This year's Super Bowl was the most watched event in television history. It was reported that 106.5 million viewers tuned in to watch Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints battle Peyton Manning's Indianapolis Colts.
After reading that figure, I think of the societal trend of criticizing the enormous salaries of professional American sports figures. In some circles, the mere mention causes an asphyxiating and angry moral indignation in response to our national values.
Undoubtedly, top athletes hold a powerful position in current American society as is demonstrated by their salaries. While the vices of these athlete's are widely publicized, their virtues, conversely, possess an ability to create movements.
Drew Brees has humbled himself in the face of New Orlean's historical suffering at the hand of Hurricane Katrina. He made his sacrifice and success a part of something bigger than himself, and his team's glory has become an entire city's pride.
Lance Armstrong blind-sided the cancer that attempted to blind-side him by creating www.livestrong.com inspiring countless people and contributing toward a cure. His faith and perseverance has given him seven Tour de France titles to date and has added to the list of his accomplishments that he is fighting a vicious disease that inflicts massive and tremendous suffering on the human race without bitterness or regret.
These are only a pair of examples that show the impact that athletic virtue creates.
There is no room in America for success bashing or for profession-bashing. Not when all of us are expected to carry our own load, in our own field, advancing the spectrum of human accomplishment. After all, if my house is damaged, I call a carpenter whose craft is wood. If my vehicle stalls, I need a mechanic who is skilled at streamlining its capabilities to optimum functioning. When children enter school classrooms, everyone desires that the teachers who lead those classrooms are skilled in giving the priceless gift of literacy and an unfolding awe of the world with kindness and discipline.
I don't want these people to be complaining about not being millionaires or complaining about who are millionaires. I want these people to be pursuing the excellence in their own fields that creates advancement, capital, and human awe and admiration by the power of ingenuity, discipline, and excellence.
In a country dedicated to ideals of pursuing and apprehending the very best of all things, it is apparent that those who contributed to this nation's glory and power, did so by faith, hard-work, and a proactive attitude.
The enemy is not profitability or success. The enemy is gluttony, apathy, bitterness, and inaction. No one who cowers into these qualities is truly successful, just as those who are merely wealthy are not necessarily successful in the truest sense. We all desire to be and to admire the individual who embodies selflessness, compassion, justice, mastery, and excellence.
That's why over 100 million tuned in to the Super Bowl. To watch a battle between two teams who possess excellence, to challenge each other to heights that they could never reach without the power of competition and opposition. To see the finest athletes challenged. To see them rise or fail to rise. To learn lessons about teamwork and personal accomplishment.
That is why America loves sport. That is why they earn millions. Not because of the game they play. But because they have risen. Because they are here to compete. They risk it all in the face of failure and frustration. They do not sit on sidelines. They participate. Like we are challenged to do in a place where we are free to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
And America is inspired by them. We are in awe at watching a running back slip untouched through the defensive line and shedding the ferocious attack of the secondary. We love the lightning quick swing of the bat, the echo of contact, the lunge to the feet to watch the tiny white ball sail into the stands. We gasp at the physical and mental precision of the golfer in form, giving him or herself the gift of placing their miniscule ball near a miniscule hole from 300 yards. We wonder at the dexterity of free runners, and the ingenuity of kite boarders who are unimpeded by earthscapes of snow or water. Athletes provide us a snapshot of a physically limitless existence and take us places we could never go without their daring and precision.
They deserve every dollar they get. Isn't it clear by the level of admiration we have for them as they do what only they can do?