Joe Paterno, Plaxico Burress, Dick Cheney, Lauren Cook, Jim Tressel, Tiger Woods……all have one thing in common – They are victims of success. Paterno and Cook have been the latest big names to surface with law-related issues. Cook, a volleyball star at the University of Nebraska, was charged with a felony for leaving the scene of an injury accident. Paterno, an iconic figure in Penn State history, has been linked to the child-sex abuse case of former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.
All of the aforementioned public figures have made a simple mistake that an regular person could. Paterno alerted the athletic director when he learned of a potential problem, but failed to alert police. Burress took a handgun into a nightclub, something that isn’t all that uncommon, and suffered a self-inflicted gun shot wound. Cheney accidentally shot someone he was hunting with. Cook continued on after sideswiping a motorcyclist before calling police to check on the accident. Tressel failed to turn his players in for receiving what the NCAA calls “improper benefits” from a local tattoo parlor. Woods committed adultery.
All of these situations are simple decisions that change the life and the legacy of the individual. They are also situations that happen more often than most probably know. Not everyone is caught. Not everyone has to be all over the news when they make a poor decision. One thing is for sure, you can bet they all wish they could have a chance to do it again. Many people get a second chance without dealing with the scrutiny. Not these folks. They are forever linked with their poor decision.
Lauren Cook, for instance, could begin play this weekend for a team that she helped climb to the top spot in the nation, but it won’t be without many people arguing she should be kicked off the team for what she did. The night the news broke of Cook’s accident all you had to do was search her name on Twitter and you could see the negative comments directed toward her. People commented that she was “a terrible person”. In reality she wasn’t a terrible person. She was the victim of being scared and not thinking clearly at the time of the incident. Cook was charged with a felony, but it could be dropped with the completion of a diversion program. The setter for the No. 2-ranked Cornhuskers could be back to action very soon.
Paterno is, without a doubt, the hottest name in sports right now after the child-sex abuse scandal was revealed. The coach did what he was legally obligated to do when he learned of the situation, but because it was not morally right people are calling for his ouster.
For the record, I do not believe what these people did was the right
thing to do. All of them have or will face the consequences for their actions. Why is it, though, that we spend so much energy as a society to try and dethrone the successful. People who make these mistakes and don’t hold a position with authority have to deal with their situations but they don’t have to do it with a thousand people breathing down their neck. Is it because of the image it could leave behind? Or is it simply because we are a jealous society that thrive off the failures of the successful? Some will argue that these people put themselves in this position. While that is partially true, they also are in these positions because they have God-given abilities that they chose to make the most of. There are many people who would have loved to have an opportunity to be in these higher up positions. However, when you don’t work for it and/or catch a few breaks it is impossible to attain these dreams and goals.
You can dislike people in this world for many reasons. You can dislike them for their choices. You can dislike them because of who they represent. For those you dislike, I’m sure you have a reason. But it is ridiculous that we continue to cheer to see others fail.
Some will sit and argue that these people had wrong doing and “I would’ve done the right thing”. It is very easy to sit here in our simple lives and say what we would or wouldn’t have done in a given situation. Most of the people who do this have never been in a spot light even close to these people. You live a simple life. You don’t have to worry about the media and many other things.
The next time you make a mistake or a poor decision and you want someone to forgive you or you want a second chance think of the times where you didn’t want someone of power to have a second chance.
Now, do you deserve one?