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Sports

February 17, 2013

End of the Innocence: Tragically for our nation's youth, sports heroes are a dying breed

Tragically for our nation's youth, sports heroes are a dying breed

“End of the Innocence

Tragically for our nation’s youth, sports heroes are a dying breed

Didn’t have a care in the world

With mommy and daddy standin’ by

But ‘happily ever after’ fails

And we’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales”

Don Henley’s End of the Innocence

When I was a grade schooler, my uncle, Warren Muldoon, gave me subscriptions to Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News.

I was in heaven. I couldn’t sleep for a day or two before the magazines arrived each week. When they did, I’d read them from cover to cover. Quiz me on my math or English ... straight C’s. But I earned straight A’s in sports.

Those athletes were my heroes and their exploits provided a lifetime of cherished memories. Generations of fans enjoyed similarly blissful sports-filled childhoods.

I wouldn’t want to be a young sports fan today. The innocence is long gone, like a home run by Hammerin’ Hank Aaron.

Now, its nothing but drugs and debauchery. Cheating is the norm right down to the depressing mantra: “If you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying.”

And ESPN, TMZ, Entertainment Tonight and every fan with a cellphone camera is there to chronicle athletes’ glaring shortcomings. Sports talk radio provides around the clock cynicism and the Twitter world is no better.

The past few months have been particularly depressing as the sports gods haven’t left a speck of joy on the carcass that was sports innocence.

Uniquely heartwarming stories that would have inspired youths for generations are now anything but heartwarming.

Manti Te’o, the trailblazing Mormon savior from Hawaii who took a chance and travelled all the way to South Bend, Ind., saved the revered Notre Dame football program.

At last look, though, the Teo saga was a pathetic freak show of Springerian proportions.

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