Friday, January 9, 2009

Heroes, Role Models and Diversions

As a young forty-something and father, I have no illusions about the role sports play in daily life. Unlike children, adolescents and even  some adults (& you know who you are!), I see professional athletics for what they really are, highly paid entertainers.  Following your favorite sports franchise(s) satisfies the desire to create a diversion from the stresses of daily living.  This need might also be filled with hobbies such as scrap booking, bird watching or gardening.  The difference between a weekend scrapbooker and NBA player, however,  is that top athletes are put on pedestals and branded as heroes.

Not to preach, but athletes (like entertainers and actors) are NOT heroes, and most can not even be counted as role models.   To the kids out there...a definition of a hero is someone who is willing to put the well-being of another (including strangers) ahead of themselves.  Our United States military risks their lives 24/7 for our freedom.  Police officers, firefighters, and rescue workers remain on alert for the safety of all Americans.  I would also argue a teacher might be hero if he/she has the ability to hold a young person to higher standards of learning and conduct for the betterment of his/her future.   Kids may consider a parent a hero, but from a parent's perspective....parenting IS our job and our primary goal is to be our children's primary role model.

So where am I going with all this?  From a previous entry I mentioned that I neglected to pick-up trash at the movie theater and was called out by Brenna.  The next morning at preschool I pulled up along the red curb (in a light rain mind you with no one else around) to drop the triplets off and Alec said "Daddy, what are you doing?  This isn't a parking space."  Perhaps, the kids are more alert now that they're getting older.  Perhaps, I'm making excuses.  Perhaps I should be a better role model!

Back to the zillion dollar sports industry.  Yes, most athletics are paid obscene salaries and some behave badly.  Can you think of one or two or three, etc.?  With that said,  I have an enormous  THANK YOU to deliver to MY favorite football team that's long overdue. You see back in the fall of 1999, my Dad was fighting a losing battle with colon cancer.  In fact, he held on for at least six months beyond what anyone expected.

This was Mom MD's final year of medical school and our destination for her residency was still unknown.  She was extremely busy and I often found myself shuttling 1 year old Brenna to and from childcare and after work either coming home to an empty house or going to my Mom and Dad's house where my Mom, a pillar of strength and courage, held down the fort.  Not only did Mom attend to Dad who was rapidly deteriorating both physically and mentally, but she was taking care of her elderly Mother (Granny) who lived with them.   

To top it all off, we were having difficulty with our drunken idiot of a next door neighbor who threatened us and threw broken glass in our backyard...Good times, good times.   Honestly, what kept me going during such a down time in my life was my diversion....sports....more specifically football and the St. Louis RAMS!  This team came from nowhere to post a 13-3 NFC record and #1 Seed.   Mom Pre-MD was kind enough to spend her morning calling and calling to obtain two tickets to the divisional game against the Vikings on 1/16/00 in which we were fortunate to have been able to attend....the first home playoff game in St. Louis history and a blowout victory.

Sadly, my Dad passed away two days later, five days before the famous Ricky Proehl catch from Kurt Warner in the NFC Championship to defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 11-6 on rout to a Super Bowl XXXIV victory on January 30th.  I only hope my Dad would understand how painful and difficult a time it was (for all of us).  Brenna was my shining star, but the Rams with Kurt Warner who went from grocery stocker to QB gave me something to look forward to, talk about with coworkers and kept me going.....THANK YOU St. Louis RAMS........!


Kat said...

It is amazing what a little distraction can do for the soul.

Et tu, Don said...

Damon, good post. I will always remember that Super Bowl because we saw it together. I even have a picture of taken when we were watching it at the Roby's. I've always admired Kurt Warner, not just because of his abilities, but his humbleness, his faith, and his character. It was nice to see the Cards succeed after years of utter failure. How ironic would it be if Warner could win a Super Bowl for the "old St. Louis" team.