George F. Will once said, “sports serve society by providing vivid examples of excellence.” This is a true statement, but American culture sensationalizes sports and sports players when we should instead look up to scientists, men and women in the military, teachers, and other members of the community who work towards giving our generation the best possible future as examples of excellence.
Sports are an inspiration across the globe. Sports excite us, empower us, and promote healthy living. Professional sports players are excellent at their craft. Our society celebrates their unparalleled athletic abilities through television, merchandise, and unwavering devotion to teams and their players. When you turn on your television, most of the channels are sports broadcasting channels, and sports are constantly covered on mainstream news networks. In 2017, 111.9 million people watched the Superbowl. In 2016, 3.6 billion people watched the Rio Olympics. Sports are a way of life. From a young age, children play, watch, and follow sports. Professional players grace the covers of magazines weekly, appear on television daily, and are honored constantly for their greatness. The media has created a culture where sports figures are heroes. They are famous because they can play their sport unusually well. Nothing else. They may give millions of dollars to charities and communities, but their sport brought them to that point. Sports are an enriching addition to our culture, but the overemphasis of their societal importance in the media has created a culture where children and adults alike sensationalize the importance of them.
Sports and their players are not the true heroes of our society, despite what the media perpetuates. Instead of idolizing Colin Kaepernick, we should be raving over the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winners who developed “cryo-electron microscopy for the high resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution.” Thanks to them, we may soon have “detailed images of life’s complex machineries in atomic resolution, moving biochemistry into a new era.” Scientists across the globe are making breakthroughs in how we effectively visualize biomolecular processes, combat climate change, and rescue endangered species, yet we are worried about the next Patriots game. Every day, members of the US military are putting their lives on the line to protect our freedom and to inspire others to serve for causes greater than themselves. We should be praising the most recent Medal of Honor recipient, James McCloughan, a Vietnam War army medic who is now a high school teacher. Instead, we eagerly await to see what will happen next to Lonzo, LaMelo, and LiAngelo Ball’s basketball careers. Our society should be looking up to our educators as they look up to Tom Brady. Teachers across the globe are ensuring that the future generations have access to an education, and gain the necessary knowledge and skills to lead a fulfilled life. Don’t get me wrong, Roger Federer’s tennis skills will always be poetry in motion to me, but he isn’t my hero. He may be an example of excellence, but excellence at his sport. True excellence impacts the fate of our society, and our scientists, military veterans, teachers, other unsung heroes of our society do that, not our sports.