With the revelations that Tiger Woods may be a roboathlete, but “all too human” are we watching the end of the era of “athlete as hero?”
An athlete who performs well under pressure is not the same as a hero who performs well and does the right thing under pressure. Fame and money does not a hero make. You may say, “Yeah, but teens and young adults will continue to see these rich and famous superstar athletes and superstar celebrities — both with full sets of tawdry baggage – as heroes.”
I wonder about that. If that self-centered, lying, cheating and arrogant athlete or celebrity or politician is acting very similarly to the dad (let’s face it, most of the fallen heroes are men) who lied to your mom and abandoned you, it can only be a matter of time before you make the connection.
Recently I had a discussion with some colleagues about great leaders and came to the conclusion that what they have in common –which also makes them heroes. What they seem to have are the following:
- the JUDGMENT to know the right thing to do
- the INTEGRITY to do it
- the CHARACTER to stand up to those who don’t do it
- the COURAGE to stop those who won’t do it
Our discussion then turned to the topic of heroes in sports and with the fall of Tiger Woods we were hard pressed to come up with one. After thirty minutes of pulling our hair out, we came up with someone.
John Wooden was the NCAA’s winningest basketball coach, leading UCLA to 10 national championships in 12 years. In fact many of his players who went on to be superstars in the NBA will say that playing under Coach Wooden was the highlight of their careers.
I might be wrong about this, but I believe John Wooden once said that the measure of a great leader, and I will add a true hero, is that years after the people who worked for or under them have left, they come back to tell that special person about their children, their careers and what they did with their lives.
Who’s your hero? What qualities did they possess? Have you thanked them (or their family, if they have died) recently ?