Once again, hero worship is taking a beating in the sports world. From the admitted use of performance enhancing drugs by cyclistto recent murder allegations against South African Olympic runner Oscar Pistorious, sports fans have come to learn that one can not always trust the image portrayed on television or by the athletes themselves.
This leads to the question as to whether or not athletes should be looked upon as heroes and role models. Though some may think that this is a complex question it really is not. Athletes have a responsibility to do the right thing just like everyone else. This does not make them any more of a role model or hero then your local school teacher, law enforcement officer, fireman or parents who raise children. The only difference is their lives are lived in the public eye.
What people tend to forget is that athletes are human. They are by no means perfect. Their lives have ups and downs just like everyone else's. When they leave the arena, the problems of life are waiting for them just like they are for us. Athletes may have extraordinary talents, but are ordinary people. This gets lost in the every day idolatry that we place on them and that they take advantage of.
The truth is that there are no gods on earth. All men may not be created equal, but no one is perfect and everyone is mortal. By keeping this in mind it is easier for us to put athletes in their proper place. It is okay to appreciate what they do, but not okay to hold them to a higher standard or make them into gods.
There are good and honorable people in the sports world, Armstrong and Pistorious not withstanding. However, it is probably best that we don’t make anyone out to be more than human.