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#77443 - 08/02/02 08:19 AM Ted Williams - Hero / Legend
Chemeng1992 Offline

Registered: 08/03/01
Posts: 131
Loc: Alabama
With the passing of the Splendid Splinter a couple of weeks ago, there have been many tributes, specials, etc. honoring his life. He was not only the finest hitter ever to play the game but he also served TWICE in the US Navy as a fighter pilot in between his playing years.

I heard an interesting commentary on APR (Alabama Public Radio) hold the laughter please.... about Ted's being referred to as either a 'Hero' or a 'Legend'. The commentary talked of the word 'legend' once being reserved only for something or someone only imagined or fictional per se, while 'hero' was a used for a real, live, breathing person (or of course a fictional character ala Superman).

The gentleman continued on about the media being responsible for the word 'legend' moving more towards actual people - a movie legend (Garbo), a baseball legend (Williams, Ruth, Mays) - that are both famous and been around for awhile. He also contended that in the last couple of decades and most noticeably since 9/11, that 'hero' is reserved for only those individuals that do great things for mankind. He remarked that this came about as our sports/entertainment 'heros' really became amoral hooligans (more my words than his).

A prime example of the generational usage of the terms was George Dubya and George Jr. The senior Bush referred to Ted Williams as a hero but grew up admiring Williams as a baseball player and they were both Naval pilots - the junior Bush referred to Williams as a baseball legend.

#77444 - 08/02/02 10:24 AM Re: Ted Williams - Hero / Legend
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11613
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
Let's see; Ted Williams--you said hitter--must be baseball?
Well, Chemeng, I hope that when people refer to sports players as heroes, that both they and their listeners understand that it is in the context of the game only. I think perhaps the term legend comes into play when a person has been talked about over vast spaces and time.

I must say that although I guess sporting events are okay for students, I believe that professional sports are morally criminal. I think it is wrong, wrong, wrong for some people to get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to play a game--a god-damned game--when there are people who are going to sleep hungry and/or cold every night. I mean, these players are adults--let them go out and get a REAL job. That's the whole point of getting through school: to go out and do some good in the world, not keep on playing children's games. Yes, I know that some of them DO do some good: entertainment value, and charitable donations, visiting sick children, etc. But that brings me straight back to my original point: all these things are icing on the cake of society; and that cake is a hollow shell. Just think of what wonderful improvements could be made if all the money spent on stadiums, tickets, refreshments, souvenirs, uniforms, equipment, and salaries went to programs to help people become able to take care of themselves and their families adequately. I don't think for a minute this will happen, but I would love it if pro sports were abolished until all citizens had at least adequate food, shelter, and clothing.

#77445 - 08/02/02 11:36 AM Re: Ted Williams - Hero / Legend
Hyla Offline

Registered: 12/14/00
Posts: 544
Loc: San Francisco, CA
Thanks for posting on this, Chemeng. I heard the teaser for it on NPR while driving to get my son from school, but didn't actually get to hear the full piece. I've been bothered by the overuse of "legend" for some time, particularly because, to me, the word does mean something unreal or mythical. Among a number of other definitions, AHD gives:

1a. An unverified story handed down from earlier times, especially one popularly believed to be historical.

So when I hear someone described as a sports legend, I get the sense that perhaps that person might not have really existed, that he was the Paul Bunyan of relief pitchers or something.

Another AHD sense captures the Ted Williamses of the world: 2. One that inspires legends or achieves legendary fame. But there seems to me such a difference between being a major modern celebrity and being the Loch Ness Monster, or Tarzan, or even Johnny Appleseed, who we know existed historically but who has achieved such legendary status that most people think he's just a story.

#77446 - 08/02/02 11:55 AM Re: Ted Williams - Hero / Legend
Hyla Offline

Registered: 12/14/00
Posts: 544
Loc: San Francisco, CA
Jackie - this is something that troubles me greatly as well. The idea of a baseball player (ar any other pro athlete) making tens of millions of dollars while kids go hungry is appalling. At the same time, there are lots of similar instances where the money could have been spent elsewhere and made a real, positive difference, and I am genuinely unsure where I would draw the line, and I'm sure others would draw it somewhere else entirely.

The movie Titanic cost over $100 million dollars to make, IIRC - and, for my money, it sucked. But there are other films that have made me weep with joy, or really affected my life (my partner and I basically decided to have a second kid after seeing The Straight Story, so I wouldn't wish for that film never to have been made). Should we look at making movies in the same way as you look at professional sports? That they shouldn't happen until everyone is out of poverty?

I definitely agree that the egregious example of pro sports salaries seems like an easy thing to target and say "Let's spend that money on our schools" or something like that. (But I also happen not to enjoy pro sports, so it would be no sacrifice for me.) But there are also smaller, more widespread things out there to look at in the same way - if every American for the next ten years decided that rather than getting a newer, bigger TV/DVD player/SUV, etc., they'd somehow use the money to improve the lot of those less fortunate, it would make a vast difference (networks and advertisers would hate it, of course).

I fear I'm coming across as a devil's advocate, a position I hate taking, as I often feel it's just an excuse to be an a**hole - I guess I'm saying I agree with you, that the priorities represented by paying ball players millions while leaving people in suffering are pretty warped, but we're choosing to sacrifice something we don't care about. Others may have a different view of this.

I'm off to increase the caffeine levels in my blood, so I can take another look at this post and see if I made any sense at all.

#77447 - 08/02/02 01:14 PM Re: Ted Williams - Hero / Legend
Chemeng1992 Offline

Registered: 08/03/01
Posts: 131
Loc: Alabama
Jackie - a couple of thoughts on the whole pro sports thing.

1) I can't imagine the amount of goods/revenue/jobs/etc. that are created by pro sports. Take away 28 professional football teams and from Pepsi Cup manufacturers to Russell Athletics to janitorial services to ticket sellers to you name it......thats a lot of jobs, tax dollars and manufacturing support that's lost!

2) Pro sports is just part of the entertainment business. Hyla mentions movies....how about the rock bands on down to David Copperfield and the Boston Pops?? How much is paid to see them perform? How much do they bring in and contribute in jobs/tax dollars/etc.?? How much did the facility cost where they perform? I don't know if this is really comparing apples to apples, but I guess my point is that if you are entertainment and the market will support you, what's wrong with it? How much would you pay to see Bob Hope or George Burns? $100 a ticket? What jobs is he creating?? Don't they make millions and millions a year??

3) Pro sports IS a real job. These guys have exceptional talent in a business that demands their talent. Is being a garbage man a real job? Doesn't demand any talent, no discernable job skills, no education.....is it 'real'? These people are away from their families, they train, they learn, they perform or get let go, just like the rest of us with 'real' jobs. We don't get multimillions, but we also work for more than the average 3-5 yr (Football) or maybe 7-9 yrs (Baseball), don't worry about breaking bones or being knocked unconscious, and don't get booed, get threatening phone calls if we do a bad job, and can't get traded all over the country.

4) $$ into programs is not always the answer. Look at inner-city public schools. Typically the highest $$/student and we all know the result. People have to be committed to making themselves better and throwing money isn't the trick. The numbers of people that have gone off welfare since our gov't STOPPED paying them to sit and home and STARTED paying them only if they worked a little, attended training, etc. is evidence to that.

Sorry to disagree with you here Jackie (and yes, I'm a huge sports fan), but I think you're off-base (pun intended) here.


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