THE RUKUS PERSPECTIVE- LOOKING UP TO A FALLEN HERO
Human growth hormone…Testosterone Replacement Therapy…anabolic supplements…pills…creams…syringes… shall I continue? Whenever I read an article, blog, post or status on the views of PEDs in sports, it always leads to healthy debate. I will say before I go any further that this piece will not focus on the effects of PEDs within the industry from a business standpoint, not from the perspective of an athlete’s health, whether short term or long term, and will not focus on any scientific aspect, for or against or anything of the sort. I am not a doctor so I am not qualified to address this subject within that capacity. However, there is something that rings within myself whenever I hear of someone new testing positive for banned substances that has gone unnoticed for the most part up to this point, and to me, is one of the most important aspects for the future of any sport, whether it be MMA, MLB or the NFL or pro wrestlers in the WWE. In a week where we had Stephan Bonner come forward after being silent for nearly 6 months after testing positive for a banned substance, Lavar Johnson failing his UFC 157 drug test, and Riki Fukuda being cut from the UFC after testing positive for his Fuel TV bout in Japan, it is apparent that the problem is not going away anytime soon. Out of all of the stances and directions we can take to discuss this topic, this is the question that I have……what happens to the kids, the young people who look up to these athletes, who strive to be like them, because for what ever reason, they connect with and look to emulate them? What happens when their hero is outed publicly?
I played baseball when I was coming up. I was a HUGE fan of Major League Baseball in the late 80’s going into the early to mid 90’s. My absolute all time favorite players were Jose Canseco and Bo Jackson. When I think back, Canseco was the Brock Lesnar of MLB at that time. He was “The” attraction. In 1988, he was the first player ever to reach 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in a single season. Whenever I went to bat, I used to feel like I wanted to be like Canseco. I would go through all the motions, his batting stance, his swing. I tried to channel the same power that he displayed when I watched. My wall was plastered with posters that captured his swing, and because of seeing his greatness as a young kid into my early teens, I wanted to be great too. Years later, as an adult, I remember seeing the news where Canseco came out about using anabolic steroids. I remember the moment, I was actually washing dishes after feeding my kids dinner when I heard the news. A complete feeling of disappointment came over me like I had never experienced. At that time, it was mid 2005-ish, and I was a Little League Baseball coach, for 6 years, I coached 4 different teams with up to 100 kids every summer. I remember going to practice, and seeing all of those faces, knowing that they were where I was when I was their age. And even though my coaching did not emulate the way my favorite baseball player played the game, I couldn’t help but feel sad. I was sad about a lot of things. It suddenly made me feel like everything I knew about baseball was a lie. I did not allow it to affect the way I coached my kids at that point, as I always just focused on fundamentals and baseball savvy, but it DID allow me to add another dimension to how I approached coaching. I let the children know of the dangers of cheating, taking short cuts, peer pressure etc.
It stands to wonder though, as an adult, the way that effected me, how is it for the kids of today when their favorite athlete is struck down from his throne? What happens to them? Who is there to help them through the feelings they may have when they put stock into that athlete, in which they wish to emulate greatness? What about those kids who don’t have the communication with their parents necessary to show them that setbacks like this should not deter them from the path they are travelling? I remember the ad campaign that Charles Barkley put out years ago, professing that he was not a role model and should not be perceived as such. Well, it’s an inevitable fact, regardless how much an elite athlete does not want to be a role model, the media places them on a pedestal. And children gravitate towards that which is great, especially in sports.
It is clear that with the meteoric rise and personal accessibility of mixed martial arts fighters that they are fastly becoming pop culture superstars and celebrities in their own right. So as much as you may not want to be a role model, you stand the potential to inadvertently become one. I am well aware that these athletes don’t have to answer to anyone but their families. There are haters and trolls out there that wish to do nothing more than exploit the weakness, mistakes or setbacks of these stars for no other reason than to spew hate. But I have wonder…were there any young “Hulkamaniacs” that approached Terry Bolea after the WWF steroid scandal? If so, how did he respond? I wonder how many aspiring pitchers quit baseball when they heard about Roger Clemens? I wonder how many young BJJ practitioners felt lost when Vitor Belfort tested positive, and years later hearing that he got a TUE for his latest bout? But most of all, who is there to pick up the pieces, when the future of our sport, the young people of martial arts, baseball, football, whatever…finds themselves in a position where they are stuck looking up to a fallen hero?
*Mikey Rukus creates Custom Theme Music and Walkout Music for MMA Companies and Fighters Worldwide- to view his body of work please visit www.soundclick.com/mikeyrukus
*You can also follow Mikey on Twitter: @MikeyRukus
*Mikey has just released the first ever “The Mikey Rukus Remix” Album which is a collection of hit songs that have been re-imagined and re-recorded by Mikey himself. To download it free: http://mmalinks.com/services/mikeyrukus.php
*You can also email Mikey with any questions, comments, concerns, live appearances or speaking engagements at firstname.lastname@example.org