Floyd Landis, Tiger Woods, Lawrence Taylor, Alex Rodriquez, Etc.: A "Tough" Life!!!

Phonak's team rider Floyd Landis of the U.S. wears the leader's yellow jersey on the podium after the 15th stage of the 93rd Tour de France cycling race between Gap and L'Alpe D'Huez, in this July 18, 2006 file photo. Landis has sent a series of e-mails to cycling officials and sponsors admitting to the use of performance enhancing drugs, the Wall Street Journal reported on May 20, 2010. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini /Files Reuters (FRANCE - Tags: SPORT CYCLING)

As a high school physical education teacher (former athlete and coach) at a prominent high school in the suburbs, I have the wonderful opportunity to exchange ideas and debate thoughts with those of similar background.

These are individuals in charge of, or involved in (at one time or another), successful high school athletic programs; some of whom played college sports, semi-pro sports, or lost opportunity to go pro due to injury.

TP_301781_CASS_arod_12.BRIAN CASSELLA | Times.(02/17/2009 TAMPA) Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez holds a press conference on Tuesday Photo via Newscom

It was during a recent lunch hour that a small group of us began a discussion on current event headlines and news stories of some of our most outstanding elite level athletes. You know the ones:

- Floyd Landis - steroids & Lance Armstrong accusations
- Alex Rodriguez - steroids
- Tiger Woods - sexual escapades & steroid accusations
- Michael Vick - dog fighting
- Lawrence Taylor - rape charge
- Kobe Bryant - alleged sexual assault
- And for sheer lack of ink, let's just use "Etc."

Our conversation centered on how tough it must be for these guys, individuals who have women, money, prizes, fame (along with numerous other extrinsic rewards) thrown at them, to stay ethically grounded and make good character choices. That when people, athletes

UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 10:  Tiger Woods  (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images)

notwithstanding, are treated to such extravagance - entitlement, greed, and corrupt behavior is a likely result.

Since that afternoon lunch, I have had several days to mull over our conversation and, I must admit, I do have to agree with the last sentence in that paragraph above. It does seem to bear out that when some people, maybe many people, are placed high on a pedestal - reaping grandiose external rewards, that decisions and choices they make tend to demonstrate a poor sense of conscience.

However, that word tough highlighted above - as in hard to do, just doesn't seem to hold any real meaning.

Seriously, does anyone believe that life is actually tough for someone to resist women throwing themselves at them, that existence is exceptionally difficult for athletes of this stature because they have too much money and are famous?

Sure, maybe keeping their lives private is easier said than done, but really tough - as in adverse - giving some type of justification for the behavior we read so much about?

I don't know? I just have a very hard time swallowing that.

Bethany Hamilton. 2009 ASP WQS 6 Star US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, California on July 22, 2009. Photo via Newscom

If the above is true, and living the life of a premier athlete is truly something as difficult as some might portray, then where on the scale of unfavorable conditions do individuals like these fit?

- Dustin Carter - a wrestler without arms (highlighted here)
- Wilma Rudolph - polio victim who went on to win 3 gold medals in track (highlighted here, at #1 on the list)
- Jim MacLaren - All-American Football Player & aspiring model/actor who had 2 mind boggling incidents happen to him (highlighted here, Kleenex a must)
- Bethany Hamilton - still becoming a pro surfer after losing an arm to tiger shark (highlighted here, at #2 on the list)

Thumbnail image for Jim MaClaren.jpg

Photo courtesy of Jim MacLaren

And what about the few nameless inner-city kids who made it through gang-riddled environments and poorer quality schools to become successful businessmen, entrepreneurs, teachers, lawyers, athletes, etc., pulling themselves out of poverty to create a life of finer destiny for them and their offspring.

What about them?

Where do people facing true, real, and tough life situations like these fit on the continuum of adversity?

Is there really any comparison?

I leave you with that final piece as food for thought.

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