Athletes are often viewed as the elite of this world. They have the best cars, date the most beautiful people, and make millions of dollars doing something that most five year olds can do. Granted, they do it better and that's why they make the big bucks. Being elite means that you're going to be in the public's eye much more often then anyone else. There are many television and radio channels that are sports 24/7. Not a bad thing at all in most of our opinions. What's disturbing is that the bad is always told extensively, while the good is swept under the rug.
Rarely do we hear of an athletes charitable work or community support that they give. When we do, it's usually because somebody tried to rip off the athlete involved. But when an athlete is caught with drugs, it gets coverage and is talked about on every multi-sport network. Obviously, the popularity of the athlete is a major factor of the coverage the story gets. Many people take drugs every day and do stupid things while on them. This doesn't dismiss athletes, but do we really need to hear about it as much as we do? Maybe just throw in a quick word that, "So and so was caught with drug parephenelia (spell check) in his car. Authorities are looking into the matter." And then move on. There is no need to draw it out and try to spin a new angle with it.
Much has been said and written about the Michael Vick incedent. Even now we hear that he's going to play football in prison. That's all fine and dandy but the media never leaves it at that. It usually goes something like this, "Michael Vick has been seen playing football in the prison that he's in. The reason for him being in prison is..." and we're swamped with a five minute piece about what he did. What he did was a terrible thing, but do we need to keep rehashing it and trying to make it into big news again? Do the young people of America need to keep seeing him tossed under the bus? He made a mistake, a big one albeit, but we need to stop talking about it.
Young kids often look to athletes as role models. Why not? They're arguably the most famous people on the planet and what kid doesn't want to be famous. I myself dreamed of being a professional athlete, and looked up to them, as I'm sure most kids do at some point. Do they need to see their idols being turned into monsters that do nothing but create havoc? What the media, and us, need to do, is get a brief overview of the situation and move on. Some things may need to be made more than brief such as the Vick incident. In those cases, run ONE story on it. Perhaps advertise when you're going to run it, and then after you do the story, drop it. There is no need for kids to see their idols being dragged behind the chariot.
The way I see it is this, we as a people, need to be informed of the situation. However, there is no need to continue to be exposed to it whenever the chance presents itself. Give the athlete a chance to overcome their mistakes and come to grips with what has happened. Let the young people continue to have a good image of someone that makes a mistake. They can learn that, even though you mess up, there is always a way to recover and make up for what you did.