Peter Crouch and Wayne Rooney: two fantastic footballers recently hitting the headlines of national newspapers. However, instead of being praised for their sporting talent, Crouch and Rooney are the latest young sportsmen to be shamed for their adulterous behaviour. When reading the articles detailing their affairs, of course I felt sorry for their wives and girlfriends, but I couldn’t help but wonder how their behaviour is altering society’s perception of young sportsmen.
During England’s victorious year of 1966, the likes of Geoff Hurst and Bobby Moore were recognised for their sporting prowess, yet almost fifty years on, footballers are increasingly being recognised for their unfaithfulness off the pitch. Although footballers are the ones most often in the scrutinising glare of the media, many other sportsmen are part of the presumed ‘cheating rat’ club. Earlier this year, the squeaky clean golfing legend, Tiger Woods, shattered his image of a devoted family man, with stories emerging of his multiple affairs, consequently leading many people to question the integrity of today’s sportsmen.
Starting out in any career can be tough but being preconceived a cheat and a liar is unfair for a young man trying to make it in the world of sport. In so many careers, professional and private lives can easily be separated, therefore it seems unfair that this is not the case in sport. However, as representatives of their country, sportsmen have a duty to, not only play their best, but to set an example to young fans who idolise them. I do feel sorry for aspiring young sportsmen as they train long and hard to ultimately enter a career in which they may be judged before they have even stepped onto the field or hit their first ball. Sport requires an enormous amount of both time and effort with only a few making it to the top, therefore surely we should be expecting success and commitment rather than just assuming another bout of disappointment and betrayal? However, with story after story of another sportsman’s adultery, I can understand why people hold this preconceived opinion of aspiring stars.
Furthermore, without wanting to sound like my grandma, the appalling behaviour of these men does make me question the significance of marriage in our society. Many of the sportsmen accused of adultery are engaged or married, suggesting that this life-long commitment is not taken anywhere near as seriously as it should be. Whilst highlighting the lax attitude towards marriage, sport is distracting us from appreciating the game, whether it is football, rugby, cricket or golf. Like Abigail Clancy, Colleen Rooney and Elin Nordegren, fans will have felt deceived by these men who appeared to be faithful fiancés and husbands, making it hard for us to see them in the same light again.
However, the behaviour of Crouch, Rooney and Woods does not reflect that of all sportsmen, therefore we should judge new stars on their sporting ability and not on the behaviour of other people. As the saying goes, you can’t tar them all with the same brush. So, boys, correct the unfair assumption that young sportsmen are lying cheats and do England proud because, not only do we need to change people’s opinions of up-and-coming stars, but we desperately need to win something, be it Wimbledon or the World Cup!