Sporting Heroes-the Oscar Pistorius shooting
The tradgedy on Valentines day
Sports Heroes: the pressure of success.
The recent sad story of young man known as the Blade Runner, has again highlighted the pressure that sports heroes are under. What happened on that fateful morning in Pretoria on Valentine’s Day will probably never be fully known. As a South African sports fan, I have been shocked and dismayed at the news. Sympathy has been for the beautiful and talented young woman, Reeva Steenkamp, who was shot by her boyfriend. Our hearts go out especially to her family and friends. One can hardly imagine the shock and sorrow that they have been through.
At the same time I have felt for the family of Oscar Pistorius and for the young man himself. The jury is out on what the judicial result will be, but one thing is certain, for him things will never be the same again. One day he was looked up to as a super hero and the next day as a fallen star. It brings to mind the sad stories of other heroes like Hansie Cronje, Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong. Their mistakes seem to pale into insignificance in compared to the events of that tragic Valentines night.
Had this shooting taken place anywhere in the world and the people involved not been so well known, the court case would have been followed with interest but not with the media frenzy that we are seeing. The President’s State of the Nation address, broadcast on TV, was hardly noticed until a few days later. CNN, BBC World, Sky News, Ajr and e-News and who knows who else, all went live to the court in Pretoria for the outcome of the bail hearing on Friday afternoon, interrupting their normal programs.
The trial itself will bring out details of Oscar’s life that he would have hoped would never become public information. His athletic career and sponsorship's are on hold and the public will never look at him in the same way as they did before. He himself will face the reality of that tragic morning on two levels. Firstly he will have to live with what the judge eventually decides. Secondly he will have to deal with the truth as only he knows it, perhaps an even greater challenge.
With Tiger Woods and the mistakes he made, the general public and so also sponsors seem to be ready to move on and accept that, as a human, he simply had weaknesses with which many of them can identify. Lance Armstrong faces the future with uncertainty and trepidation I am certain. It is early days yet for Oscar who, as a young man of 26, has tasted the success and adulation that has come with sporting success. He has also been an icon to many and given hope to others who felt they were without hope, in the courage he has shown in overcoming his disability.
In the court of public opinion the evidence is still being weighed up as the facts become known and sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction.
As he now faces the consequences of the events of 14 February, we need to keep a perspective on what might come out of this tragedy. The family of Reeva has started a fund and initiative to work against the abuse of women; something which is a huge problem not only in South Africa, but all over the world. Apparently she had been planning to get involved in that mission before her death. Perhaps in her death she will speak louder than she could have in her life. Who knows?
Meanwhile we ordinary people need to remember that even the sporting heroes are, after all, just ordinary people too. In spite of their particular ability and drive that takes them to the top of their field, they face the same insecurities and temptations that are common to all. In fact the very adulation and riches that they receive bring with them their own problems; sometimes ones we may never have to face.