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Be Careful Who You Choose as Your Hero

Updated on February 21, 2010

It's None of Our Business!

The whole Tiger Woods debacle has really made me stop and take a hard look at sports figures and celebrities in general, and how we, the public look at them. What is it about people that makes us think that someone should be a "hero" or role model, just because they can hit a golf ball further, swim faster, jump higher, run faster, or hit harder? Between the Michael Phelps marijuana incident, the slew of political scandals lately, and the issue with Tiger Woods, not to mention the coverage of Michael Jackson's death, Britney Spears and other musician's meltdowns, and any number of other public scandals, it has really begun to make me angry that we, the fans and public, think we are not only privy to the "inside scoop", but also think we are owed an apology by the offending person.

We are looking at the above-mentioned people as heroes, when we really need to be looking at our troops that go to war to defend our country and liberties, the police who protect us, the firefighters who save our lives and homes, and the teachers that go so unnoticed that shape our future through our children. I have a son that is both a math teacher and a coach, and he never has a spare moment in his life. Between getting his lessons ready for the next day, grading papers, teaching classes, then coaching whichever boy's sport is in season at that particular time and going to games (he also drives the bus that gets them there), he has to miss family functions at times, and does good to have any social life at all. I wonder at times if the poor guy is ever going to be able to have a family!

Then there is my brother-in-law, his father, and my father-in-law. These three all served in the military during their lifetimes. My brother-in-law's father especially risked his life daily as a fighter pilot, during WWII. He must have been very good at his job, because he was awarded several medals and was nominated for a purple heart, but refused to take it, saying he didn't deserve it because he "didn't bleed enough". He had gotten shot down in the middle of a mine field and somehow walked out of it without blowing himself up. I can't even imagine that kind of bravery! I used to listen for hours to his stories, and when I would show any type of amazement and tell him how brave he was, he would say "I was just doing my job". He is MY hero! He sure didn't make the kind of money Tiger Woods makes, either.

Which brings me back to my soapbox I was on. Why do we as a whole, look to the "celebrities" in life as role models, and then get angry when they mess up and show us their human side? Then, we get angry when they screw up and think we are owed an apology? Why should they apologize for being flawed humans? The only thing that makes them different from us is their particular ability that made them famous in the first place!

The money they make is what really gets me angry. We could use that money to house the homeless, feed the hungry, help children, and do so much REAL good in life, but no, we give it to these people, every time we buy a jersey or a cap, or any number of items with their name on it, or even buy a ticket to see them. Think of how much more our schools could offer to our children if they received even a portion of this money! I realize these people are taxed, and that the tax money is used, but we could come close to paying off our huge national debt if we put all of the salaries of all these over-paid celebrities together, other than a normal amount it takes a person to get by in life.

Blame the Media or Ourselves?

Should we blame the media, or should we blame ourselves for this type of "news" being such a big deal? Have we become a nation of gossipy voyeurs? It seems we can't get our fill of this type of stuff, even as we complain about it. I have found myself discussing Tiger Woods sex life more lately than the war, politics, and the things in life that are truly much more important in life. I suppose with our real lives and country being in such a mess, we all want to escape "real life" and this type of news is just what the doctor ordered. If we focus on someone else's problems, we don't think about our own problems. Plus, we, as humans, have the strange inclination to build people up, just to knock them down when they mess up. We expect perfection from our heroes, forgetting that they are human and capable of mistakes just like us. And, no-they don't owe us an apology, in my viewpoint. They didn't ask to be idolized or role models, we put them in that role. To expect them to be perfect is too much. We know we aren't, why should they be? The only real thing separating us from them is money and the perception we have of them.

Of course, it is a bit hard to move past something when it is on every news channel, talk show, magazine and wherever you look. People are constantly talking about the latest scandal until the next one comes along, debating the ins and outs of every issue like it was public policy or something that was going to directly effect our lives. If we paid as much attention to the important things in life, maybe this would be a better world. There are certainly much more important things in life. But, as long as this type of "news" sells magazines and attracts viewers, we will continue to be inundated with it. We can change things if we choose to, by not being participants in the sideshow. If they don't have an audience, they will quit talking and writing about it. As a matter of fact, I think I will end this now, because I don't want to add to the media hype any longer.


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    • Laura Thykeson profile image

      Laura Thykeson 7 years ago from Central Texas


      Thank you for such an enlightening and thoughtful comment. You obviously put a lot of thought into it! I agree with many of the points you made. We have the "freedom" to have our opinions because of people like your relatives...Thank them for me, k?

      Laura T.

    • profile image

      Jeff Bach 7 years ago

      With my brother currently serving in Afghanistan, a grandfather who served during WWII, and relatives that served in Vietnam, I find myself thinking quite a bit about the definition of hero these days. I also admire Pat Tillman and his memory. I am also an avid sports fan. So what is a hero, what is a role model, and what is an entertainer?

      #1 – The impact and role of money is the first thing that I think should be acknowledged. We all might consider that anyone who receives money to do a job for which they voluntarily signed up, applied for, or competed for, in my opinion, should not be a "hero". That person receives training, understands the job and its risks, and often has specialized equipment for the job. Cops, firefighters, soldiers, and most definitely people "playing" professional sports games, are impacted by the money, training, and support they receive as part of their jobs. Often this is at taxpayer expense.

      #2 - In my opinion, sports figures are "entertainers" plain and simple. Sport has its roots in Greece. But I think that modern pro sports are derived from Rome during the time when gladiators were used to ENTERTAIN the mass (mostly unemployed) public at the height of Rome's glory days.

      Media aggregates viewers all of whom want entertainment. Over time, media companies figured out a business model, and voila we have our modern sports entertainment economy. Sports and its figures are all entertainment.

      The word "hero" should NEVER be used in any facet of sports, in my opinion.

      Professional sports figures are nothing more than modern day gladiators serving an unchanged function. Entertain the masses and get paid to do it.

      #3 - Cops and firefighters. They are paid, they are trained, they voluntarily go into a job knowing its risks, they receive government pensions, many have union protection, are eligible to retire at an early age relative to the general public, and they COMPETE for those jobs. In light of all this are they heros? I don’t think so. Virtually every act they perform is trained for, supported, and known about in advance. Are they brave? They can be at times. Are they doing their jobs? Yes.

      #4 – Soldiers. Like my brother in Afghanistan, for example. Is he a hero? If he dies in combat is he a hero? Tough question. He voluntarily enlisted. He has received millions of dollars worth of training. He uses highly specialized and optimized equipment. He has a support staff that keeps his equipment maintained. He is allowed to move and operate under defined rules. And more that I don’t know and can’t say. Was Pat Tillman a hero? This is a question that bothers me a lot. I really liked and admired Tillman.

      One is living and one was tragically and wrongly mistakenly killed. But they both enlisted voluntarily, they both are and were paid. Pensions and benefits are in the mix for both. Both are doing and did something they wanted to, not necessarily something they had to.

      I can’t answer if soldiers are heroes. I am conflicted.

      #5 – What is the definition of a hero?

      To me a hero is someone who does something that helps other during a time of crisis or emergency, with no preparation, equipment, or expertise. A hero risks their life in the immediate act of helping someone else, without money, training, or equipment as factors in their act.

      For me, two people serve as great examples of defining hero. I have no connection other than my memory of the event. Arland Williams and Lenny Skutnik. In 1982, a plane crashed into the Potomac River in bad winter weather. AW was one of very few passengers who survived the impact. LS was a pedestrian walking by the scene of the crash. AW stayed in the water and passed lifelines on to other survivors. AW ended up drowning. His act of helping others is the action of a hero, in my opinion. LS jumped into the water and helped a survivor to shore who could not hold a lifeline. LS is a hero. He acted to help others at great risk to himself.

      There are many others in this mold.

      So if a highly trained, very well equipped firefighter, with supporting crew and peers close by, and fallback capabilities, goes into a burning building and comes out with a kid, is that firefighter a hero? Or is he doing the job for which he was trained, using his equipment in the manner intended, earning his very nice salary and future pension, and justifying the tax payer expense that his job incurs?

      I don’t think that firefighter is a hero. He is trained, paid, equipped and doing something in a well described job title. But the parent of the kid might think he is a hero.

      At the end of the day, it seems to me that “hero” is a word with a meaning according to each individual who struggles with the word. There is no absolute definition. We should not try to force our opinion on to other people. We should, however, be free to discuss a definition. We should be free to have our own opinions.

      my .02


    • heart4theword profile image

      heart4theword 8 years ago from hub

      It is important to have good role models out there. Us adults have to watch what kind of example, we are being to the younger generation and to our own kids and grandkids!

    • theirishobserver. profile image

      theirishobserver. 8 years ago from Ireland

      Excellent Hub - I have had a few heros who fell at the first hurdle - still there are some who persist - Rocky ha are you....I hope you are well and that your Irish Blood is looking forward to St Patrick's Day on 17th regards Irish

    • Laura Thykeson profile image

      Laura Thykeson 8 years ago from Central Texas


      I am really interested in hearing more about your put something into words that I have felt for a long time, and haven't really been able to express-at least not as well as you just did. Thank you for your wonderful response, and I really wish you would write more about this subject you just mentioned. Let me know when you do!


      lol, thanks for coming by and commenting! Always a pleasure to hear from you!

    • profile image

      richie222 8 years ago

      Laura--My sentiments to a --TEE__(No pun here--HONEST!!) I couldn't have expressed them better--thanks for "venting" for ALL of us!! Rick

    • rvsource profile image

      rvsource 8 years ago


      You asked, so I'm going to answer what is my opinion.

      I believe that if we would turn our TV's off and QUIT listening to the NEWS entirely we as a society would be much better off. It would then end the gossip and ruining of the celebs lives.

      Look here, is Tiger a bad guy? I don't know, but he's a HELL of a golfer, probably the best! Golfing is what he is paid to do. He did and still does that eloquently. But the media side has to get involved. If you look back through generations, you've witnessed the rise and fall of almost EVERY celebrity in one way or another. You mentioned Michael Jackson. His death did the same thing that Tigers scandal did for us Americans. It as you so eloquently quoted "If we focus on someone else's problems, we don't think about our own problems."

      I believe, and it's my opinion, that there is an agenda that we might not ever find the true reasons for. The media is only part of it. It is a necessary catalyst though. Somewhere at the top of things (let's think about a Pyramid for example) there is the person (or group) in charge of everything we know of today. This person, or group of people control the entire world. They control the president, media and all commodities. They create these "stars" such as Tiger, or Michael Jackson and then they punish them by creating gossip in the media. Us citizens all work everyday, pay our taxes, then come home to eat dinner and sit in front of the TV. The TV is the perfect way for this group to create what it is that they want to create. We simply react, and we react according to what they desire. They are actually that good at it! They've had hundreds of years of practice.

      Your family members are perfect examples. They all sound like EXTREMELY brave individuals. My dad served during World War II in the pacific. He never talked about it though, even up till his death a few years ago. One has to ask themselves, WHY would anyone want to risk their lives and go to war with the very likelihood of getting killed? You mentioned your brother in law "but refused to take it, saying he didn't deserve it because he "didn't bleed enough"." Now that is a very noble thing to say, and I am sure he meant it. If I ever wanted to be represented by someone that was considered a brave person, he sounds like the guy! But let's think about this for a second. Why does he feel this way? Does he have a family at home? Does he feel that in his families best interest is he better served as taking care of them, as a father and husband? I'm sure that his wife wouldn't want him to BLEED anymore!

      I see what happens in our military as a form of brain washing. I applaud the courage of the soldiers for sure, but at the same time I question the reasons WE are even fighting, to begin with! I won't get into what ALL of my beliefs are, but I wanted to throw that out.

      So in summary and in answer to your question. Everything that happens to us as a direct result of the media publicity is STAGED! The real reasons, well just do your research and it's likely you will find out why! That is what I do now on everything that is raked through the coals of the media!