We've got way too many heroes these days. It used to be someone had to do something spectacular -- far above and beyond the call of duty, as it were -- to qualify. Not anymore.
All the military folks have become heroes. Ditto for a firefighter rescuing a kid from a burning building. Likewise, teachers are heroes when their students excel at something. So are the kids for excelling in the first place. Win a spelling bee and you're a hero. If a janitor manages to catch a ferocious mouse on school grounds -- chances are he's going to be a hero.
Lord knows, awards have gone crazy. There's the Oscars, Emmys, Grammies, Obies, Tonies, and a few others in the entertainment world. People in the media business hand out awards amongst themselves in a bazillion categories.
What do they all have in common? They were just doing their jobs. Some do them better than others, but that doesn't make them heroes. Personally, MY hero was George C. Scott when he refused to accept the Oscar for best actor in his role as Patton. GCS thought it pompous to be given an award for merely doing his job. Obviously, he was the exception. Forget winning. Most will crow over a third place finish, or even honorable mention in ANY category.
Help an old lady with her groceries or return your neighbor's escaped dog to them and -- presto -- you're a hero. Actually not. This is just common decency, not heroic.
Which brings me to the US Open.
There has been much fanfare over Aussie Jason Day swooning from vertigo on the last hole of Friday's round. After several minutes, Day was able to finish the final hole, though still wobbly. In Saturday's third round, JD evidently experience many of the same symptoms midway through. But he toughed it out and is now a co-leader. The announcers marveled at his "true grit". Another hero was born.
Don't get me wrong. Jason Day is a class act and I have the ultimate respect for how he handles himself on and off the golf course, both playing and as an individual. But does that make him a hero or just a nice, if determined, guy competing for a major (cha-ching) championship? If he doesn't finish, he can't cash.
In their typical hero-making mode, the talking heads went on to describe the "tortuous" terrain/layout of the Chambers Bay course itself. Besides being very long, even by US Open standards, it features a roller-coaster of elevation changes. The players have to slog up and down. To boot, there's many steep side hills where balls can land that present a precarious lie/stance. It was insinuated all the players should be considered heroes just to complete such a rigorous grind day after day.
But they overlooked the obvious. The caddies. While the players are navigating the terrain, so are the guys carrying their bags. Besides the clubs, add in extra balls, a rain suit, umbrella, water bottles, towels, a snack or two, and even modern pro golf bags likely weigh at least 60-70 pounds. Every place the player goes, the caddy goes.
So if the players are to be considered heroes for being so tough -- what about the caddies that lugged around those heavy bags all day long? While the player strolls on, the caddy has to chase, retrieve and replace divots. Lots of extra mileage. And rake sand traps after their master blasts out of one. More work.
Who are the unsung heroes indeed?