It takes someone special to be a hero

We all need heroes. We need someone to look up to, someone to inspire us, and someone who leaves a profound mark on our lives. But what type of person fits the criteria of a hero—and is deserving of the title?
Someone who can throw a football, score a goal, or shoot 10-under par—all the while making millions of dollars a year—is not a hero. They simply are good at what they do.
For years I obsessed over Wayne Gretzky. He was my hero from the time I saw his biography video when I was eight years old.
“Wayne Gretzky—Above and Beyond” was watched religiously by my younger brother and me three times a day for about six weeks straight, and then a refresher about once a week after that until the tape mysteriously went missing (I really don’t want to talk about it— we were devastated).
Although, in retrospect, I do recall my mom saying: “If I have to listen to that intro song one more time. . . .” (she denies it to this day).
Anyway, The Great One was just that to me. Not just because he was a gifted hockey player, but because of who he was and what he offered so many people.
He wasn’t The Great One, after all, because he wanted to look good or because he wanted to make a ton of money.
In fact, when Gretzky was traded to the L.A. Kings in 1988, he negotiated his salary— backwards. He claimed it was too much. And when management insisted he accept the money, he agreed to take a certain amount only if the remainder could be split up between his teammates.
Gretzky would not have been my hero had he not portrayed the morals and values he did—on and off the ice.
It has been said that Gretzky made average players good and good players great. Everything about him, not just his skill, made his team better.
That’s a hero, if you ask me.
Very similar, actually, to another NHL hero, Alexi Yashin, who sat out the 1998/99 season while playing for the Ottawa Senators because he wanted to renegotiate his contract.
Apparently, 3.6 million (U.S.) a year just wasn’t quite cutting it.
Six years later, Yashin still gets booed every time he steps onto Ottawa ice. He was a local hero who disappointed a lot of loyal fans who resented him for his selfish behaviour.
What I can’t understand is why Yashin was a hero to anyone to begin with. He never did anything special for the community, saved a life, nor influenced his teammates to not only be better players, but better people, too.
Why is Tiger Woods a hero? Because he wins dozens of championships, looks really good in a Nike hat, and has a hot wife? Anyone can donate money to a charity or ask for a donation on their website—it doesn’t make them a hero.
The way I see it, the true heroes of sport are those who have a profound impact on other people.
Like the volunteer coaches and the parents who drive to all their kids’ games, get up for the 6 a.m. practices, and buy them a blue Slush-Puppie afterwards, watch the kids go through a million emotions, and be there after the first loss to comfort them.
I’ve never seen so many sports teams in such a small town that have such dedicated coaches and parents who aren’t at the practices and games because of the bonus cheque.
They’re there because they love the sport, they love kids, and they want to make a difference.
So really think about it. Who’s your hero?

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