We’re living in the golden age of stardom, an age where anybody can rise to infamy. With the internets infinite sharing capabilities, when one person likes something or someone, they can share it, and their friends can share it, casting a viral net over the content. We call this, hype. This is clout generated not by the subject, but by the people, fans, press, and it’s incredibly prevalent in today’s day and age. Since when did stellar athletes achieve A list celebrity status? This phenomena may be lead us into overestimating their true capabilities, giving them the benefit of the doubt on issues, and keeping them relevant for much longer periods of time. Some may argue this isn’t a bad thing, but I will say this: athletes are human too, and it’s best not to place them in a glass case of perfection.
Just a few decades ago, America was graced with never before seen godly talent, guys like Bo Jackson, Michael Jordan, Ronaldo Lima, and Iron Mike Tyson. These guys changed the standards of play. The skills and athleticism they possessed brought a whole new meaning to their games. It became commonplace for these athletes to be sensationalized, marketed, and revered. In Nintendo’s first ever football game, Tecmo Bowl, they featured real NFL players, but none more prominent than Raiders short-lived half back, Bo Jackson. Tecmo took Jackson’s superhero-like powers to a new level with their game, making it a guaranteed touchdown every time he ran the ball. This marks the beginning of over hyping. These depictions can change the perception of athletes, outshining what they’re really doing on and off the field.
Since Bo, many players were built to be unstoppable in pixelated renditions. To name a few like him, Michael Vick, Reggie Bush, and Randy Moss were all given superhero like abilities in their prime Madden years. These players all had issues surrounding their persona in real life, but it’s easy to love them regardless. The bottom line is, players are favored over others, and while this can create bias for the players interests, it’s usually for good reason. All the players mentioned above have proven in their career at one point or another, they’re the best around.
Do the best deserve to be revered and protected by the physical realm? If the best live up to the bar that Jackson and Jordan have set in the past, then yes, they should get the royal treatment. These guys are getting paid millions every year to play a game, why not go the extra mile of glorifying and immortalizing them. Out of all public figures, politicians, entertainers, and musicians— athletes are the top dogs. For the sacrifice that they make with their bodies, a veil of acceptance is cast over them, and they become idolized at a deep level by fans of all kind. I’m okay with giving them this right of passage, as the world needs sports to thrive. Sports feed the economy, our hearts, and our childlike wonder. With all the new greatest athletes breaking through— Lebron, Harper, Messi— there’s no telling what hoops we’ll jump through next.