by: Kyle Porter
I can’t remember the time I stopped looking up to athletes[1. The lone exception, obviously, being Tebow, who is probably the only professional or collegiate competitor that could legitimately do anything off the field that would leave me bummed out on a personal level.] but I’m pretty sure it was between high school and the first party in college.
It was probably at the first party I went to in college.
It is a fruitless endeavor, idolizing people you’ll never meet and yet we all probably do it. It’s hard not to sometimes.
You meet these guys (the players of these games) at various points in your life and you realize that most of them could care less about you, the fan, even though the ones who actually do care about you, the fan, make the whole thing worth it.
And then you’re confused all over again.
I’ve written before that we should root and cheer and be fans because of other fans, not because of anything the players can or will (or can’t or won’t) give us[2. Watching KD shoot bombs tests this notion at an extremely deep level of my soul, on some road between the sublime and the spiritual. I’m still working it out, I think.].
I mean, we’ve all been watching this Penn State thing right?
And yet I can’t help but have certain feelings about certain people. That isn’t a wrong thing, I don’t believe, if it’s even still possible to separate what happens on the field from who happens on the field, or something like that.
Dez was one of those people who, when I was in college, made me feel stupid, dreamy things about my own life. That I could someday be a great writer or be really successful at business or one of the many void-of-pessimism things college sophomores think.
When he was standing with his shadow pointed towards the basketball arena as 45,000 silent orange-clad patrons stared at him in the silent moments before everything exploded into a billion decibles and your feet went numb.
Well, those were moments.
And so the last few weeks, really the last few years, have made me a little bit sad. Not because I expected or needed anything from him, but because I wanted him to step into the dreams he created for other people.
It’s an overstated opinion that these people (athletes) are given everything and that it shouldn’t be that difficult to not screw it all up (and it shouldn’t). But as it goes with some people, there’s a lot going on with Dez. A lot that he grew up with and a lot of perception that you didn’t grow up with and you didn’t deal with.
I’m not making excuses for him – don’t put yourself in a position where “he hit his mom in the face” is even a fathomable accusation – only saying that I’m a bit melancholy about the whole thing.
He was, and probably is, one of my five favorite athletes to ever come through Stillwater. A prodigious talent of proportions that you had to see in person to understand[3. And even then you didn’t fully fathom them.].
He had, and still could have, everything he possibly wants.
I just hope it doesn’t remain a thing of my dreams.