Monday, April 5, 2010

Lying to children about athletes has a cool slide show that compares children's book accounts of famous ballplayers to their adult biographies, and illustrates the lies that we tell children.

An example:
The children's Pete Rose: "He played with a kind of energy and enthusiasm that made his statistics seem pale. … "Running is the most natural thing in the world for me," explained Rose. "I guess I was born with all this nervous energy." —Pete Rose, by Bob Rubin, Pages 16-17

The Adults' Pete Rose:

"You wonder where he got all the energy," says Jim O'Toole, Rose's teammate on the Reds until 1966. "Well, it wasn't pure energy all the time. It was (amphetamines), which is about the only thing guys took back then." … When Rose broke into major-league baseball, the use of amphetamines, or "greenies" as players called them, was an aboveboard practice. … Some clubhouses had a big jar for anyone to simply reach into and take what he wanted. … There is evidence Rose continued his amphetamine use right through the end of his playing career." —Hustle: The Myth, Life, and Lies of Pete Rose, by Michael Sokolove, Pages 78-80

American icon Joe DiMaggio:

The Children's Joe DiMaggio: "Like many ballplayers, Joe enlisted to fight for his country in 1942." —Joe DiMaggio: Young Sports Hero, by Herb Dunn, Page 151

The Adults' Joe DiMaggio: "He hadn't signed up for the armed forces [during the 1942 season], and the public patience was running out. … There were two All-Star contests that year, and DiMaggio was booed at both. … [His wife] Dorothy wanted him in the Army—she'd made that clear enough; otherwise it would be divorce. … [W]hen he concluded that he'd have to enlist … he started to cry." —Joe DiMaggio: The Hero's Life, by Richard Ben Cramer, Pages 202-203, 206

This kind of harmless mythologizing often leads either to fully grown adults who mistakenly think athletes are role models for children, or to children who learn the truth and become cynical and believe that everyone is a fraud and a liar.

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