Sports stars aren’t heroes

In discussing the difference between a star and a hero, a football Sunday is a pretty good place to start. The NFL uses the violence of its game to lionize the participants in a way that baseball, basketball and hockey cannot match.

The NFL is packaged and sold with theme music that sounds borrowed from an old Napoleonic march. Its players are cast as warriors, its coaches as generals. John Facenda’s voice-of-God tone wouldn’t have worked half as well anywhere else.

But last week in football and in sports was a bad one for those who can’t distinguish athletic victory from social virtue, and a good one for those trying to teach kids that a three-touchdown day in the sun and a 100-mph fastball out of the pen do not a heroic man make.