Michael Vick Is Latest Example of Sports Stars Taking Money, Talent and Fame for Granted

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Is it just me or are sports scandals in America epidemic?

Quarterback Michael Vick may have tossed his last pro football pass, accused of despicable animal cruelty.

Referee Tim Donaghy has blown his last whistle for allegedly "fixing" basketball games.

And that's just the last few days.

Baseball's Barry Bonds, whose head is as big as a Buick, looks like the poster child for steroid abuse. Almost no one doubts he's been cheating to beat Hank Aaron's homerun record.

The Tour de France should be renamed the "Tour Disgrace" for all the doped-up cyclists.

Pro-wrestling is a three-ring circus of cartoonishly pumped-up freaks.

The sport of track and field is littered with syringes.

And now even golfing great Gary Player says he "knows for a fact" that at least 10 players are doping.

I understand why Jean Valjean would steal a loaf of bread to feed his family. But why would sports figures who make millions of dollars cheat and commit crimes? I don't get it.

These are people blessed with enormous talent. They're showered with adulation and richly rewarded. Why is it they have no sense of responsibility?

Maybe it's because Americans idolize sports figures too much. Maybe we pay them too much. And maybe those athletes have never heard the biblical phrase: "To whom much is given, much is expected." Privilege begets responsibility.

The gift of talent is a vehicle for excellence in life. These are lessons we teach our children. We should also teach them that the bloated culture of sports celebrity is not the stuff of heroes.

Real heroes are among us in our everyday lives: the teacher who spends hours of his own time helping a troubled student; the doctor who saves a child's life; the mother and father who make countless sacrifices to ensure a child has all the love, opportunity and support in the world. Those are my heroes because those things happened to me.

Look around. You'll see your own heroes everywhere.

That's My Word.

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