Olympic Hero

Olympians are not heroes.

Perhaps this is a controversial statement, but in light of the hero-worshiping speechifying over the death of Olympic luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, I feel compelled to make it. (And not just because Nodar’s death so horrifically exemplifies the major themes of the BP.)

Certainly, Olympians are brave–possibly fearless. Certainly, they are able to do things with their bodies that you and I can’t even fathom. But they are still just really good athletes, and athletes are not heroes.

Nodar Kumaritashvili did not die for a worthy cause. His death was a tragic accident that could have been prevented…that HE could have prevented.

As his father told The Wall Street Journal, “He called me before the Olympics…and he said, ‘Dad, I’m scared of one of the turns.’ I said, ‘Put your legs down on the ice to slow down,’ but he said if he started the course he would finish it…He was brave.”

Is this bravery, or a symptom of what is ailing athletics today? Was Nodar Kumaritashvili so caught up in the “Olympic Dream” that he risked death rather than show fear?

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6 thoughts on “Olympic Hero

  1. Abby says:

    I agree, L. I view the word from a Classicists POV and it bothers me to no end when “hero” gets tossed about so carelessly. Nice post!

  2. Lara Ehrlich says:

    I wanted to write an in-depth article delving into the troubled state of athletics in the world today, but realized I’d never finish it in a timely manner. So this is what you get.

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