Are Consequences Consequential?

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I found myself feeling sorry for Charlie Sheen this week. He’s got to be a confused man. On the one hand, he’s paid millions of dollars and receives untold accolades for playing a drunken, narcissistic letch whose only thought is for himself, whose every word is intended to insult someone so as to make himself feel better. And then they talk about sending him to rehab or even jail for acting the same way off the set. As soon as you can explain that to me, explain it to him.

Then there’s Ben Roethlisberger. This time last year he was accused (“accused”, mind you, as the charges were never formally filed and no legal action was brought against him) of making unwanted sexual advances after or during a night of hard partying with much alcohol. Ben served his suspension, has outwardly professed to be a changed man, has had no further accusations brought against him as he’s played a stellar season. Then, the league commissioner brought up the bad behavior this week—resurrecting the whole story for no apparent reason and inspiring more calls for Big Ben’s expulsion from the league—the same week that a prominent magazine declared Joe Namath the “Coolest Athlete Ever”. Have you seen Joe lately? Not only has his body gotten older (as would be expected), even when he’s sober (or, maybe, he’s never sober) he talks like a drunk. Big Ben Roethlisberger’s got to be wondering why Joe’s a hero for behavior that only got him one Super Bowl win when Ben’s knocking on the door of his THIRD win.

And what shall I say of Madonna? Was her early succession of songs about the joys and pitfalls of promiscuity an act which she later grew into in her “real” life or did her real life come first and she sang about it later? Either way, it’s led to a career of multi-millions of dollars and a string of poorly received movies for which she was handsomely paid. Not to mention a stable full of rock stars, movie stars and sports stars who seem to be more than anxious to hop in bed with her. Even as she passes fifty—and doesn’t look too good for the wear—she probably only sleeps alone when she wants to, there being no shortage of men in this world who’d like a sugar mama, if only for a little while.

What about Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Macaulay Culkin and all the other stars who look—to those of us on the outside—to be throwing their well-heeled lives away? I think my children are the smartest and best kids I know, but I’m kind of glad that they have shown no musical or acting talents. I would hate for them to have to decide, at 18 or 19 years old, what to say when someone throws drugs alcohol and women at them.

A friend and I were discussing recently the travails of two of the most prominent of recent Longhorns: Vince Young and Ricky Williams. The single mother who’s driving her 8 year old son to practice every day of the week is probably not sitting there on the sidelines thinking, “I just hope Little Junior [not his real name] can parlay his abilities into a string of meaningless relationships, illegitimate children and a segment on ESPN about another talented young athlete who is proving to be a head case and a liability to his team!”

They don’t all turn out this way, of course. The moms and dads who are driving their kids to sports practice, band practice and even “American Idol” tryouts aren’t necessarily hoping their child becomes a superstar. They just want a scholarship to help with the enormous cost of college. They want their kid to have some fun and be appreciated for her talents. If they have dreams of their child going on to greatness, they’re praying that the young’un will follow in the footsteps of Nolan Ryan, Roger Staubach, Craig Biggio or Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.

I think I’ll take a moment to pray for Charlie and Ben and, while I’m there, thank God that the highest honor my boys have achieved so far is Senior Patrol Leader in Boy Scouts.