My goal, again, is to get people to start thinking again, and on their own. As we continue into this new millenium it is becoming increasingly obvious that the world is changing in pace and focus to a speedier, more instantaneous place. As we make decisions we find ourselves torn between the thought of what others have and what we don’t have. It is this idea that concerns me more and more. Do we glorify others because we seek what they have, or something similar, or is it because we are surrounded by reminders of how people reach their goals? I wonder what a scientific study would find out about the human spirit in this matter.
First on the list is sports. The modern athlete is a remarkable specimen. He or she is both wonderfully powerful and quite fragile. As one grows up in America today we are bombarded by signs that athletics, even in school, is an industry of business capable of making people rich and famous. Our high school athletes are pampered and groomed for future success, both in their particular sports arena and in the bank. What young boy or girl has not found themselves daydreaming about being on a championship team, or being an individual champion, raking in millions of dollars in revenue?
Have not most of us found ourselves thinking “what if?” we had actually carried out a successful pursuit of a sports career and what it would have done for our lives, and the people around us? The American Dream, as we call it, can be attained in this way, if only we could be given the chance and the physical ability to do so. Wouldn’t it be nice? In all of our imagining we come back to our senses that only a select few can reach those levels of success, and then our balloon is burst.
Look at today’s professional sports, however, and you see something that has grown into a monster. There is no doubt that the athletes, agents, managers and business people involved are only taking advantage of what we citizens are demanding. This brings me to a major point: how important is sports to the average citizen today in our country? Do you find yourself Monday mornings after your home football team lost feeling a depression of massive proportions and not being able to think straight, even at work?
Is your stomach ready to explode from nervous tension when you watch your sports team or favorite sports figure on the television competing for thousands and thousands of dollars? Do you find yourself spending greater and greater amounts of your hard-earned cash on going to see your favorite teams or athletes, and coming home feeling as if you had just spent a huge amount of time worth the money?
There are many questions to ask yourself about what you see in sports, but the biggest question of all is how you feel about the personalities you follow, and maybe without thinking about it, worship. Do our sports people today deserve our admiration and loyalty? Are they bigger than life itself, giving us total or final satisfaction that our lives are senseless without them? Americans need to start asking themselves these questions soon before the results begin to prove unreversable. This is where we begin to observe the effects on our children, the very lives that are easily influenced by what we ourselves do, say, and believe in. This is where the real threat comes to a head, for it is our children that I hope we think about when we show our true feelings towards the glorification of sports and the athletes and individuals who compete in them.
Every day in the press we read about professional and amateur athletes doing and saying things that are less than admirable. Some of us spend a great amount of effort in making it our business to know what it is they are saying and doing, therefore the modern day reporter keeps us informed. Why? Will, say, an action that a Barry Bonds or an ARod commits influence our lives so much as to make our concentrated focus to getting more and more information about that person? Will any of them save my life, or cure cancer, or teach my child something important about life other than there is alot of frivolity in the world? I don’t think an athlete with all that fame and fortune can even relate to the common goals of a modern American other than that one day in the past he or she may have been somewhere dreaming the same or similar dreams as we. But those memories are long distant and ancient!
Entertainers are in a similar category. I see some of my friends and relatives immersed in everything that goes on in Hollywood. They watch every awards show they can, read every tabloid they can get ther hands on, and listen to/pass on any gossip they can hear or read. Some headlines feed into the everyday world of fantasy for people who seem infatuated, or addicted to what is going on in the personal lives of movie stars, television stars and other entertainers. Suddenly the time is gone for anything worth enjoying, and the envy of a life in the world of fame haunts us to attacking the very people we demand to admire. What a diva’s new baby is doing, who is sleeping with whom, how long a marriage will last; these are all matters we absorb ourselves into. Even reality television has gotten fans to turn their addictions of these shows and their participants into the new royalty of America.
Read stories about the history of Medieval and Imperialist Europe and you will see many, many comparisons between the royal families and their corrupt, over-indulgent lives and the stories you will hear and read about in today’s tabloids. Ask yourself this question then; what is it all to mean to me? And why is this all so important to me? Will these individuals you worship end up doing something special for you? Will they really make a difference in the quality of your life, or anyone else you know? Do you call them role models? Who are they role models for? Would you like your children, if you have some, to be just like them? Think hard on that before you answer. If you do read and watch quite a bit involving these people, you had better be careful in saying what you really think. Would our children learn something fantastic about life from individuals who flaunt money and carelessness about, I would myself honor them with praise. I don’t think I can, though, and for quite the obvious reasons.
Americans have a need to pursue something better. When our country was founded we made a new type of society that had never really existed before. We created one in which anyone, with some sad exceptions, could make an exceptional life for him or herself. It is not true across the board because we have practiced, as a nation, many types of prejudice and discrimination in our times. The hope, however, has always been that each one of us would be given the chance to try. Our children are watching us day by day, observing our examples through how we think, live, and behave.
Are we then sending them a message that famous people, in this case, entertainers and sports figures, are what we all should be like, no matter how bad or disgusting their behavior might be? Who will influence your children? Do you have role models that can represent positive influences in your, and their, life. Or is their a more trivial, less meaningful character being represented in the public scene that you want to accept? For our children’s sake, think about who it is you talk and fuss about. Your children’s futures as human beings are at stake. Whether we like it or not, we have made these people our role models to emulate, and sometimes, copy verbatim. Truly analyze who it is and the messages they send us. Perhaps the future of America is at stake as well.
Just the other day I heard on the news that another pro athlete had said things in public that mad it sound like he was ingrateful to be a successful athlete. How absurd, you say? We know they don’t mean it but it doesn’t make it any easier to hear. Another day I saw that another young person was killed by a drive-by shooting in our town. The major headlines, though, were about how much a prominent baseball star was asking to make before signing his new contract. This is where we have arrived at in America today. Consider what priorities are and you may be surprised to know what the problem is. One can only ask, right?