From left: Adrian Peterson, Danny Ferry, Chris Davis and Roger Goodell all helped make this week a bummer for sports fans.

Image: Tom Gannam, Todd Kirkland, Carlos Osorio, Andrew A. Nelles/Associated Press
By Sam Laird2014-09-13 01:44:56 UTC

For many of us growing up, pro sports stars were heroes. The arenas they performed in were hallowed ground; the games they played were canvases upon which to project our own greatest desires, fears and dreams.

Then we grew up and realized many of those stars aren’t good people. Money — not the misty-eyed “love of the game” — is the primary driver. But still: sports are fun! They’re full of scandal and vice, but they do more good than bad and, damn, there’s just no way to leave these silly games behind.

Then a week like this happens.

Friday afternoon’s shocking indictment of NFL star Adrian Peterson, for allegedly giving his four-year old son a severe “whooping,” was the final blow for fans in an alienating, depressing week of sports news.

The week was dominated by the NFL’s primary current scandal, its incompetent — and very possibly dishonest — investigation and punishment of Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice for domestic abuse. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell rightfully became a target of intense scrutiny, as did the NFL’s problem of domestic violence by players — of which Rice is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

But the NFL wasn’t alone this week. Not by a long shot.

Audio emerged of Danny Ferry, general manager of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, making racist comments about a player of African descent in a meeting with colleagues; Ferry announced he would take a leave of absence Friday. Olympic hero Oscar Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide for shooting his girlfriend dead on Valentine’s Day 2013. Chris Davis was suspended by Major League Baseball for using amphetamines.

The list goes on, but we’ll stop there.

There was at least one happy story — but taken as a whole, the past few days added up to quite a pile of bummer sports reports. This post from one Twitter user, showing a screenshot of‘s main news bar on Friday afternoon, summed the week up well.

State of the sports world:

— TRACE (@Trace_Smith) September 12, 2014

Modern media and sports fandom exacerbate the situation. Our culture of outrage readies people to pounce on the slightest misstep from public figures; a 24/7 Twitter-era news cycle heightens the incentive to do so. But this week in sports was a doozy by any measure.

So what’s a sports fan to do? If you’re like me, your sports addiction runs way too deep to give up now. That would be quitting — and if sports taught us one thing as wide-eyed little boys and girls, it’s that winners never quit. (Right? Right?! Go team!)

In the short term, however, I probably won’t watch much — if any — NFL this weekend. Instead, I’ll go outside. Feel the sun on my face. Enjoy the breeze. Lay in the grass. Maybe join a pickup basketball game — the kind of break from ugly reality that being a sports fan used to help provide.

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