So I’ve been thinking about my post of yesterday. It revovles around a conversation my best friend and I have been having for over 20 years now. (and we’ve come no closer to solving it – so I am sharing it).
When we were kids, and I admit I grew up in the media reduced 60’s and 70’s so the glare and spotlight were not shined on the private lives (and off field activies) of athletes. We as kids imortalized the athletes we watched. Bart Starr, Walter Payton were names that to me represented both great people (which they both are) as well as great athletes (which they both were).
Charles Barkley once said he was not a role model, but Walter Payton, Bart Starr and many others were role models. Men who worked hard and played a game they loved for fans they loved.
They played for one team. They played for the fans of one city.
But now, athetes are less admired then they were. Part of it is glare of the spotlight (ESPN – 24 hours of sports) generated by a massive influx of media sources.
But I think part of it is that athlete’s have forgotten how lucky they are. I don’t care how great anyone is, any athlete is one knee injury away from being average. We all are – there are things that can happen that will in fact make all of us average.
Ultimately I miss the days when I could idolize an athlete without performing a complete background check. And there are many athletes today who would pass that test. The thing is, we never hear about that. We never hear about the giving, only the taking that is done. Where once our athletes were idolized, now they are more stylized.
As my best friend and I have discussed, when did we stop. The why we stopped is pretty clear – you see it in front of you ever day. It’s the what that bothers me. We once had heros.
I still love sports. The beauty of sports is watching the mechanics of someone, knowing that physically they are doing something you can’t do. The thing that is missing for me is the hero, the person that you could model your life after. To paraphrase the song from the 80’s, "we need a hero."
While I realize that my personal reaction to the change in sports is insignificant as is my person attempt to boycott all professional sporting events, I need someone to root for.
When I was little I had dozens of players to choose from. To me now it feels like there are so few.