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How Athletes Became The Heroes of Modern Society

Updated on January 5, 2018

Heroes of our Past

Before ESPN was founded or when you could find almost every sporting event on TV there were different heroes in our nation. These heroes were the men and women who risked their lives everyday in order to keep the citizens safe. These men and Women consisted of Police Officers, Firefighters, Soldiers and many more. As time went on the idea of heroes shifted. Now athletes have become the modern day heroes in our society. Some don't deserve it, but it doesn't mean all athletes don't.

People Who Shouldn't Be Looked Up To

These next two men were once looked at as heroes in the eyes of sports fans. They both failed as role models but are somehow climbing their way back to that status. No matter what they do they shouldn't be looked at as heroes ever again.

Ray Rice The Old Hero of Baltimore

Ray Rice was a Runningback for the Baltimore Ravens from 2008-2013. Rice was a pro-bowl caliber back who the city of Baltimore loved. Rice was notorious for his big playmaking ability as a dual threat back. It wasn't until 2014 when light began to show on what was happening in his life. On February 15th, 2014, Rice struck his fiancee in an elevator at a casino in New Jersey. For months the Baltimore Ravens stood behind Rice saying it was a mistake, and that Rice is still a good guy. In 2017 Rice is still in the headlines. Schools are inviting him to come and talk to students even after his "mistake". Ray Rice doesn't deserve to be considered a hero but people are giving him a second chance at trying to become one again. TMZ was the first to release the video of Rice hitting his wife, but they posted a video of Rice working out and have also had conversations with him. The media tore Rice down but are now trying to build him back up again. They keep trying to sell the story that he deserves a second chance in the NFL even after they exposed him and his heinous act.

Ray Rice TMZ Promotion

Ray Rice TMZ Interview

Chris Carter "Fall Guy"

Chris Carter was a hero for those who followed the Minnesota Vikings during the 1990's. This is where he spent most of his legendary career. Carter was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2013. What matters is that Chris Carter shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame or looked at as a hero. In 2014 at a Rookie event held by the NFL, Chris Carter told the rookies to get a fall guy. When I say fall guy I mean someone who would go to jail for you if they had to. In what world is it okay for you to tell someone it's okay to get in trouble as long as you have a fall guy. Carter also told the rookies how to get around trouble by using the fall guy. Carter left ESPN to go to rival network Fox Sports 1 to host his own show. After making that comment Carter shouldn't have been able to get a promotion at a new network. They used his accomplishments as an athlete to garner an audience for his show. This man shouldn't be a role model to anyone, to think he was speaking to rookies and telling them this is outrageous. He was trying to teach these impressionable rookies that it's okay to get in trouble as long as you have a fall guy. The media (Fox Sports 1) wanted views so they used the nostalgia of his play in order to get it. They continue to paint Carter as a hero even though nothing he has done has ever been heroic.

Chris Carter Fall Guy

The article posted above has great insight to the world of sports and family life. Athletes have the ability to be great role models, some fail and some succeed at it. I have already mentioned athletes who failed at being great heroes/role models this includes Ray Rice and Chris Carter. Now I want to look at athletes who succeeded at being heroes and role models to people around the world.

Pat Tillman

Pat Tillman should be considered one of the bravest athletes of all time. Tillman didn't get the recognition like others did in the NFL. He wasn't the greatest player on the field but he was one of the bravest. Eight months after the September 11th attacks Tillman turned down a $3.6 million dollar contract to join the Army. Pat was joined by his brother Kevin, who had just signed a deal with the Cleveland Indians. Two years later on April 22nd, 2004, Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire responding to enemy fire. Pat Tillman showed us that in life there are difficult decisions to be made, Pat could've coasted in the NFL making millions without having to fight. He chose to fight for his country and be a real hero, protecting those who had once cheered for him. The media doesn't cover Pat Tillman's story often but a writer from Bleacher Report wrote a tribute to him in 2010. It's a great article and talks much more in depth about why he should be a role model to all.

Ted Williams

Ted Williams was a former left fielder for the Boston Red Sox from 1939-1942 and 1946-1960. Williams was one of the best players in his generation and one of the best to ever play the game. After his third year in the MLB Williams was drafted into WWII. Unlike other MLB players drafted into the war Williams didn't play under the baseball teams for the Navy. Williams instead decided to become a Naval aviator. Williams fought in WWII and spent a year fighting in the Korean War. During his military tenure Williams had taken part in 39 combat missions as a pilot in the Korean War and WWII as well. Williams is still apart of the Red Sox today, he is remembered for all he did and is looked at as hero to many Boston fans.

Roberto Clemente

Roberto Clemente was a right fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1955-1972. Clemente was an All-Star for his entire career and helped bring two World Series to Pittsburgh. Clemente also served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. In every offseason as a pro Clemente would fly back to his native home Puerto Rico and visit other Latin American and Caribbean countries. During these visits he would deliver baseball equipment and food to those in need. One trip took a turn for the worst, Clemente boarded onto an overloaded plane. That plane crashed on December 23rd, 1972 while trying to reach earthquake victims in Managua, Nicaragua. Thankfully the MLB has recognized not only what Clemente did as a player but also as a citizen. The MLB and world has a day in September every year where we celebrate what Clemente had done with his time here on earth. When people hear Roberto Clemente they think of moral excellence, compassion and charitable work. Clemente has an award named after him based off of these qualities.

Roberto Clemente

The video above shows how much Clemente meant to the baseball world and how much he meant to those living in Latin America. Clemente affected those who weren't even Pittsburgh Pirates fans. Clemente was never forced to do charity work, he chose to do it on his own. He wanted to help those who needed help and would do anything he could to make sure he could help them. Clemente got onto an over boarded flight after three other flights with supplies were diverted away from landing. Clemente died doing what loved best, trying to help those in need.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo is considered the best soccer player in the world. Ronaldo played for Manchester United of the Barclays Premier League and now plays for Real Madrid of the La Liga Santander. Ronaldo's early life wasn't great, his father drank quite a bit and that forced his mother to work two jobs as a cooking and cleaning person. Ronaldo accepted a contract from Manchester United in 2001, in 2005 his father died due to alcohol-kidney related problems. Then in 2007 his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. The media does take note of some of what Ronaldo does with his charity work but what they care about is his soccer skills. He donated his bonus salary from the champions league to charity. That bonus was worth 600,000 euros. He also donated $83,000 to a boy who needed brain surgery. Ronaldo is very charitable but some things go unnoticed by the media. Ronaldo donated more than $165,000 to the Portuguese hospital that treated his mother. He also paid for a 9 year olds pioneering cancer treatment. He's also the head spokesman for international campaigns battling childhood hunger and obesity as well as conserving biodiversity. Ronaldo is someone who everyone should look up to not just as a sports player but as a human being.

Tillman, Willams, Clemente, Ronaldo

These four men are figures in the sports world who should be recognized for their work off the field. All are great athletes but have done their best work off the field. Pat Tillman and Ted Williams fought for the country they loved while abandoning the sport they loved as well. Both risked their lives to keep the citizens safe. Tillman lost his and April 24th, 2004, should be a date remembered by everyone. Tillman gave up a life of luxury for a country he knew had it's flaws but loved anyways. Williams survived 39 combat missions as a Naval Aviator in WWII and the Korean War. These men were heroes in and out of the sports world.

Roberto Clemente and Cristiano Ronaldo never got too big to forget where they came from. Clemente remembered his hometown and native home of Puerto Rico and visited every offseason. Clemente risked his life to get supplies to victims of an earthquake in Nicaragua and unfortunately he didn't make it there. The world remembers him as man who would give everything to help a stranger. This why he has his own day every year in September. Although Cristiano Ronaldo hasn't put his life on the line he's still considered a hero. Ronaldo hasn't forgot his humble beginnings in a middle class family. Ronaldo is the best soccer player in the world but what he does off the field matters a lot more. Ronaldo once even sold an award he got to donate the money to a charity. Ronaldo isn't forced to do charity work like other sports teams have to. Ronaldo does it all on his own and is happy to do so.


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