JR Swift’s Blog

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Should I be disilluisoned at 46?

Posted by jrswift on December 13, 2009

Has been a bit of a rough year for some of my personal heroes.    In just the last 6 months or so, three people I held in very high esteem have experienced quite a fall from grace.   I guess I should speak to the Tiger Woods thing first.  I’m not really sure how to feel about it.  From the moment he first played on the PGA tour, he has been my favorite golfer.  He has made me pay attention to a sport that I never cared that much about before.  While he had his flaws, he seemed like the genuine article.  He was, it appeared, exactly what he represented himself to be.    I have my share of favorite athletes and entertainers who are full of flaws and actually seem to be play them up for effect.  I don’t mind.  I can be a bit of a ruffian myself from time to time and kind of like the fact that these people are very human.  I don’t necessarily admire them but I like them.  I admired Tiger Woods and I still do.  But I can’t help but feel differently about him today than I did a few weeks back.  He is arguably the finest golfer of this and perhaps any other generation and his dedication, work ethic and courage remain.  But now he is just another flawed person, like the rest of us I fear, and I don’t think I’ll see him much as a hero anymore.  I could honestly care less about people’s personal flaws and foibles and only Tiger’s wife and family have any right to be angry with him over his behavior but the rest of us have the right to be disappointed.  He seemed different.  He was a “role model” and he relished that “role” and now he isn’t.

Two other slightly less high-profile people have also suffered a fall and they were also people I admired.  It was just a few months back that I was very excited at the prospect that Gov. Mark Sanford might seek the Republican nomination for President.   There was at least some buzz in the libertarian community to that effect.  He appeared to be a man of genuine political courage and, while perhaps not as consistent as I might like, one of principle.  Then his sexual failings came out and it was clear that this flaw would prevent from ever seeking higher office and would likely end a promising political career.   I was disappointed not so much in his behavior as a man but because he was a successful politician who believed many of the same things I do.  Successful libertarians are about as rare as unicorns and perhaps those of us who share their political sentiments invest too much hope in the ones we find.  Liberals and conservatives have plenty of  “heroes” to chose from.  We don’t.  And now we have one less.

Finally, the end of the Mark Mangino era at Kansas has left me feeling a bit down too.  It was clear he had to go and not just because of the allegations against him.  He had stopped moving the team in the right direction and, whatever his earlier accomplishments, that meant a change had to be made.  But I also went from feeling that he was a tough football coach who pushed his players to be their best to just seeing him as a big bully.  Coming from a state where football was king, the mediocrity of Kansas football has always been frustrating to me.  For a few years, it looked like maybe that was over and that we could be contenders.  After this past season, it would appear we are back to our mediocre ways again.   For a time, Mangino represented hope and the possibility that KU would be taken seriously, not just in the spring but in the fall too.  Now that hope is gone.

On a side note, it appears that Kansas has hired a very impressive young man to be its new head coach.  He is bright, dedicated and a true leader of men.  He appears to be of remarkable character and, if he is reasonably successful, I may come to admire him.  He seems worthy of that admiration.  But then again, so did these other men.


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