Why We Idolize Professional Athletes

Why do people idolize professional athletes?

Toastmasters Table Topic by William Molina

People idolize professional athletes because

  • They are the closest to real superheroes the common man sees.
  • They do amazing feats we can see or read about daily during the sports season.
  • News channels show their athletic accomplishments.
  • You can easily buy clothing bearing their image, number, or team.
  • Throngs of men and boys imagine being them.

What is the real reason for our adulation?

Because enough people say they are special, we agree, and offer our fandom.

There are a lot of other athletes who accomplish amazing feats without millions of dollars, fame, or fawning sports commentators. Often, they are known only to others in their field.

still shot of climber Ashima Shiraishi from On the Road to Sport & Speed Open Nationals with Ashima Shiraishi and Clif Bar

They do it because they can and because their passion drives them. Are those reasons any less admirable than busloads of money and fame? Shouldn’t that make them more worthy of regard?

still shot from The Hotshots | California Wildfires: The New Normal

What about true superheroes who save lives for significantly less money and no fame?

  • Firemen
  • Policemen
  • Smokejumpers and Hotshots
  • EMTs
  • Military men and women

(sorry, nurses and doctors, you’re not risking your lives and are well-compensated)

We need to rethink what qualities deserve our respect and adulation. Regular people doing hard, life-threatening things are not regular for choosing to do them. They’re not famous either.

Would professional athletes do what they do for a fraction of the money and no fame?

Would they?

What is a hero?

Who really deserves our appreciation and regard?

Maybe, not someone who makes millions of dollars playing a game in a country he believes is out to get him for the color of his skin – the only country that would pay him so well to play that game.

Or someone who hits his wife.

Or someone who leads her country’s soccer team and disrespects its leader and the national flag on the world stage – despite this being the only country offering her support and opportunity to become the world-class, female, gay, soccer player she is.

Why do we idolize professional athletes? Sadly, because we’re told to and we don’t know about the others.

Your turn

Who is your hero and why?


Modified featured image from pxhere.com.

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