The lexicon of sports is replete with references to war. “Hero,” “battle,” “trenches,” “General,” “warrior,” and others have all found their way into the vocabulary of players, coaches, broadcasters and reporters, and fans to describe some aspect of sports. There may be good reason for this, as there are parallels between sports and war, not the least of which is the prevalence of military veterans on the field, especially 40, 50, and 60 years ago. Some well-known military veterans include Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Joe Louis, Roger Staubach, Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson, David Robinson, and Pat Tillman just to name a few.
Nevertheless, as any veteran will tell you, playing a game is very different than war.
Those of us old enough to remember 9/11 can recall how the attitude and habits of the country changed on that day. In some ways they have endured. In some ways we have returned to the old normal. Some of us may remember how in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks with fresh images of firefighters and police officers risking their lives for the sake of others, the sports world suddenly shied away from using terms like “hero” to describe on-field performance. Today however, it seems that the use of “hero” is essentially as ubiquitous as it was on September 10, 2o01.
The goal of “Heavenly Hoops” is to provide “sports commentary with a Catholic perspective.” That can mean a lot of things. Of course the essence of being Catholic is to believe in and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. In doing so, we must comport ourselves with a certain disposition. Such disposition should involve virtues like prudence, respect, and a sense of propriety, among others.
As we celebrate Veterans Day, let’s consider how we can better honor our veterans. Though it may be a small thing, perhaps we can embrace a sense of propriety and respect by avoiding terms like “hero” for our favorite player’s accomplishments on the field and reserve such terms for the true heroes who have fought to preserve the multitude of freedoms we enjoy in our great country; freedoms which allow us to cheer on our favorite hometown teams.