Heroes Are Not Self-Appointed

Written By Galen White

When we think of heroes, we most often think of someone else. But have you ever thought of yourself as a hero?

That may be a difficult question to answer if you really think about it. First off, if I claimed myself to be a hero, I would immediately be labeled arrogant, egotistical, and most likely, a liar. Rightfully so. It’s one thing to have saved someone’s life and be labeled by others as a hero; but with no more than what I’ve done in my life, I’d be a fool to utter – or even entertain the thought – of such a claim.

Most of us, however, have dreamed of being a hero. And that’s good. While the dream may have been nothin’ more than scorin’ the winnin’ touchdown or tossin’ in a basket to win the game in overtime, we would still be considered a hero. Even if the dream is of saving the life of someone or saving the life of a pet, it still reflects your desire to do something good. That in itself, to me, is part of the definition of a hero.

Do sports heroes belong in the same class as other heroes? Maybe; maybe not. Obviously, that remark does not mean an athlete or coach cannot be a real hero. For example, a sports figure who is determined to be a great role model for kids – as well as adults – is certainly a hero in my book.

If my memory is correct, Charles Barkley, a well known, highly talented, and very successful basketball player of the NBA, created a whole lotta hoopla a number of years ago while he was still a pro player. I remember seeing the story unfold on television as the play was over and he and an opposing team player headed back down court.

Trailing a step or two behind his opponent and for no reason other than to inflict harm as he passed by, Mr. Barkley threw a vicious elbow to the face of his opponent. The opponent was taken totally by surprise and was unsuspecting of any impending assault from anyone.

I’m sure Mr. Barkley thought the referee wasn’t looking, but he was wrong on that point, too. The ref immediately called a technical foul, and if I’m not mistaken, Barkley was ejected from the game. In my humble opinion, he should have been banned from every playing the came again; sucker punches have no place in athletics.

Later on, someone asked Mr. Barkley if he thought he was the kind of role model we needed for kids. His arrogant reply was something like this, “I ain’t no role model! I don’t want to be a role model! You media people are trying to make me a hero, but I ain’t one.”

Well, I have to agree with him in sayin’ he ain’t no hero, but unfortunately, Mr. Barkley wasn’t smart enough to figure out the choice wasn’t his to make. Nor was it the choice of the media, either. But to many kids who dreamed of being an NBA player just like Sir Charles, he was, indeed, a hero. He is a hero, certainly not for his moral attitude and outstanding behavior, but solely for his basketball ability. Trust me, there’s a lot more to being a hero than physical ability.

In most cases a hero is someone who does the right thing without forethought or afterthought. It is someone who helps without being asked. It is someone whose actions have reflected honor and dignity, trust and compassion. A sneak attack on an unsuspecting individual doesn’t even come close to my definition.

Ever hear the phrase “beauty is in the beholder”? Well, the same is true with heroes. The decision to look upon someone as a hero belongs to those doin’ the lookin’!

I’m sorry, but I can’t help but believe we’ve made some pretty lame choices of some whom are deemed heroes. On the other hand, I can’t help but believe there are a lot of heroes walking around who are unheralded. You may be one of them.


Galen WhiteGalen White has written articles for several papers in North Louisiana and is now retired.

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