Are We Seeing the Death of the ‘Sports Hero?’
Sports heroes have meant a great deal to countries around the globe since the beginning of time. All the way back to Ancient Greece with the very first Olympic Games, sports figures have found their way into history books and have gone on and on through time without ever being forgotten.
One of the largest issues we face as a culture and a society nowadays, however, is the fact that many of our present-day sports figures are turning far away from the positives they have shown to our communities and our children, and ended up being known only for the most negative and somewhat hideous things human beings can possibly imagine. Now, yes, murders are abundant throughout our world (unfortunately), but when you are in the position of sports star (same as with Hollywood legend, or anyone who lives their life in the public eye), when you choose to do and/or get caught up in something unbelievably bad, the effects that it has on everyone – fans and people who look up to you – are crushing.
We know about Lance Armstrong. We know that this hero when it came to racing has now been unveiled in the worst possible light. Instead of being remembered for the glorious Lance Armstrong Foundation, and all the incredible work this man did in the charitable field for people who truly needed help, he will now (especially with the tabloid journalism that makes up the planet Earth), always be remembered for his mistakes.
Now we are dealing with Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius. It is a fact that this man was beloved. This is a man who became a true hero – a runner with no legs. He showed the world what it was like to overcome a handicap and to be able to achieve greatness even though he was beginning under the hardest circumstances imaginable.
No…this is not an article screaming ‘Guilty’ or ‘Innocent.’ This is a true look at how one hero can go from the top of the heap, with fans absolutely wanting to cheer him and have the strength and the courage he showed, to seeing a whole new side of their hero that will quite literally, no matter what the verdict is, destroy his heroic status in everyone’s eyes. So for everything he accomplished, one moment in time has now erased what he so strongly fought to achieve.
For those who know nothing of the athlete and just rely on the news to tell them about his character, Pistorius had his legs amputated below the knee when he was only eleven-months old. This was a hideous moment for any child; one that certainly every parent would be crushed to have happen to their own. But this man had the ability to go from that hideous circumstance to heading to the 2011 World Championships in Athletics, not to mention becoming the first amputee to ever win an able-bodied world track medal. It was at the 2012 Summer Olympics that Pistorius even became the first double leg amputee to participate in the challenging games, and was a crowning achievement and a true icon that children and adults everywhere could look up to. Where does his name come up now?
Tragically, on February 14th 2013, Pistorius was charged with murder; the killing of his girlfriend. Reeva Steenkamp, who was fatally shot at his home. You can see, this is certainly not the headline that this once heroic man wishes to be remembered for…and the loss of life was beyond painful.
Gold medals, silver medals, world records being set – all of this makes for an incredible life and an incredible resume, considering the loss of his legs. But there are so many tragedies that stem from this murder that it seems impossible to name them all.
And…he is not the only one. Lance Armstrong has fallen, but there are others who met headfirst with jail, or their own deaths. There are many who state that it is because of fame, fortune and the pressure of being a person in the limelight that has brought out these negative and/or animalistic sides to these sports’ personalities. But there are still others who state that, unlike ‘regular’ individuals who are not in the limelight, these heroes were given the easy way out because of their money, fame and fortune.
The biggest debate of this scenario will most likely always be OJ Simpson, who some say got away with murder only to then prove years later that he had the character of a person who deserved nothing but prison.
There are also stories of redemption – sports heroes who have come back begging for forgiveness and a second chance; however, in the end, all of their records and medals and whatnot will never be the center of attention when speaking about their careers. It will always be the ‘fall’ that will rule the minds of fans and enemies alike.
What can be learned from this latest news headline is the same that could be learned from all the rest of the sports heroes who have fallen before. When it comes to looking up to someone, a hero is one who stands for something. A hero is one that has amazing character and is a truly good soul that wants nothing more than to help others. And this hero does not need a famous jersey or a world record.
People make mistakes. Horrific things happen to the mind and body. These are facts. But in the end, we have to become our own hero and make sure that our children see the goodness in us – not some stranger they see on TV.
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Until Next Time, Everybody,