Of all types of celebrities, I always thought that athletes were some of the most overpaid, over-privileged, entitled and annoying bunch. Admittedly, this was mostly because I’ve never been an athlete and never really had an appreciation for their craft. Also, I was never raised in a sports-loving family so I just never understood what sports contributed to human life.
All that changed this Saturday.
It was the ultimate David-meets-Goliath fairy tale. Worst team ever to make it to the playoffs defeats the reigning Superbowl champs. It’s the stuff of Hollywood, the stuff you could hardly believe to be real, until it happens right before your eyes.
That was when I finally understood the reason athletes get paid so much for what they do. When they do their job right, they put human beings in touch with parts of their heart that they might not have used in a long time. They give us something to hope for, something to cry about, something to be united over (or fight over). None of it is fabricated, scripted or planned. It all happens by the moment, and everybody gets to be a part of it, whether they love it or hate it. All the risks are real, and so are the victories. In the end, when they do their jobs right, they can inspire a whole city to believe that anything is possible. David can beat Goliath. You can challenge the odds, regardless how improbable, and you can triumph.
I still think they get paid ridiculous salaries, and many of them are overpaid, over-privileged, entitled and annoying. However, I may have underestimated their talents a little bit over the years. It’s a lot more than throwing a ball or catching a pass. They help to light a fire in people where they might otherwise go dark. Because of that, I now believe they’re more than athletes. They’re part of the ignition. The rest of us – we are the fuse.