I read an interesting article by Jeff Pearlman today concerning the recent plight of Roger Clemens. He writes,
No, the vanity is what, one must think, brought Clemens to this dreaded point in his life; the belief that throwing a baseball — a random act somehow deemed valuable by our society — is important and powerful and worthy of great riches and praise and status.”
It is interesting because in our society, in our culture, in our nature there is something very troubling, though very subtle, about how we idolize athletes. I grew up playing sports, loving sports, and even loving to hate the rival teams. Riding the emotional roller coaster it became addictive. But when I was overseas and no one there knew anything about my favorite basketball team, let alone how many national championships they had, and before I knew it, the identity connected with a certain team, sport, athlete, came obsolete. For this I am grateful for it freed me.
We praise athletes for being able to run fast, throw hard, jump high, without giving much value to what is truly valuable in life. We pack stadiums to watch college kids run back forth on a field to the point that sports have become our identity.
I don’t know Roger Clemens personally so I cannot judge if he is proud or not. I know that he has been a phenomenal athlete throughout his brilliant career. My mom and I used to look forward to watching him play and we thoroughly enjoyed hearing about his work ethic. It was most impressive the longevity of his career. I must admit that I admired him for his athletic ability the same way I admired Michael Jordan in his “greatness” on the basketball court.
I don’t think it is wrong to appreciate a competitor like Clemens or Jordan, like I don’t think it is wrong to appreciate a brilliant musician. But I don’t know these men personally, and I wonder if I don’t give the credit due to the men and women in my life that are excellent in being good husbands and wives, in being good at their jobs day in and day out without praise.
How does one define greatness? Is it how well someone can play a particular sport? Or does greatness take on different characteristics?
If I had to truly weigh what is important in life I would come to the conclusion that the men and women I do know who love the Lord and live for Him faithfully have earned my respect infinitely far more than a man who throws an incredible fastball, whom I don’t even know.
Maybe greatness lies in the one who is a servant. The one who loves their enemies. The one who chooses to humble themselves so others can take the seat of honor.
I believe that I read that somewhere. I also believe that it is right and true.