Quite some time ago, Charles Barkley said that he was not a role model. I do not remember the entire quote and just simply do not want to take the time to search for it right now but I think most of you will remember what I am talking about. When he said that in a commercial, I believe he meant that athletes should not be role models for children but that their parents should be. I could not agree with this more, it is the way things should be. However, the truth of the matter is that athletes do end up being role models for children and teenagers, and have for a very long time. They also end up being heroes to adults and a great source of entertainment and inspiration for us all.
One true hero would have to be Ted Williams. He is the only major league player to ever hit .400 or better for a full season. recently I watched an HBO special about Ted Williams and that really inspired this blog entry. When he began his career, one thing that was pointed out was that he would salute the fans with a tip of his cap when he took the field. It certainly is rare these days for our athlete heroes to show us any true respect whatsoever. This is also a man who served our country in two wars. He first served in World War II and then later served in the Korean War. He took years away from his playing career to serve our country in a time of need. To be fair, Joe DiMaggio did the same during World War II as well. The only athlete that comes to mind in recent history to have done the same is Pat Tillman who not only cut his NFL career short, but also ended up having his life cut chort as well serving our country in Afghanistan. These men were heroes and should be remembered as such. All of these athletes showed a level of courage, dedication, and patriotism that many in this country would not. These are all qualities that we should all strive for and these men have shown that they were willing to lead the way here.
There are other athletes that can serve as a source of great inspiration for us all. Teddy Bruschi is a great example. He had a stroke! Most people would have a very difficult time recovering from this type of medical emergency. Not only did he recover, but as we all know, he returned to the NFL and has been a very good, high impact player ever since then. There are many people who would have just given up on life at that point, but not him. Lance Armstrong is another good example. Now, he has done things that are not the most admirable, like leaving his wife after recovering from cancer, but he can still serve as a great role model. He overcame cancer to win the Tour de France seven times. Is there anyone who could not find some inspiration from this. And what Red Sox fan could not feel a lot of admiration for John Lester who also overcame cancer to not only return to the major leaguesm, but be one of the top pitchers in today's game. I also find Magic Johnnson's story inspiring. When it was learned that he was HIV positive, it was thought he would be dead within a matter of a few years, yet here we are many years later and he is still going strong. All of these athletes have overcome sever medical problems to continue to flourish when many people would just throw in the towel. But instead of throwing in the towel, they kept fighting and have pulled through their illnesses to continue with their lives. This is the kind of determination we need all people in our country to have today.
A list of heroes obviously could not be complete without mention of Jackie Robinson. In an era when African Americans were had not been allowed to play major league baseball, he was the first to break the color barrier and make it into the majors. Wherever he played, he faced hatred, and death threats from people who could not, or would not, accept a black player being in the major leagues. He even faced hatred from his own team mates when he played. He had a tremendous amount of courage, and showed it every day when he took the field and played in a sport where a very large number of people did not want him anywhere around. He has got to be considered a hero and worthy role model. How much better off would we be in this country if we could all show this amount of courage in our lives?
Today, there is so much negativity that is released about sports stars that it can be difficult to find those that really are worthy of being called heroes and being role models for our children. Maybe, it is because athletes today are not as worthy as they once were or maye because their scandals were not reported in the past. In either case our heroes are still there and we still need them.
This has been my first attempt at writing a blog. I hope that some of you will take the time to let me know what you think of what I have written and posted today.