Professional athletes have always been in the public eye. They are idolized by fans of all ages for the talent they bring to the game and are just as famous and wealthy as celebrities. But lately, athletes have been known more for their celebrity-like social life than the talent they bring to the teams that they play for.
Recently, former LA Lakers star Lamar Odom was found unre- sponsive in a Nevada brothel. He luckily survived what could have ended his life, but the way in which the situation was handled by the media added insult to injury. When covering the story, news outlets paid more attention to Odom’s social life and life as Khloe Kardashian’s husband than anything else he accomplished in the world of basketball or the road blocks life threw at him.
Numerous stories even referred to Odom as an ex-reality star with headlines reading “Reality star ex-husband of Khloe Kardashian found unresponsive in Nevada brothel.” Clearly there is something wrong here. Who he was married to or what show he was on has nothing to do with what he accomplished while he was an athlete. Sixth Man of the Year, two championship rings, and an Olympic medal can not even compare to being on the cover of gossip magazines and on a reality show on E!.
The way Odom has been perceived has upset a lot of different people. One of those individuals is Scott Van Pelt of ESPN’s SportsCenter. He shared his opinion on the air last week. “Lamar Odom, unlike those for whom fame is oxygen and whose fame comes in the opposite of accomplishment, his fame was earned,” he said. “I understand not everyone watches sports, but Kardashian reality star? His name is Lamar Odom and we knew it. Long before he got married on a TV show we don’t watch.”
Lamar Odom is not the first ath- lete to be treated this way and he definitely will not be the last. Tom Brady is constantly referred to as “Gisele Bundchen’s husband” and Emmit Smith is known around the entertainment world as “That football player that won Dancing With the Stars.”
I am not going to deny that athletes are a part of the entertainment industry. They are on television in primetime spots and often air in different commercials or ad campaigns for the companies that sponsor them. But, unlike your average celebrities whose goal is fame and fortune, athletes have one main goal. That goal is to play the sport they havve been playing since they were kids at a level not many get to. For the most part, their goal is not to be on the cover or backpage of tabloids or be the top story when TMZ comes on. The fame that comes along with being an athlete is not easily attained. It is the result of hours and hours being put into the game. It is not something handed out easily; it is deserved and is based on talent. What it is not based on is how well an athlete is dressed or which socialite they so happen to be dating. Olivia Mulvihill is a journalism major from Allentown, Pa. She can be reached at olivia.mulvihill@stu- dent.shu.edu or on twitter @OliviaMulvihill.