Thursday, December 4, 2008
Heroes and Stars
With Plaxico Burress of the New York Giants football team in the news my thoughts are on the greatness and failings of our heroes and stars.
We revere the greatness that comes from our sports stars or any celebrity we deem to hold high. We admire their talent, their accomplishment, their beauty or their potential. We appreciate their team or individual success. It inspires the individual in us to be better by practicing more, getting better grades, respecting our bodies, or extending a kindness to someone. When our heroes and stars have public failings it forces us to privately acknowledge our own.
When heroes fall and falter, the tendency is to focus only on the disappointment and not on the whole person. Mickey Mantle’s addiction to alcohol, for instance, while bad, both for him and as an example to young athletes, did not minimize his 536 career home runs.
OJ Simpson seems to be a case all by himself, but he is still included in the category of sports stars gone bad or celebrities who make bad choices. Michael Vick is another, as are Jayson Williams and Mike Tyson. And let’s not forget the conviction of Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska or the choices of President Richard Nixon.
Burress’s choice to carry a gun into a New York City nightclub and then shoot himself with it, however accidentally, still makes him subject to the consequences of carrying a loaded gun in New York City. If convicted that's three and a half years in jail. He basically has thrown away a 35 million dollar career.
Heroes and celebrities come in both genders and attain all degrees of fame and status. Parents, teachers, clergy, and politicians can be heroes and some will inevitably disappoint the admirer or the fan.
Human frailty is universal. Greatness comes when we learn from it.