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More Proof that It’s Better to be a Writer than an Athlete

April 4, 2012
The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin He was the ...

If I saw this guy on the street, I wouldn't recognize him any more than he'd recognize me. And that's great! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Being a writer is better than being an athlete because when writers make mistakes, most people can’t tell.  If I forget to put a comma somewhere, fans won’t boo me and tell me I suck.  When an athlete screws up, fans scream and send death threats to his family.  I like being able to make mistakes without people threatening my family. 

Being a professional athlete can be glamorous, but athletic ability fades quickly, and by the time you’re 30, you’d better be planning another career.  As a writer, I’m way past 30, and I’m just getting warmed up. 

Being an athlete is better than being a writer in one respect: hot chicks with cleavage like athletes way better than writers.  The only reason a hot chick with cleavage will go out with a writer is if the writer has a lot of money, but a hot chick with cleavage will go out with the lowliest of bench warmers because that bench warmer might someday become a star.  Plus, the bench warmer athlete might be a handsome dude.

But if you take hot chicks with cleavage out of the equation (stay with me here), being a writer is far better than being an athlete. 

The reason I bring this up is because of Ryan Leaf.  The former San Diego Chargers quarterback got arrested for burglary, and a bunch of stuff from his past is coming up, and I actually feel bad for the guy.  I kind of resented him in 1998(?) when he was a first round draft pick (some experts thought at the time that he should be picked before Peyton Manning) and got 14 million dollars, which is probably 5 times more money than I’ll make in my entire life.  And right now, I’m really glad I’m not him. 

When Ryan Leaf melted down, he melted down quickly and publicly.  He screamed at reporters, his play on the field got worse, and soon he became known as the biggest bust in NFL history.  Now he’s been busted for burglary, and the world knows about other problems he has.  This is what happens when athletes melt down.  Everybody notices, and a bunch of critics pile on. 

When writers melt down, it takes a lot for people to notice.  Maybe a James Frey will look silly getting lectured by Oprah, or Aaron Sorkin will get caught doing something stupid/illegal, but people forget, and writers will find work again. 

This is what’s great about being a writer.  I have no idea what James Frey or Aaron Sorkin look like.  When I saw a recent picture of an aging Ryan Leaf, I thought, “That’s Ryan Leaf!”   James Frey can probably walk into a store without getting recognized.  When he introduces himself to strangers, they probably don’t say, “You’re not…THAT James Frey, are you?” 

I’m sure Ryan Leaf got death threats for struggling as a professional quarterback.  I’m also sure James Frey never got death threats for lying (embellishing) in his memoir A Million Little Pieces.  Maybe a few people ripped out a page and sent it to the publisher for a refund, but I doubt it.  A good book is a good book, even if it is a lie.

And if a writer screws up or melts down, the world doesn’t know it, unless he’s silly enough to go on Oprah.

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