Sports have held a central role in the social settings of the global community. As a social activity in addition to providing an avenue for recreation, spots have been revered as a source of motivation and a symbol of unity among people of varying origins. Media coverage has played its part in promoting the perception of the sports hero. Live coverage of sports activities has become the order of the day, imposing reverence on the participants of the sporting activities.
Heroes are normally admired for their feats and achievements in certain aspects of life (Teitelbaum, p1). The courage, expertise, dedication and integrity with which they engage in the specific activity accrue the status of heroism on their shoulders. The ancient definition of heroes by the Greeks denotes a descendant of the gods (or goddesses) and possessed supernatural powers and abilities. Delaney and Madigan (p 68) posits that, “the hero shows us what we ought to be, and we make him a hero because we wish to be what he is. He calls us beyond ourselves, towards the ideal”. Thus, the status of a hero is conferred by others and not by self-proclamation.
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Bale (p 66) was of the view that heroes are praised and looked upon as an encouragement owing to their success. Their success acts a beacon of hard work and achievement. More than often, sports are etched in the cultures of society with sports heroes at the foreground. Their achievements calibrate the benchmarks for performance by other aspiring and upcoming athletes. As a result, it is common to hear a coach querying of his young players: ‘why aren’t you like..
.?”. In sports, heroes are categorized as hero winners, skilled performers, social acceptability, group servant, risk-taker, charismatic hero, reluctant hero and lastly, the anti-hero.According to Delaney and Madigan (p 4), the visibility of these sports stars extends beyond the playground. The cinematographer has trained his lens on the sports hero with the hope of reporting the most outstanding or commendable aspect of their life. Consequently, the lives of spots heroes are subject to analysis by the most cutthroat analysts with each aspect receiving immense focus regarding intent and extent.
The celebrity lifestyle exposes these sports heroes to public scrutiny with news-hunters baying to provide their fans with the most interesting and comprehensive coverage of the activities of the sports star.Owing to this reverence, most youth have found themselves pulled towards the tendency to emulate the sports starts in a bid to remain fashionable. The peer influence, fueled by television, has become a force to reckon, with most people etching their lives to match that of their sports heroes. As observed from most sports stars, the propensity to incline towards the ‘bad boy’ image has resulted to glorification of non-conformity and arrogance, at the backdrop damaged image and status (Teitelbaum, p 4). The idolization of sports personalities has been designated as ‘celebrity worship syndrome’, with nearly a third of Americans displaying tendencies of addiction to an unhealthy curiosity in the livelihoods of sports heroes.The corporate world has also promoted and exploited the sports hero owing to the psychological power emanating from their success.
The use of sports heroes as ambassadors for their products has become common practice nowadays with most organizations identifying with the success of certain sports personalities. The success achieved by the sports people is normally attributed to append to association with the products of the specific corporate. This has come in the form of use of the aspects of the heroes in movies, computer games, branding of products as well as active promotional activities. The corporation is fully aware that by associating with a certain sports personality, the fans of the individuals are bound to become attracted to its products. The sponsorship deals have become lucrative by the day owing to the additional advertising stints that normally feature the sports hero.
The pressure to perform and the heightened need to stay at the centre of focus are known to grip most sports heroes who are unable to live in the present and accept their situation. Just as any other aspect of life, times change and the best are always yet to surface. As a result, the most revered player today could wake up to a tomorrow where the competition for the top spot heats up and new blood comes to the limelight. His status as the best dissolves and focus on his excellence is severed.As a result, most of the aspects of his celebrity lifestyle become non-existent and his position is occupied by a new individual, in spite of he previous legendary proportions (Delaney and Madigan, 74).
This sudden change in status (and the fear of it too) without the hopes of bouncing back has contributed to most sports heroes succumbing to performance enhancing substances in order to post an improving scale of performance and measure up to the anticipated level as posited by Harris (p 138) . The widespread use of cocaine and other performance boosting drugs is borne out of the direct and indirect pressure by coaching staff as well as fans. The resultant effct on the youth who emulate them with fervor has been far reaching and no amount of damage control can repair the dents. Sports heroes are human and a prone to mistakes and human errors. However, their status in society appends a huge burden regarding their conduct.
The act that the youth look up to them for motivation creates the need for exemplary conduct on and off-camera. Thus, their involvement in law-breaking activities is always received with mixed feelings, with support and loath coming from the very fans who revere them. Most people will argue that their propensity to commit the crime should be overlooked owing to their status in society while others push the authorities to make an example out of them. Most of these legal tussles end up in a back and forth battle as observed in the case of OJ Simpsons (Gilbert, p148).Sports heroes act as promoters of social integration. Differences in social setting s have dissolved under the influence of sports with the most notable being the racial factors.
Spectators of all racial and social inclinations share favorite players, thus propelling the integration that extends beyond the fans. For example, in American culture, sports played a specific role in integrating blacks into mainstream society. The inspiration by successful sports personalities paves way for dissolution of long-standing cliches and beliefs as articulated by Delaney and Madigan (p 70).Sports provide the most thrilling form of entertainment and recreation to most individuals. The fact that the reverence of sports has culminated into a scenario with implication on the lives of individuals is not deniable. The fervor with which sporting activities are adored is reprehensible for the outcomes discussed above.
As a result, it is imperative for individuals to accord sports heroes the due reverence while holding in mind that the physical aspect of the heroism is only restricted to certain aspects of the lives of the perceived hero.