voice is left, because Narcissus pays no attention to her.) He is so taken with his reflected likeness that he is lulled to sleep, falls into the pool, and drowns. …

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