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Why do outstanding athletes choose to self-destruct?

Bill Ellis

I enjoyed watching the football bowl games at the end of 2009 and beginning of 2010, the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals just won by the Los Angeles Lakers and now parts of baseball games each week and maybe all of a game the New York Yankees are playing. I enjoy sports so much, and have since I was a young child, that I have to put a limit on how much time I invest in these games.

I must admit that I am not a devoted fan. I usually do at least one or two other things if I am watching a sporting event. Read newspapers, magazines, glance at books and often tune in so I get the last quarter, the last two innings, or the final nine holes. I want to see the end result.

It has been my privilege to meet many college and professional stars over the years. Some are among the finest people I have ever known. They complete their careers and finish well. An unusually high number fail. They bail out, fold under pressure, cannot handle wealth, temptations and celebrity. They succumb to sexual immorality, become alcoholics and fall prey to drugs.

Why do they do it? They do or could make millions of dollars doing what most men would pay for the privilege of doing.

It troubles me when I read of a young college athlete being in a nightclub or bar at 3:00 a.m. or being involved in an automobile wreck at a similar hour. College students need to be in their room before midnight doing some serious study for which somebody is paying big money to make possible. Those in our colleges and universities should be there for learning something useful for the time when they cannot excel as an athlete.

The professional who does those same kind of stupid things is running the risk of losing millions of dollars which his immediate and extended family could certainly use to good advantage.

What leads to their downfall? The enemies of college and professional athletes include such thing as these.

1. Believing you are somebody special. Thinking you can get by. However, you are not and cannot.

2. Thinking you are bigger and stronger than any temptation you face.

3. Reading too many stories about your exploits and believing you are better than the stories.

4. Forgetting your humble beginnings before you developed a swaggering attitude of superiority.

5. Thinking you are invincible. Your records will someday all be broken.

6. Money in abundance that can easily be spent wisely or foolishly until it is all gone. You can spend all you have and be broke and in poverty.

7. Seeking to be an individual star and forgetting you are the member of a team.

8. Pursuing pleasure with no real understanding of what pleasure and satisfaction are all about. It is like chasing a vapor-filled dream. There is no substance in it.

9. Believing that sex and more sex will bring satisfaction and fulfillment. Young stars and faded old men still fall prey to the allurement of fantasy sex.

10. Following false religions and lifestyles always lead to destruction. They always have.

I encourage young men and women to read every day one chapter in the Old Testament book of Proverbs, three chapters in the book of Psalms, and daily from the New Testament, beginning with the Gospel According to John.

One word of advice to every athlete comes from Jesus, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). This verse relates to all every athlete is seeking in life.

Bill Ellis, Assist News Service

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