Today Marion Jones was sentenced to six months in prison for obstruction of justice related to her steroid use and her participation in a check cashing scheme. She will also need to serve 800 hours of community service. The judge has required this service be with children and emphasize the need to tell the truth. While it breaks my heart that Jones will be seperated from her two small children for six months, I’m happy that her community service will require her to speak with kids about honesty and integrity. Until now, the message that our children have received from our super-star athletes is win at all costs. Whether it requires lying, cheating or taking performace enhancing drugs, winning is the ultimate goal. At times it’s difficult, as parents, to make our children understand that this philosophy is wrong. That good sportsmanship, team spirit and trying their best will truly make them winners. When they see athletes receiving endorsements worth millions, entree to the world of celebrities and the adoration of fans, it’s hard for mom and dad to explain that these things aren’t the most important part of the game.
I applaud the judge for sending a message that lying will not be tolerated. I hope the next message will be that taking drugs to enhance performance is also unacceptable. Our children need to see that, indeed, there are consequences for their actions. That even the greatest sport celebrities need to abide by a code of conduct. And yes, honesty and integrity are important traits, even when it might mean losing everything. We need to have athletes and celebrities that are children can look up to for the right reasons and who can teach them that winning through the use of performance enhancing drugs is a hollow victory.