Sunday, March 2, 2008

3-2-08: Star Power

I've often wondered why it seems like today's society revolves around stars. Whether it's Hollywood, business, sports, or anywhere where some one can stand out, people pay so much attention to the individuals at that level. It's almost as though they were the only ones there sometimes. The media will showcase a game, let's say an NHL game, as "Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals take on Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins." Why do this? Why is so much attention paid to the stars?

I think it's simple psychology. I'm sure there have been numerous studies on this and papers written in several different fields, but it's simple: people identify with individuals. You can't think "Hey, I really can relate well to the San Francisco 49ers." No, you'd say "I like Joe Montana; he reminds me of myself a little bit." How is up to you, but the point is: it's the individual. You could theoretically say you like how a team is run, but that can only go so far. It always breaks down to the individual. That's why they don't do "team interviews" after games.

But how does this relate to the idolization of stars? It's easy to make the connection, of course, using the same reason as in the previous paragraph: individuals relate to individuals. But that's not everything, right? In sports it's a bit different, since most of the time it's a team effort. So it's not exactly the same reasoning that goes into the idolization of music or movie stars. Sure, there's a "team effort" in how that star got to where they are now, but it's their career. In sports, you could be a great athlete and still never get any attention. It's about your team. Archie Manning is a great example. He was probably as good or better than either of his two star sons Peyton and Eli, but he played on a bad team and never got the attention that a Joe Montana or a Tom Brady would.

The real issue is that I don't think it's good to let kids idolize athletes. I always like to point out the lesser known players. It's good to point out the team players, who may not have the talent of a star but still contribute almost as much. A great example of this is the relationship between Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen during the great championship runs of the Chicago Bulls. But it wasn't just those two: their coaches were great, and their teammates were great. We teach kids so often about how it's important to be part of the team. But it seems like we also point out how great it is to be a star. There's a disconnect that needs to be pointed out and corrected though: stars become stars with the help of others. We need to stop treating kids like they're all going to be stars, because chances are the more often we do that, the less often a star will be born. My favorite thing to see is when a star puts the spotlight on a teammate. That's always nice to see.

In other news, I'm going to a lecture on global warming on Wednesday. It will be given by Christopher Monckton at the Wilde Auditorium at the University of Hartford. It starts at 5:00PM. It should be interesting.

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