It’s no great stretch to say that people – kids and adults alike – make heroes out of the wrong kinds of people. We idolise celebrities for their movies, their music, sometimes for absolutely NOTHING (see Kardashians). At least musos and actors actually put in some hard work, unlike the Lindsay Lohans, Paris Hiltons, Kim Kardashians of the world. I apologise, those are the only examples I have as I stopped paying attention to people who are famous for nothing about 5 years ago.
Growing up, as an athlete, I always idolised sports people. Greg Norman was one of my first admirations. Steffi Graff another. Tiger Woods, while I didn’t necessarily “like” him I understood the challenges he had overcome, the talent, the drive, the hard work he had put in to achieve the unthinkable. While I didn’t understand cycling as a sport, I could understand and respect the achievements of Lance Armstrong. What a story he had – cancer survivor to seven time Tour de France champion.
When the news broke of Tiger’s multiple affairs I wasn’t shocked. It wasn’t the first time someone (ok, a man) of such fame and fortune had been unfaithful to his wife. Maybe the number of women that came forward as having been a Tigress was slightly shocking, but the whole thing wasn’t that much of a surprise. I may not have been surprised, but I was disappointed. I expected more from him. But then, Tiger had let me down before. To cut a long story short, I had 20 junior golfers in Hawaii. Not a sole around, except for us, and Tiger was being escorted past in a golf cart. He didn’t even have the decency to wave to the kids shouting for his attention. He didn’t have to stop, chat, sign autographs, just wave. But he ignored them, as if they weren’t even there. That spoke volumes about his character, to me. His actions with these multiple women, outside of his marriage, spoke more volumes.
Yesterday, I read the headline that Lance Armstrong had admitted to Oprah that he had used performance enhancing drugs. It was like someone punched me in the stomach. Another athlete, someone I admired, thought a great role model (as did most of the world – Livestrong!) had failed us again. Someone that kids looked up to, who had been an ambassador for such an important issue, had been ripped down off his pedestal. And honestly, I felt stupid. For years, while accusations flew, I believed him when he said he did NOT take performance enhancing drugs. I thought others were jealous, spiteful, trying to tarnish a solid, honest, amazing career. Now that belief is shattered. And one of the worst parts about it is that he became the face of surviving cancer, and played on our emotions over this disease that touches everyone in some shape or form, to portray some kind of hero that he never truly was.
If our kids are to learn from the likes of Woods and Armstrong, they will grow up believing that we can and must do anything to get to the top, and once there, we can do whatever the hell we want. I hope that’s not the lesson kids today learn from these guys.
I want Nick to have true idols. Idols who don’t do what they do for the recognition, or for the money. Idols who look danger in the face every day, and do it to protect others. Soldiers, firemen, policemen. Idols who make sacrifices to better the lives of others. Doctors, nurses, teachers. I want him to understand that a true hero is someone who makes a difference to others without seeking recognition for it.
If he is to idolise sports stars, I hope it’s the likes of Roger Federer (and God Forbid he EVER has a scandal come out, my soul will be completely crushed) or even Lleyton Hewitt or Steve Yzerman or his namesake Nicklas Lidstrom. (Apologies again, I’m a huge tennis and NHL fan, so am drawing blanks on other sporting role models.)
Those who say that we’re in a time when there are no heroes, they just don’t know where to look.
RONALD REAGAN, First Inaugural Address, Jan. 20, 1981
Society certainly doesn’t know where to look for heroes. We think we have to look to TV, movies, radio, the footy field, the tennis court, the golf course, when all we have to do is look to our local schools, police stations, fire departments, hospitals/ambos. They may not make the money athletes and actors do, they may not have the fame of a musician or reality TV star, but they have the hearts and the courage. That is what I want my son to look up to. That is what I want my son to respect.
Who do you idolise? How do you teach your kids about idols?
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