Precarious Hero Pedestals

Reader Contribution by Shawn Hosford
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Finding a place of peace and football-free quiet can be a challenge for a Seattle resident and native the day before the 2015 Super Bowl, but I knew just the spot—nestled away in the Cascade Mountains.

This weekend, in my quiet mountain retreat, I tried to dig for a deeper understanding of a seemingly foreign (to me) social norm—professional football. In homage to the Seahawks, the Super Bowl, and the many fans of both, I decided to watch a football movie, The Underdogs. My mother, who ironically did not contribute to my understanding of sports or competition while I was growing up, recently lent it to me. The story worked from a fairly typical David and Goliath theme, which I often gravitate toward.

As I watched the movie, I grew to like and appreciate some of the characters and dislike others. There were heroes, villains, underdogs, and people who seemed devoid of moral character. The range of character experience, responses, and development displayed in the film helped me understand how sports can build character, commitment, camaraderie, discipline, and team orientation—all good contributions to building sustainable societies.

After the movie ended, I got to thinking about the conversations I had overheard about football and the beloved Seahawks over the last several months. Much of it has been about who each player represents in their everyday lives, or at least who our community sees that player to be. The top of those pedestals must be a precarious position for each of those men.

It is curious to me that, as a society, we idealize people who garner media attention because of their God-given talents and gifts to become our most monetarily valued community members. Sitting around the table after dinner the other night, my uncle, who is a big sports fan, said something like, “If you knew Russell Wilson’s and Richard Sherman’s stories, you would think highly of them.” I didn’t and still don’t know the details of their good works, but I can tell you I am most impressed by peoples’ acts of service, generosity, and caring for their communities.

When I watch a movie, read a story, or see someone act with generosity toward another human, I feel better for it. I trust that the Seahawks and Patriots are fielded by some men of good character. Whichever team wins, I hope that all the men involved in the game will be mindful of all the lives that are influenced by their role-modeling. There are many “Davids” in our country looking for their heroes to stand tall upon those pedestals and help pave paths of good.

Who do you put on a pedestal and why? Do our heroes and sports figures “owe” their communities anything? Why do professional sports garner so much attention?

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