Alex Rodriguez fans who were looking forward to taking their kids to see the embattled New York Yankees third baseman in a new kids' movie may never have the chance. The folks behind Henry & Me, a movie about a little boy with cancer and his magical adventure with baseball players, are debating the effect his steroids scandal could have on a flick for kids. There's talk Alex will get the axe.
As a long-time Yankees fan who has never particularly taken to A-Rod, I'm not exactly crying. But as a mother of a little baseball fan, I wonder if they aren't overreacting a tad bit.
A-Rod, of course, is currently in the midst of an appeal of Major League Baseball's 211-game suspension for alleged steroid use. He's damaged goods, and sponsors don't want to be associated with him.
But we're not talking about advertising here. We're talking about a kids' movie. The movie's executive producer, Ray Negron, has said of the threat to cut Alex from the film, "I love Alex Rodriguez, but I love kids more."
The question is, do kids even care?
I don't know that they do.
Sure, they know who Alex Rodriguez is. My daughter used to have an A-Rod jersey, and she could point him out in a lineup. Because we live in New York, most kids I know could probably do the same.
But they know about Alex Rodriguez the New York Yankee. They don't know about Alex Rodriguez the person, Alex Rodriguez, the guy who may or may not have used illegal substances.
That's the way it is with most sports stars. They know how they play. They admire how they play.
But there's a distinguishable difference between idolizing a baseball player and idolizing a person.
In general, kids know very little about players' personal lives, and they don't want to follow in their footsteps as human beings. Little New York Jets fans don't see Antonio Cromartie and think, "I want to have 12 kids, just like that guy." They see him and say, "I want to play cornerback."
Kids don't look at Michael Vick and say, "I want to go fight dogs and go to jail." They see him and say, "I want to lead the Hokies to a national championship. I want to play quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons."
So it is with Alex Rodriguez. There's been a lot of debate in recent weeks over what parents should tell their kids about A-Rod, whether they should take away their jerseys and rip down their posters, lest they follow in their "hero's" footsteps. But for kids, the steroid scandal hasn't changed things; it won't set them on a path to steroid use any more than wearing a Cromartie jersey will make them more fecund.
Quite frankly, parents credit professional athletes, heck, all celebrities with way too much power over their kids' lives. Yes, celebrities screw up, and sometimes our kids find out, and we need to talk about it. But day-to-day, kids are much more focused on the flaws and foibles of the grownups around them. We are their real role models, the people in whose footsteps they will really follow -- wrongly or rightly.
Cutting a guy like Alex Rodriguez out of a kids' movie might be good for the production company in terms of getting it out there, but let's be real -- this isn't about the kids themselves.
They could care less.
Would you let your kids watch this movie if Alex Rodriguez had a role? Do you worry about your kids idolizing athletes?
Image via Rafael Amado Deras/Flickr