Since Luis Suarez made that now infamous decision to viciously bite an opposing player in the World Cup there have been sporadic reports of copy-cat attacks by children. Given the clear impact these athletes have as role models for younger people, is it not time we began to treat the highly paid sports figures the same way as we treat everyone else?
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew was fined £100,000 for headbutting another player in March, yet this attack would result in criminal charges if it were perpetrated on the streets. Similarly, Suarez has committed an assault, yet neither punishments for these two highly paid figures will amount to criminal charges or any serious change to their luxurious lifestyles. Pardew’s fine would be substantial for anyone else, yet given the incredibly high pay levels in to tier football this figure is minuscule.
But only is this behaviour unsportsmanlike and dangerous to those involved, but it brings out a savage and barbaric streak in the actions of impressionable young children who clearly emulate their heroes behaviour. The decadence of premier league football has led to affairs, drink driving charges and racism to become inextricably linked to the privilege of being a professional athlete, yet this hedonistic lifestyle is unattainable for so many that it begs the question of why are we treating sports as if it exists in an isolated bubble. Clearly the repercussions of these actions are widespread, yet punishments are nearly non-existent.
…it brings out a savage and barbaric streak…
We have seen in recent weeks how pop stars like One Direction and Justin Bieber have behaved without a care for their fans, but now we face a generation who idolise racists, drug taking, thugs who act without forethought. The next generation should be pitied if this is what they see as acceptable, and until authorities intervene to show that violence is never acceptable, we face a disconcerting future.
While some may say that this is not a new phenomena, and they may be right to say that, we do live in a brave new world where social media gives us unprecedented access into the lives of celebrities. This is a world where a footballer is judged not only on how performance but on the appearance of his partner, the state of his social or romantic life or the clothes he wore on holiday. Celebrity culture is a clear and imminent threat to children now, and until there is a concerted and united effort to change how we view celebrities this scourge is likely to continue.
…social media gives us unprecedented access into the lives of celebrities…
Biting is an absolutely reprehensible form of attack; it requires using an relatively intimate organ to damage someone. Suarez followed this abhorrent deed with a blatant lie; again his capacity as a negative role model is displayed. These overpaid, arrogant, thugs are not people we should seek to emulate. John Terry and Ryan Giggs had affairs, and Terry shares the the title with Suarez when it comes to despicable behaviour for a role model through his racist abuse of Anton Ferdinand. Suarez is not an isolated incident, the world of football is overflowing with undesirable social ills, and until professionals acknowledge that they have a crucial role to play, then this problem will remain rife in society.