…the possibly premature end to a career in professional baseball is not. But tell that to a sports journalist. This morning, on my drive to work, the sports guy on the radio station I was listening to referred to the torn ACL and meniscus of Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera, and how his career may be over at age of 42. The age of 42…not 24. He’s had 18 seasons in the Major leagues, countless honors and awards, and is considered a lock for the Hall of Fame. I’m not saying it’s not sad, and I’m not saying it’s not an ending that would take adjusting to, but calling it a “tragedy”. Really? The man has spent 18 years PLAYING A GAME and getting paid MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. He’s respected and admired in his chosen profession. And he’s still a young man. Not by sports standards, I know, but by just about all other standards. I adore Tim Duncan. By basketball standards, he’s old. He’s well-respected, received many awards and honors, etc. And if he suffered a career-ending injury tomorrow, I’d be sad, both for him and for the Spurs, but I wouldn’t describe it as a tragedy. Not by a long shot.
This got me thinking about the other words we abuse. “Hero” comes to mind. The biggest misuse of the word again comes from the Sports arena. With a great stretch of the imagination, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant (gag), or Dwane Wade could be characterized as heroes in the Homeric sense. In that context, a hero can be defined as “a warrior-chieftain of special strength, courage, or ability”. I’m down with special strength and ability, but courage? It’s not like they have to make a drive to the basket amongst sniper fire, people. Welles Crowther was a hero. To call a multi-millionaire basketball player, even my Timmy, a hero cheapens the word.
Another word we misuse, perhaps more than any other, is “love”. Among the definitions of love are:
- a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
- a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
These days, we use the word “love” to describe our feelings towards our cars, shoes, smartphones and, sometimes, family. I had to stop myself from using the word to describe my feelings for the Spurs and for Tim Duncan, though at least I’d be referencing human beings. I do have affection for the Spurs and Tim Duncan, for their sportsmanship and humility, their skills and their loyalty. I don’t know how profound, tender, or passionate it is, except maybe during the playoffs, when it’s a tad more passionate (“Manuuuuuuuuuuuu!!!!”).
I’m gonna head a bit deeper into the pool and share this from The Guardian.
We are not born with our values: they are embedded and normalised by the messages we receive from our social environment. Most advertising appeals to and reinforces extrinsic values. It doesn’t matter what the product is: by celebrating image, beauty, wealth, power and status, it helps create an environment that shifts our value system. Some adverts appear to promote intrinsic values, associating their products with family life and strong communities. But they also create the impression that these values can be purchased, which demeans and undermines them. Even love is commingled with material aspiration, and those worthy of this love mostly conform to a narrow conception of beauty, lending greater weight to the importance of image.
Let’s not forget. Tragic is a child dying of cancer, or thousands of people murdered by planes turned into missiles. A hero is someone who risks or sometimes gives their lives to save someone else, and love is what we should feel for our spouses, our children, our parents, and our friends.
Now I’m off the to Apple store. Tragically, my iPhone, which I looooove, has died, and I’m hoping the tech will be my hero and restore it.