Summer 2024

The problem with pedestals

We make super heroes out of regular people.

And that’s a shame.

Why? Because those super heroes just want to be regular people like you and me. They don’t have X-Ray vision, can’t run or fly faster than a speeding bullet, and they don’t have super hero gadgets.

They’re human.

Like you and me.

Time and time again they seem to be crying out for us to stop holding them up on a pedestal so high that no one can live up to the standard we set for them.

Sure, you see them clamoring to be known, like showboating to bring attention to themselves instead of the team or staring down an opponent in an attempt to intimidate them instead of paying attention to what’s going on during the next play.

But we feed that ego when we ask for autographs or photos with that athlete so we can brag to our friends that we “met” them, or so that we can add it to our autograph or photo collection or post it to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or some other form of social media to let even more people know how incredible we are.

Some will argue that all of that attention comes with the territory and the millions of dollars those athletes make.

That could be true, but it doesn’t let us off the hook.

It also doesn’t let others off the hook, like the plethora of media (TV and internet) that exist today. They are there for every shortfall or supposed shortfall (guilty until proven innocent is the new media norm), and also every Thanksgiving when seemingly every athlete dishes out meals to the homeless. And each sin and righteous act gets played over and over again for days and dredged up  for weeks, months, years or on slow news days.

A good example is Ronda Rousey, the mixed martial artist who gained fame for her quick victories in a brutal sport.

She’s human, even though everyone wants to make her out to be some robot super hero.

She showed her human side, not when she lost a much-publicized match in less than a minute to underdog Holly Holm, but when Rousey talked about suicide, feeling worthless and wondering what she would do now that she failed.

All because she lost—one match.

The pedestal created was too high.

Most of the responsibility lies on Rousey (we’re all responsible for our actions, good and bad), but when our society has no moral compass (because it’s godless), the media and fans justify glorifying a human so much that there’s no way they can sustain the façade of immortality that everyone thrusts on them.

The elite athletes are good at what they do, but they’re not inhuman.

So when they do humanlike things, like lose, or get depressed, or even die, we shouldn’t be surprised.

But we are, because we’ve made them out to be what they’re not and expect them to act accordingly.

The problem is that the only being that should demand that much attention is God Himself.

Not a god-like being, but God.

And only Him.

He’s the only one who can handle the attention (and He deserves more than we give Him, I’m sure).

Jeremiah knew this when he penned this in Jeremiah 10:6: “No one is like you, LORD; you are great, and your name is mighty in power.”

Job also knew, and he experienced God in a personal way so deep that it shook him to his knees after he lost everything.

We can see Job’s experience expressed in part in Job 11:7-11:

“Can you discover the depths of God? Can you discover the limits of the Almighty? They are high as the heavens, what can you do? Deeper than Sheol, what can you know? Its measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea. If He passes by or shuts up, or calls an assembly, who can restrain Him?”

Jeremiah and Job knew this because they experienced God by spending time with Him each day.

If they hadn’t known God in such an intimate way, they would be like the media and fans today who think god-like status can be attained by humans who have flaws and weaknesses, yet crave to be seen as normal people like you and me.

My encouragement to you is to spend time with God and know Him in as intimate a way as possible, so that we don’t make the mistake of thinking anyone, especially athletes created by God, can be like God.

By Brett Honeycutt

This column was published in Sports Spectrum’s Spring 2016 print magazine. Log in HERE to view the issue. Subscribe HERE to receive eight issues of Sports Spectrum a year.