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Sidetracked by Sports Heroes and Breaking News

March 20th, 2013by Sr. Marla Gipson

What is it with these sensationalized news stories over a sports figure that is alleged to have killed his love interest? Is it because its about a sports figure and it makes for good drama-more like soap opera drama? “Who-shot-JR” kind of drama. Only this has become the real life, constant, breaking news cycle-the kind of breaking news which lasts for days, even weeks. Yawn. I’m tired of breaking news. I want breaking news when its actually breaking news. Or maybe it is news but not of the gargantuan variety like a mass school shooting or a Pope who resigns once in a blue moon or a natural disaster.  


Perhaps we put our sports heroes on too high of a pedestal. I have heard people reminisce about where they were when they heard the verdict in the criminal trial for OJ. Is this the same as remembering where we were when we heard that planes flew into the Twin Towers? Some remembrances are necessary for our collective psyche and overall wellbeing. They are part of a collective story that needs to be remembered, like the Passover story for the Jewish people. These types of remembrances honor the dead and bring us closer to God.


But with a sports figure who publically unravels in a very dramatic way, is our remembering of that more of a fascination with a hero gone wrong? Is it because sports figures seem to be the highest icons of virtue in our culture and when one of them behaves violently, criminally, and immorally-we can’t get enough of it?


Perhaps this fascination with another’s fall from grace gives us some kind of distraction away from our own trials, troubles, and sins.  If someone who seems so above humanness suddenly becomes more human than we can fathom, it becomes a story that sidetracks us from ourselves. Perhaps we prefer to watch someone else go down the pit so we can feel better about ourselves…?


But maybe here is the real breaking news- its not about who shot JR but about remembering that we all belong to God and God loves each and every one of us just where we are at, even when we behave in lesser ways. If we remember this early enough and often enough in our lives, we might not be prone to  gross misbehavior.   


We are flawed people whose behavior can go awry when we stop forgetting who we are. That’s why Saints are important to us. They are our true Catholic sports heroes. They have kept their sights on God, mindful that as a child of God, and in spite of all their hard work to develop their gifts, their gifts ultimately come from God. They are exemplars of love and forgiveness because they know they are loved and forgiven.


Perhaps during this time of Lent when we are called to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving- prayer might mean meeting our distractions with awareness for what they are- just distractions. Distractions will always be with us. So how do we deal with them?


Possibly we can look at our fascination with these distractions instead and put such fascination in its proper place. And then we can fast a little more from these cultural distractions in order to bring us closer to God. If we do these things, then hopefully we can render service with more compassion for ourselves and ultimately with more compassion for one another.

Sr. Marla Gipson

Sr. Marla Gipson C.PP.S is a Sister of the Precious Blood. She currently lives in Minster, Ohio with a local community of Sisters where she ministers part-time as a Pastoral Associate at St. Augustine Church. She also ministers part-time as a Religious Education Consultant for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in the northern area regional Office of Evangelization and Catechesis and serves as one of the many Course Instructors for catechist certification. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Ohio State University and an M.A. in Theological Studies from the University of Dayton.