From our couches and easy chairs we sports fans tend to confer a moral status on our favorite athletes that they usually do not deserve. Michael Jordan is now confessing to 60 Minutes an extensive and damaging gambling habit. This has been known for some time. When “MJ” was winning six championships with the Bulls, his supporters excused such behavior with references to his “competitive nature.” Or they said gambling was his choice of “recreation,” and besides, he could afford it. More recently, Jordan’s philandering has been exposed.
Remember the commencial that sang, “I Want to Be Like Mike”? I do, and I don’t, if you know what I mean.
This is not to pick on Jordan. But his fall should remind us that sports figures have a limited utility as heroes. Better to confer that status on the less flashy and pampered people all around us: moms and dads, firefighters and soldiers, teachers and pastors. Sounds like a good bet to me.