The Maudlin Nonsense of Sports ‘Heroes’

-By Warner Todd Huston

Good Lord, what is it with you sports goofballs that have to raise baseball or football players — or ANY sportsman — to the status of national heroes?

Some guy named Bobbie Thomason died yesterday and as a result we get absurd, maudlin prose such as the piece by John Steele Gordon in Commentary Magazine, or the over-the-top New York Times slosh telling us why he was so important to America.

Apparently this Bobby Thompson fellow hit a baseball once and because of it people think he cured cancer or saved the whales or something.

Even more ridiculously, even as his baseball career was apparently completely forgettable the baseball he hit in 1950-something-or-other was arrogantly dubbed “the shot heard ’round the world.”

Now, let’s just think about that, shall we? Until recently Baseball was an almost exclusively American waste of time… ‘er I mean passtime. Most of the rest of the world didn’t give a flip about the kid’s game. So the thought that anyone outside of New York cared much about the game in question is laughable, especially in 1951.

Heck, in 1951 half the world still didn’t even have electricity yet! The majority of humanity in 1951 never even heard of the Brooklyn Dodgers or the New York Giants. Even today 99% of the world couldn’t care less.

So, right there the arrogance of some silly baseball game being something that would be heard “around the world” is a bombast worth derision. And look at the nonsense that a sports writer said of the hit the next day in the paper:

“Now it is done,” Red Smith wrote in The New York Herald Tribune. “Now the story ends. And there is no way to tell it. The art of fiction is dead. Reality has strangled invention. Only the utterly impossible, the inexpressibly fantastic, can ever be plausible again.”

Give me a break, will ya? What tosh!

Listen, people. Madame Curie is a hero. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a hero. General Grant is a hero. Even John Glenn is a hero. This Boobie Timmison is NOT a hero. Sports guys are just Peter Pans that never grew up and contribute nothing of tangible worth to society. Zip, zero , nada.

And for those that will look at me gape mouthed and mumble about baseball being “as American as Apple pie,” yes I agree that sports is a big part of American life and has been for about 100 years or so. But it isn’t an important thing. In fact it is one of the things that makes us look a bit silly, really. Just as soccer makes the rest of the world look unhinged, our own sports makes us look unserious.

America needs to get serious about what constitutes real heroism, what makes true sacrifice, effort, and tangible societal good. Sports does none of this. Sports are fun for kids, sure. It is good exercise on the weekend, I agree. But it does not make for us national heroes. And it should not because a “sports hero” is a mockery of true heroism.

(And now let me once again head off the idiots that will launch into their low-brow, dimwitted ad hominems: yes I did well in sports as a kid, yes I enjoyed sports as a kid, no I did not get left out by the other kids, no I was not the “fat kid” when I was little. In fact I was on a few league champion teams over the years. So jam your childish attacks where the baseball doesn’t fly!)
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s,, and, as well as,,,, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.

For a full bio, please CLICK HERE.

Copyright Publius Forum 2001