The hardest fall is the one from grace.
It is usually the suddenness that catches us off guard. Years of good deeds can be erased by a single transgression or a series of them.
Whether it's the political arena or the sporting spectrum, whether it's on a national level or local, these stories are becoming alarmingly more prevalent.
Our first thought — and rightly so — is to empathize with the victim and wonder if there was something we missed, some telltale warning sign that should have raised a cautionary flag about the person we thought we knew.
While we diligently castigate the alleged offender, seldom do we delve deeper and recognize that the societal issue is far beyond the scope of one individual or even a group of people.
We cannot condone immoral and improper behavior at any level, but we can — and should — attempt to learn why the pattern exists in so many climates.
It is not often that we hear of improprieties from, for example, an unemployed laborer. Rather, it is those who are in the limelight, either through their own doing, such as elected public servants, or because they are in a profession such as education. Those are the ones whose offensive actions we see chronicled with more frequent regularity.
They are often the same people we consider role models. They are the ones glorified for the path that took them into the public eye, some as politicians, some as coaches.
We tend to forget that at one time, all of them were once like us, someone's child. As they show a penchant for their career path, perhaps making decisions to impact an economy or maybe by molding teenagers into elite athletes, there is a pedestal waiting for their presence.
We — and I include virtually all of us in the media — make bold assertions as their success grows. We refer to them as icons, as gurus, as legends and as anything and everything but what they actually are: ordinary individuals.
As the persona grows, as the attention and adulation increases, good judgment and values can give way to the craving and desire for more. It takes a strong person to follow your childhood upbringing when surrounded by people who think of you as infallible.
Few of us — hopefully none of us — were raised to be bad people and do evil. The path we take is by choice, though influenced by the glamour and fame that some seek and others receive almost reluctantly.
The individuals who fall from glory are unable or unwilling to cope with the expectations associated with the climb to power. Those ultimately found guilty represent only a fraction of the ones who helped enable and create this image of a privileged and empowered person.
We will be subjected to more of these deplorable stories until — or unless — we as a society stop the hero worship and quit elevating some individuals as superior above others.
No living person deserves it.
Fred Kroner is The News-Gazette's prep sports coordinator. He writes a weekly high school-related column. He can be reached at 217-351-5232, by fax at 217-373-7401 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.