It is estimated that TMZ, a self-described celebrity gossip website, receives over 500,000 unique visitors on their site every day. The masses seem to have an insatiable desire to learn about who their favorite celebrities are dating and what kind of trouble they’re getting in to.
Harvey Levin, the mastermind behind TMZ, told the New York Times in 2009 that even athletes are not safe from their gossip. “I don’t see the difference between a sports star and a celebrity,” Levin said.
Couple Levin’s gossip reporting with websites like Deadspin that have an affinity for obscure stories from off the field and it seems we care more than ever what popular athletes do when they’re not competing.
There is a notion that with fame there must come a sense of responsibility. As if a contract worth millions of dollars is going to make a young, 21-year old end his life of partying and take up a pious lifestyle to make himself a good role model for kids.
When an athlete makes a mistake like getting arrested for a DUI or getting caught as an adulterer, there is always a public outcry from parents. “How am I supposed to explain these actions to my children?” It’s not that hard to figure out, just explain it to your children.
Mistakes by public figures make for excellent teaching opportunities for parents. Athletes like Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant and Michael Phelps that all made mistakes on public stages offered great chances for parents to show the consequences of poor decisions.
I am not one of the half-million that tunes in to TMZ for gossip about athletes because I care very little about how they act outside of the field. Breaking the law is one thing, finding out that Lebron James orders his steaks well done and already cut into pieces is another.
As a devoted sports fan, I only care about athlete gossip if it has any effect on how they’ll play on the field. If it doesn’t, I really don’t care and I think TMZ will find that most other sports fans don’t either.