The tag line "hero" gets used a lot in social media, literature, history and athletic events.
We have all those super heroes in all those Marvel movies. While those stories are all made up, of course, the lives of the super heroes are at risk while they set about to protect others and save something worth saving. This kind of heroism plays itself out for real in many ways among many people all through our great country. First responders, military personnel and just people being in the right place and the right time often do heroic things.
In relation to athletic events, the term "hero" gets applied to a lot of people who I think fail to earn that title or distinction.
Recently, the world FIFA organization held their Women's World Cup. Now while I will admit to not having much interest in soccer, I am usually gung ho for all things American. Four years ago, I watched part of one game when the U.S. team won the title. I was glad they won.
This year, the Americans won again but this time I was not glad.
I watched a spectacle of the U.S. team run the score up on an over-matched team in Thailand as the Americans won 13-0. That kind of score is like a football team winning a game by an 80-0 count.
The U.S. team, although they were representing their country, had many players chose to start kneeling during the National Anthem to show their shame of being American. Though they were forced in later games to stand, several made it a point to not pay attention and to demonstrate a lack of respect for the country that sent them there.
During the tournament, American player Megan Rapinoe used her platform as an athlete to make political statements, villfying our president and disparaging our country. A strident lesbian, she used her platform to declare that gay people were much better people than straight people and went on to declare herself a national hero.
After the Cup was over, Rapinoe demanded an immediate raise for herself and her friends, citing the pay difference between the men's and women's teams in America. She did not mention that the players were paid from profits generated by the tournament. While the women's competition generated several million dollars, the men's tournament generates billions.
Rapinoe is no hero.
Some of the team even suggested that they were as good or better than the men's team and deserved more money. The problem with that stance is that the World Cup women's champions played an under-15-year-old boys team from Dallas and lost 3-1. No, they are not as good as the men and would lose a matchup with the men a lot worse that the 13-0 drubbing the women handed Thailand.
At least there was one hero on the team this year. After winning the championship and receiving the trophy, the team's three leaders discarded the U.S. flag to the ground, stepping on it in the process. Player Kelley O'Hara raced in and scooped up the flag and displayed it in the manner as the other teams. She was a hero but I am confident her teammates were not appreciative of what she did.
Earlier this year, one of the best soccer defensive players in the nation, Jaelene Hinkle, was dropped from the team because of her refusal to promote the gay/lesbian life style. The team was scheduled to participate in a Gay Pride Parade wearing pro-gay jerseys and Hinkle declined to participate. She was attacked by several teammates as a bigoted homophobic and was dropped from the team.
While several members of the team took to social media to condemn and vilify Hinkle, Hinkle did not reply in kind. Hinkle was not playing to advance a political or social agenda, she plays, or would have played, to represent her country.
Heroes don't use their position on a sports team for self aggrandizement or to push agendas unrelated to their roles as athletic representatives.
Sports fans have all seen stories of professional athletes who decide to break their contracts to demand more money. While I have no problem with pro players looking to make as much as they can in their short careers, there is more to pro sports than just money.
One athlete labeled heroic was Hall of Famer Michael Jordan and he actually earned it. He was not one of the highest paid players even though he was easily the best player on the NBA courts. He played for less to allow the team to sign better athletes. They won six of seven titles at one stretch.
Jordan also played when he was injured or sick when the team really needed him on the court. In 1997, Jordan was suffering an acute case of food poisoning but played a NBA finals game anyway. He scored 38 points, sweating profusely, and wearing ice packs on his head during breaks and timeouts. He scored the winning shot.
Heroes don't do things to call attention to themselves. They don't do things that reflect badly on their team or who they represent. They put others first, themselves second.
The University of Arkansas recently fired their head coaches for their men's football and basketball teams. Basketball coach Mike Anderson could have done nothing for a few years per the terms of the Arkansas contract and lived the easy life. Instead, he got a new job at a major university in less than a month, thereby saving the U of A a lot of money.
Head football coach Bret Bielema had a contract like Anderson's, where he would be paid his million-dollar contract until he got a new coaching job. He announced he got a job in the New England Patriots' front office and would not be coaching, keeping his Arkansas money flowing. However, it was found out that he really was coaching linemen so there will be legal ramifications.
Anderson, a good man, did the right thing and I consider him a hero worth emulating. Bielema? Not so much.
Editor's note: John McGee, an award-winning columnist, sports writer and art teacher at Pea Ridge elementary schools, writes a regular sports column for The Times. The opinions expressed are those of the writer. He can be contacted through The Times at email@example.com.Sports on 07/31/2019
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