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Falling from grace: Athletes in limelight for controversy


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Professional athletes in today’s society are considered role models and heroes. Their ascension to fame and glory are remarkable stories of overcoming ridiculous obstacles. They, like the mythical Icarus, soared to the heavens and were on top of the world. However, some of the greatest athletes in the world have shared Icarus’ fate and fell from the heavens and out of grace.

Double amputee sprinter from South Africa Oscar Pistorius, the former seven-time winner of the Tour de France Lance Armstrong, one of the best golfers in the world Tiger Woods and the once respected and most celebrated coach in college football Joe Paterno are considered by Fox Sports to be some of the greatest athletes who have ever fallen from grace.

In the 2012 summer Olympics, one man shocked the world as he won two gold medals in the 400 meter and 4×400 relays. Pistorius proved to the world that you could achieve great things regardless of disabilities. This man had won the hearts of people from all over the world and had a bright and promising future. Then six months after proving he could compete with the best in the world, Pistorius was charged for the shooting and killing of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp. According to CBS News, Pistorius claims that he shot Steenkamp by accident, thinking there was an intruder that entered his home. Pistorius is currently waiting for his trial to begin as he is being charged with premeditated murder.

Now here is another man who had one of the most inspirational stories of an athlete overcoming cancer and winning the biggest cycling event in the world not only once, but seven times. Armstrong was a man who inspired people all over the world by proving that just because you have cancer does not mean it’s the end of the world. This once respected idol of the cycling world is now considered to be one of the biggest fakes in sports history. Armstrong was doping to help him win the races, and he even admitted it in an interview with Oprah. “In your opinion, was it humanly possible to win the Tour de France seven times in a row without doping?” asked Oprah. “In my opinion, no,” Armstrong replied. Now Armstrong has no titles, has lost his endorsement with Nike and has lost the respect of fans from all across the world.

Once known as the world’s greatest golfer, according to Fox Sports, Woods had his world turned upside down in 2009 when a tabloid story about him stated that he was having an affair with a nightclub manager. Then things got worse for Woods as the media went into a frenzy after he wrecked his car outside his home late in the night. After the wreck the media started poking into Woods’s marriage with Elin Nordegren. Even though he denied ever having an affair ,over a dozen women claimed to have had an affair with the pro golfer. Even after taking time off from golfing to work on his marriage with his wife, they split up. Ever since, Woods’s game has not been up to par with what it was before his affairs went public.

However one of the worst falls from grace, in my opinion, has to be the fall of the former head football coach at Penn State, Joe Paterno. The once respected and idolized coach was fired after coaching 45 years at Penn State due to an investigation surrounding child sex-abuse allegations against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. Shortly after his firing, Paterno passed away due to lung cancer on Jan. 22, 2012. Since then, Paterno’s statue at Penn State has been removed and the halo that once sat above his head in the mural at Penn State was also removed. In Freeh’s report, he claims that Paterno knew about Sandusky and failed to take appropriate actions to stop him. For a man who was the most winning coach in college football and ran one of the best football programs in the country, Paterno’s fall was the greatest of all the athletes mentioned.

All of these athletes were once on top of the world and had it all. But they soared too high and fell from grace. I don’t think we will ever really know why these once giants among men did the things they did. Maybe it was the fame, maybe it was the pressure, but whatever the reason was, I feel that they will never be to return to their former glory.

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Award winning, student run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield..
Falling from grace: Athletes in limelight for controversy