Saturday, February 20, 2010

Looking for a hero

As I saw Tiger Woods reading out his apology to his fans, for his extra-marital affairs, I couldn’t help but wonder if he needed to do it. One school of thought said that ‘he better have done it! He cheated his fans’. The other school of thought said ‘hold on! Why does he need to apologise to us?’ The former thought is probably something that would be more acceptable to fans, than the latter. The refrain would be – ‘he was a hero and a role model to so many, and he let them down’. This is what I am uncomfortable with.

I had read an article written by Rohit Brijnath (the best sports writer in the world, in my humble opinion) that said that these top sportsmen are sporting champions, not necessarily heroes. I so agree with him. What I fail to understand is the need to crucify Woods for cheating his wife, the need to crucify John Terry for having an affair.

How well did we know Tiger Woods? Yes, we may know about the majors he won; we might know of the incredible shot he pulled off at the 2005 Masters; we might know that his first name is actually Eldrick; but what else do we know about him as a person? Precious little! That is the truth. On the golf course, he is a champion; outside it, we do not know him. So, why does he need to apologise to his fans who know nothing about Tiger Woods the man?

Don’t we all hold sports stars and film stars to an extremely high moral standard? Now, just think that you had a friend, and he or she cheats on the partner. Would we expect that friend to apologise to the partner that was cheated upon or would we expect that friend to call all of us over and apologise to all of us? I don’t think we’d feel aggrieved if the friend did not offer us an apology. We might feel bad, though, if the aggrieved partner has not been apologised to.

That is what should have happened. The press and the fans should have just let Tiger Woods be. Let him apologise to his wife, let him sort his life out, the one he leads away from the golfing greens. And once he comes back to swing his club, let us welcome back and cheer the champion that he once was on his turf.

And I hope that we all realise that not all sporting champions are real heroes. They are people who can go wrong, who can be insecure, who can be obnoxious, who we should accept as human. If we are to look for real heroes, let us search a little closer. Well, I did that and found my real heroes.

I think of that wonderful lady who sat next to me and helped me with my homework, and did not even make the slightest mention of her back spasm that badly needed rest. I think of that caring man who rushed me to a doctor when I had a 101 fever, and did not even bother that he was himself running a temperature of a 102. When I was old enough to realise this, I realised who my real heroes are. Believe me; some of my sporting heroes have let me down in one way or another. That why I looked for real heroes. And they weren’t difficult to find.

So the next time people mention Tiger Woods or Terry, let’s accept them for what we know them for; their prowess in the sporting arena and nothing else, for that is the only part of them that we intimately know.

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