Thursday, February 28, 2013 |
Photographers take photos of Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius as he stands in the dock during his bail hearing at the magistrates court in Pretoria, South Africa on Feb. 22. (Themba Hadebe/Associated Press)
Bissinger says we come to see our athletes as larger than life, which is why when their very human failures become public, the sins can seem so much greater, so much more surprising.
"You go through the list -- and it's much bigger than this -- but: Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, an American football player named Jovan Belcher who killed his girlfriend and then committed suicide ... I mean the list goes on and on and on," he said. "I don't think they're meant to be role models we put these guys on a pedestal that ultimately can become very, very dangerous and I think that happened in the case of Oscar Pistorius."
To expect athletes to be model citizens is mistake, Bissinger says, because while "we're all narcissistic to one degree or another, athletes are the biggest narcissists in the world and would do anything to get an extra edge."
Performance enhancing drugs are a huge issue in sports, but it goes beyond steroids. The extra edge could come from the use of gray-area technology, or controversial training methods, or publicity drummed up the media. And, as Bissinger sees it, there's too much fame and too much money on the line to not seek out every advantage as an athlete on the verge.
"The difference between almost making it and making it is a slice of cheese," Bissinger said.