As the dust settles on the court hearing in Pretoria, there is an overriding sense among the public that Oscar Pistorius got a relatively light punishment for his murder of Reeve Steenkamp. Throughout this whole ordeal, the world watched in utter disbelief as one of the 2012 Olympic stars started losing his sponsors and reputation in the blink of an eye. The tragic incident on Valentine’s day in 2013 has changed the life of Oscar forever, and his image in the media has been tainted beyond repair. This has caused him to go through rehabilitation and immense mental pain because it is something that he will have to live with forever. As he spends the first few days of his sentence in jail, do we place too much importance on sporting figures across the world?

Athletes are humans

They perform at the highest level on the biggest stages around the globe and thrill us all with extraordinary talent.

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For all of the accolades we give them, we must realise that these people are like us. They make mistakes, they cannot be at a superhuman level in everything they do. The pressure put on them by the public and media makes it even more amazing that they achieve the things they do in their respective sport. What Oscar did in the 2012 Olympics was unprecedented and that took his persona and aura to a completely new level. With this imposed reputation on him, his every step was noted and the spotlight was firmly on him. This is completely unfair, not only him, but any other sports person for that matter. Obviously, this mistake is extremely brutal and Pistorius should rightly receive a huge punishment, but the overall image of athletes must be understated.

Media scrutiny provides unnecessary pressure

In this day and age, social media coverage dominates every sporting story, be it on an athlete or an actual sporting event.

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The media scrutiny that athletes are under is huge and they have to think twice before taking any step in their career. What will this do to my image? What will the public think of me? These are the questions that circulate amongst athletes’ minds all the time. Their every false step is ridiculed and analysed to the extreme among journalists and pundits. In the olden days, sporting stars had a lot more freedom with what they did in their free time, whether that was having a beer or enjoying nightlife. Of course they made mistakes and had flaws, but because they were allowed to make mistakes, they were able to learn from them. These days, athletes simply sit in hotel rooms and train for the majority of the time. Surely this is not the right way to go.

Youngsters have to learn the hard way

With the pressure on sportsmen and women so incredibly high, it is extremely important for upcoming athletes to build that mental strength and determination. This will allow them to flourish in their careers when their time comes.

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However, that mental strength must come from within and coming through adversity early on will only improve them later on. So rather than protecting them and spoon feeding them, coaches and mentors must give them a level of freedom. When speaking to the Oxford Union, Rio Ferdinand stated that his journeys to training would take him 2 and half hours, only if he got the train on time. That discipline helped him to become one of the best defenders in the world. So let youngsters build their discipline, they will reap the rewards in the future.

Therefore, as Oscar Pistorius rightfully gets a sizeable punishment, fans across the world must realise that athletes are also human beings. #Athletics