The Lure of Glory
Being an unsuccessful college athlete doesn't get me a ton of street credit, but working with college athletes for 9 years now has taught me something - glory is attractive. When standing at a college football practice, this analogy hit me (perhaps it hit you a while ago, but I am slow) – glory is a temptation for college athletes, it is the modern day call of the Sirens. In Greek Mythology, the infamous Sirens, mythical creatures with bird-like bodies and beautiful human heads, were irresistible. Their mythical fame is founded in the their luring song that was overwhelming to sailors whose journey led them towards their island of habitation. Once you hear the song of the Sirens, it was said, you couldn't resist, following them to their island where you would remain till death or be so entranced you would crash your unmanned ship and die.
Athletes in our culture are at the forefront of our lives. They are one of the greatest sources of entertainment for us, often in control of our emotional well being, holding our weekend’s enjoyment in their hands. The pedestal they stand upon comes with great struggles and pressures no doubt. We should not forget this or underestimate the difficulty that comes with being athletically talented to this degree. On the flip side of this coin is the glory and popularity. It is hard to resist this. Here is where most of the trouble begins for college and professional athletes – when they can’t resist the call of glory. Some athletes, like Mike Sweeney (five-time MLB all-star formerly of the Royals) and Tim Tebow, can resist it or redirect it to God. Most athletes get caught in the glory trap.
It is alluring, like the call of the Sirens, and we want it more and more. It can throw us off our course, redirect our attentions and actions towards a path we actually didn’t want to venture down. It can make us forget that life is longer than the short ride of athletics, or that we need to prepare for life after our career finishes. It can blind us to decisions that have lasting consequences because all we see now is the call of glory and the fun it seems to give. When we forget, or get thrown off course, or become blind, we can easily crash and burn.
Odysseus, in this part of his story, provides a great lesson and example for us all, especially for athletes – know the reality in which you have entered and take all the precaution to remain planted on firm ground rather than the sand of glory. Plug your ears with wax and tie yourself to the mast so you will not fall to the lure of glory and crash and burn.
Whether we are an athlete or not, let’s proclaim the words of Mumford and Sons, “Make your sirens call, sing all you want. I will not hear what you have to say, cause I need freedom now and I need to know how to live my life as it’s meant to be.”
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The Lure of Glory
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