This past Sunday I heard Curt Menefee say on the Fox NFL post game show, “Let’s throw it back to Erin who’s with a couple of hero’s from the 49er’s win today.” This struck a nerve with me, and prompted this week’s post on whether or not athletes are heroes.
I am an athlete and a coach who does not believe other athletes should be called heroes. It strikes a nerve with me when athletes are called heroes after a game, because we lose sight of who the real heroes are. A hero is defined as someone committing great or brave acts, and having fine qualities. I don’t think making the game-winning throw, catch, or kick defines someone as a hero. I have two cousins in the armed services that put their lives on the line to serve and protect our country. Those are the real hero’s. If you want to read about real heroism, pick up the book I just finished: Lone Survivor, the account of four Navy SEALS on a covert mission in Afghanistan. This book illustrates what real heroism is.
Can an athlete be a hero? Yes, but not by on the field actions. There are numerous stories and examples of athletes who give back to communities and do great things to help others out. Warrick Dunn, a former NFL star, is one example. His foundation helps improve the lives of single parents. Warrick does much to improve the lives of others and build strong communities. The Albert Pujols Family Foundation works to improve the lives of those living with Down syndrome and the impoverished of the Dominican Republic. There are countless other examples of athletes who serve their communities and selflessly work to improve the lives of others. That is heroic. That’s when an athlete can be called a hero. Not by making the game winning play.
The problem is that we as a society throw the term hero around too loosely. We need to keep it in its proper context. Sports have such an important role in our society because of the attention they receive. I love sports and how they can bring communities together. When used properly, sports are vehicle to change and improve lives. They teach life lessons you can’t learn anywhere else. However, we must remember to keep the term hero in its proper context. Heroes are people who work every day to improve the lives of others, many times doing so unnoticed. I suggest checking out CNN’s Heroes of 2013 to see great examples of everyday people who are heroes.
Athletes are not heroes by what they do on the field, rather by what they do off of it. We need to make sure we teach our children the traits that define what real heroism is. By calling an athlete a hero after a game, we are sending mixed messages. We should honor those who make great sacrifices to serve, protect, and improve the lives of others on a daily basis without any need for recognition or reward. Those people are the real heroes.
Do you agree? Who are what are some examples of heroes you’d like to share?
Thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!