This one has been bouncing around in my brain for a couple of weeks. It all started one afternoon while listening to the Melissa Moore Show. The news about Lance Armstrong finally admitting what the rest of the world already suspected that the Great and Mighty Lance had been involved in doping. The on-air conversation was regarding if listeners felt disappointed or let down by Armstrong. The fight during the Super Bowl left me shaking my head and thing seriously. These are just two examples of unacceptable behavior by individuals are society has elevated to hero status. I have reached some conclusions about heroes and role models.
First, Armstrong and other athletes are human. Sooner or later all humans will fail. It is inevitable that athletes or other celebrities will disappoint us eventually. In most cases it will be less dramatic that a fight in the middle of the Super Bowl but it will happen.
Second, being able to throw a 90 mile an hour fast ball or play amazing riffs on the guitar should not be a major criteria for selecting a hero. It is possible to respect someone’s accomplishments or talent without condoning or accepting outrageous behavior. Character does matter. It is time to take a hard look at who should be a hero.
Third, many true heroes are average people. As an educator I have often asked students to write about a hero. I’ve been amazed at how many students choose to write about a parent, grandparent, coach or teacher who made a difference in their lives. One common thread is their hero has overcome obstacles, is person of principle and/or chooses to invest in the lives of others.