Via Baseball Think Factory, we learn of the existence of a new book about fathers, sons, baseball and … steroids:
Freelance writer Jim Gullo loves baseball and he wanted his son Joe to love it too. So, in the spring of 2007, he bought seven year old Joe a glove, a bat and a ball, and got him started collecting cards where they lived on Bainbridge Island near Seattle … Then in December, the Mitchell report named 89 players likely to have used steroids and other performance enhancing drug sand Joe’s questions changed:”It says that baseball players took drugs to make them better?” And, “Isn’t it cheating?”
Joe also wanted to know if the players who took drugs would be punished. But his dad didn’t have any answers — so the two went looking for them. The result is a physical and emotional journey that Jim chronicles in his new book, “Trading Manny: How a Father and Son Learned to Love Baseball Again.”
There’s an excerpt there if you’re curious.
As for the book: Oof. Look, I’m a father of a six-year-old boy and I get the whole father-son thing pretty well. You want to bond over things and you want to answer your son’s difficult questions and you want them to always have hope that the world is a great place and that it doesn’t suck.
But I also know that if I was worried that professional athletes taking drugs would lead to either (a) my son’s loss of innocence; or (b) “an emotional journey,” I’d reassess the primacy of sports in our relationship.
People do dumb things. People cheat. Kids should know that. They should also know that athletes aren’t heroes or role models. And in my view, any parent who sets up a paradigm in which athletes either have to be role models or, when they don’t act like it, a serious soul searching is required, is making a mistake in their kids’ upbringing.
Yeah, I said it. Sorry if that pisses anyone off, but I’m pretty freaking adamant about the lunacy of having professional athletes-as-role-models. Parents and guardians and siblings and real people who face real everyday challenges are role models.
Even if my kids and I enjoy professional sports as a pastime, the participants — people who live a unique and privileged existence in which the decision to take drugs or not could mean millions — are not living any kind of life that holds lessons for my children.