Why are sporting greats revered by the public more than scientific or benevolent greats?
Recently a well known twenty-five year old cricket star who played for Australia died in a freak cricketing accident. The press - indeed the whole country - has been making a big deal of it for over a week. Yet when a respected and internationally known eye-surgeon, who had restored sight to thousands died a few years back, his death got a couple of minutes publicity both when he died and at his funeral.
I'm not familiar with either of these people, but my guess is that the cricketer's name was better-known in Australia than the surgeon's. There's a large element of showmanship in professional sports, and typically not so much in medicine. For better or worse, there are more famous sportsmen and sportswomen than famous doctors. Usefulness to mankind is not the same thing as fame.
I guess they're more in the public eye and therefore more well-known. I think it's also that people identify with sportsmen and women more easily; they are more part of their world. Science and medicine of that sort is more remote.
Having said that, I do agree with you that it's a shame the others are not really treated with as much recognition as they deserve. I also can't bear the fact that footballers who are paid an inordinate amount for behaving badly on the pitch and occasionally playing a very good game, are idolised and copied by many youngsters. There should be a balance somewhere and I suppose it's up to the press and media to get it right.
It reminds me of my gripe about Margaret Thatcher; she was no great politician yet had a state funeral, putting her on a par with Churchill who won the war for us. I digress, sorry!
Great question. It does seem that our priorities are rather muddled sometimes.
If it is the eye-surgeon you see mentioned in ads all the time on the tele he got more than just a couple of minutes here and there but I take your point.
It comes down to what people can understand and what they can connect to. A great many more Australians play cricket as a sport from high school onward than go in for science in whatever field. It should also be noted that not every top sportsman lacks benevolence. Ponting, for example, is a well known now former champion cricketer who supported charities, especially the volunteer firefighters when he was up there with fame. Meanwhile other sportsmen and women have acted against not only their own interests but also against the interests of their country.
One of the reasons why the death of a 25 year old cricket star would get so much publicity is the nature of his death. He was wearing the right gear. His head should have been protected. Yet he died. I feel sorry for the bowler. It was also a great tragedy for him too. Efforts had been made to make the game of cricket safe and now it will be back to the drawing board for those manufacturing the helmets. Hundreds of thousands of young men and women play cricket in Australia as exercise or as a hobby. This death affects them indirectly as it does the millions of people throughout the world who play cricket. No one wants to be the next to die because the helmets need to be redesigned. Sure freak accident but still a worry to parents whose kid or kids love to play cricket.
Sports are highly revered, especially in America and Australia. In such societies, sports are seen as the ultimate expression in masculinity. Man who are active in sports are viewed as true men, real men. Sports are also a further expression of America's and Australia's extroverted character. In American and Australian societies, extroversion is a trait that is highly praised, prized, and oftentimes rewarded.
In America especially, sports stars are deified. Even in high school and college, it is the jock, not the academician, who is glorified and are on top of the pecking order. Sports stars are our gladiators so to speak. Sports stars are viewed as masculinity times infnity. Sadly, intellectual endeavors and gifts are less prized, especially in America and Australian societies. Men and boys with such gifts are often viewed as nerds or worse.
There is a strong element of anti-intellectualism in America and Australian society. These societies prize aggressiveness, action, and being in one's face which is typical extroversion. Intellectualism which requires thought, analysis, and deep introspection are considered to be introverted characteristics and are deemed suspect in an extroverted. Furthermore, such characteristics are viewed as unmasculine.
Excellent points, especially about anti-intellectualism. I don't know if it's due to the internet, but it seems to me that anti-intellectualism is increasingly commonplace. It's a serious concern in a democracy as it affects education and politics.
Amen to your and KU37's comments. It's not only in America & Australia; it's happening in Britain too and I would guess in many other parts of the world. Big mistake because we're going to lose our creative and intellectual capacities.
I would put down anti-intellectualism in both the USA and Australia as a continuing off-shoot of so-called 'reality' television. Documentaries are being replaced too often by pretend documentaries that are just lame 'reality' junk.
The media glamorizes these events and people. Most are already acclimated to this culture from their exposure in school and social circles.
It is easier for most to identify with sports and entertainment than science because the rules are easier to understand, it makes you a social icon and the payday is bigger.
Entertainers are always more popular amid common folks (players, movie stars, pop singers etc). Intellectuals/ personalities contributing to society are not entertainers.
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