Putting players on pedestals, only to watch them fall

By Jasmine White
Birmingham, Ala.

For a moment, Riley Cooper got lost in all the celebrity. The money, the fame, adoration by millions all over the country—it appears that he found the glamor of it all seductive. But in recent weeks, it seems that Cooper has finally gotten a wakeup call: Fans leave just as easily as they emerge.

The Philadelphia Eagles player has been the center of controversy ever since a video of him at a Kenny Chesney concert surfaced where he threatened to jump a fence and “fight every n— [there].” He took to Twitter, following the video’s release, to apologize. Cooper had been drinking that night, and became angry when an African-American security guard wouldn’t allow him backstage. He received a fine in an undisclosed amount and was excused for four days before returning to practice on Tuesday.

So now it’s time to point the finger. Who’s the bad guy in this case? Some would argue that it’s obviously Cooper. But what about all the people who had been building this guy up to make him think he was some sort of god? And at 25 years old, with millions of dollars in his pocket and the world seemingly at his fingertips, what reason did he have not to believe it?

Football players are held up as American heroes, their egos filled with distortion every minute of their commercial lives. The rapidly expanding industry of exhorting young players with a few signed-off checks in exchange for a few signed-off lives only encourages this behavior. And this vicious cycle among players, fans and team owners continually spins.

This is not to say that Cooper shouldn’t take responsibility for his actions. He’s an adult with the full capacity to think things through, but this incident also raises the question of whether fans should take a step back from putting their idols up on pedestals. Maybe then there wouldn’t be such disappointment when they inevitably fall.

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