Real heroes found closer to home than sports world

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Many young people often turn to the world of sports as a sourcefor heroes to look up to and emulate. Recent events from the sportsworld offer examples of why young people – or anyone else in searchof a hero – should look elsewhere.

The indictment of San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds onfederal perjury and obstruction of justice charges is the latestblack eye for a sports figure idolized by many. Bonds is of courseinnocent until proven guilty, but many will see the charges asfurther confirmation of cheating by who knows how many major leaguebaseball players.

In football, former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick hasbeen banished from the gridiron after admitting to a role in adespicable dogfighting scandal. He awaits sentencing nextmonth.

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Criminal acts should not be the only reason to pause the heroworship of sports figures. What appears to be unmitigated greed onthe part of New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez is aprime example.

Rodriquez, apparently discontent with being paid a quarter of abillion dollars over 10 years, opted out of his contract recentlyto become a free agent in hopes of making even more money. He nowmay return to the Yankees under a new 10-year deal that would payhim $275 million – a $25 million raise.

In all honesty, it is hard to justify any professional athlete’ssalary when considering the contributions they make to society whencompared to those of teachers, police officers, soldiers and othersfar more deserving of praise and admiration.

With some exceptions, the work done by those in the lattercategory is nowhere near as exciting as throwing a touchdown passor hitting a homerun. As such, nobody is lining up to sign them tomulti-million dollar contracts or to put them on television.

However, the value of their work – teachers imparting knowledgeto future generations, soldiers risking their lives to protect ourfreedoms and officers standing tall for law and order – is worthfar more than any sports star can imagine. Young people would dowell to recognize the real heroes of today’s society.