In short, my advice is to know the difference.
Lance Armstrong is a celebrity, has been for a long time, and most of the thinking public figured out long ago that he was lying. And then they quit caring. Lance Armstrong is a celebrity. Sport was his vehicle to fame.
The same might be said for young Mr. Te'o, Notre Dame's celebrated (and many would argue, deliberately generated) Heisman Trophy runner-up.
And the same might be said about countless baseball heroes who stave off accusations of steroid use only to eventually admit it and then sometimes, cloak their big bicepped-selves in righteous indignation. File under Too Big for your Britches.
They are celebrities. They are not sports heroes. Sports heroes don't do that s#_+.
I'm sorry to say that I can't point to a sports hero with a name you'd recognize. But I know who my heroes are.
They're the coaches and players who do what they do (work hard, have fun) for the love of the game and respect the rules - why? because doing so adds a wonderful, thrilling, joyful dimension to life. They do what they do in spite of the coaches and players who are in it for some sort of screwed-up version of sports-self-importance. They do it in spite of the athletes and teammates whom we celebrate too often for their bullying flair. (Too bad we weren't quite ready to listen to Floyd Landis in 2010.)
Some of my sports heroes aren't players or coaches. They're the fans who attend the game, meet, or match, regardless of the weather; who cheer and smile, regardless of the score. Who smile even when they complain about the referee's stupid call. Because they get it. Sports - yes, even competitive sports - are supposed to be fun. They should add joy and spirit to life. They should be honest.
Isn't that what good sportsmanship is all about? That's a connotation, not a denotation, I suppose. Whatever you call it, that's my understanding. If yours is different, I welcome your comments.
|Future sports heroes? I hope so.|