What makes a hero can be something quite specific to an individual. I believe that it is not just sporting prowess, and maybe not sporting ability at all. It is their sporting ability that puts them in the limelight, but it is what they do once there that can make them stand out as a hero.
There are many other attributes, other than skill, that should be considered for labeling someone as a sporting hero. A hero should be aware that they are a role-models and act accordingly. They usually have the money to do whatever they want to do, and the real heros choose to give some of it back to those more needy, and to be a positive influence in the community. Heroes also should have good family relationships and relate well with people.
In an article analyzing UK heroes, Parry (2009) (see references) concluded that to become a hero athletes should combine skill with devotion to family, charity work and a place in popular culture. I have combined these attributes of a sporting hero with major points from the discussion above to create a five point rating system so that you can rate particular sportspeople on how you think they stack up as a hero. Here are my five criteria of being a hero, and a description of what they mean. To use these criteria to rate some heroes, see the rating page. Are all these criteria equal in terms of what makes a hero? Help answer that question by rating the importance of each of these criteria.
- skill — a hero will be very skillful in their chosen sport
- character — they know they are a role-models and act accordingly.
- family — they have good family relationships and relate well with people.
- charity work — they strive to be a positive influence in the community, giving back as much as they receive.
- popular culture — a great hero will be greater than their sport, and well known outside of sport altogether.