Kareem Abdul Jabar offers some thoughts on the difference between being a sports or other entertainment idol and being a hero. From Esquire:
Lots of athletes talk about all their sacrifices. “I practiced when everyone else was going to parties,” they complain. Boo hoo. No one made them give up a balanced childhood. And they weren’t “sacrificing” in order to improve the world or their community, just themselves. Reality shows are filled with contestants who claim they are only in it “because of my family” or “for my children.” More bullcrap. They risk nothing in the hopes of a great reward. Sure, they might use the money to help their families, but in the end, they want the spotlight, the acknowledgement, the adulation. That selfish desire is what motivates them, and that selfish desire is what makes them Not Heroes.
In general, professional athletes aren’t any better. Yet, why do we persist in turning athletes into heroes? One reason is that they embody an important aspect of the American Dream. Many professional athletes come from economically depressed backgrounds. Yet, through enormous discipline and dedication, they have made themselves into successes. They now have lots of fame, friends, finances, and fans. Every child’s dream.
While we should applaud them for their achievements, we shouldn’t yet elevate them to the status of heroes. Being a hero depends on what they do next.
Read about his real heroes here.