Posted by: Ethan Johnson | April 16, 2010

Heroes/The Way Forward

I want to talk about “heroes”. I have been a very vocal supporter of heroes, and decidedly through the lens of women’s athletics. But does this mean that only female athletes are heroes? Or even casting a wider net, that only athletes are heroes?

Not at all.

A thought that I have on a loop lately is heroes redefine the possible. While I opt to glean these lessons through exposure to women’s athletics most often, teachable moments abound.

During an emotional low point recently, a thought exploded into my head that left me both fired up and frustrated. “My name is Ethan Johnson,” I thought, “and I have a mission.”

My mission is to inspire, encourage, and empower the heroes of tomorrow.

Bang! I was filled with ideas of how the realization of that mission might play out. Creating a charitable foundation. Awarding scholarships. Being active in the community. Being a resource for others that need ideas how to realize and achieve their goals.

And then frustration set in as I thought about my paltry bank balance and how I am essentially scraping by. How am I going to make a difference for others when I can hardly make ends meet some days? And how, exactly, do I have the credibility, experience, and connections to realize this vision for myself, let alone for others?

Well, as the motivational speaker Les Brown is wont to say, I don’t have those things today.

But I have a mission, and I am committed to it unreservedly.

I read an article recently that decried the tendency to label athletes as “heroes”, partly because hey, they’re athletes, and hardly on par with firefighters or a member of the armed forces. It also was written through the lens of contemporary Christianity, which suggests that there can be no greater hero than Jesus. Religion aside, I disagree in that heroes are indeed people that can set an attainable example. Leaving sports and religion out of it, I would mentor a child that expressed an interest in being an astronaut to follow the example of say, Shannon Lucid. It means committing to education. It means challenging yourself to excel in school and stay focused on a goal. It means giving yourself the foundation for one day having the opportunity to represent the United States and advance our space program. That doesn’t come by taking the path of least resistance, or refusing to commit to personal and professional excellence.

And it doesn’t make you a hero when you forsake such commitments.

So when I call various people affiliated with athletics “heroes” I don’t mean it lightly. Pat Summitt, Hope Solo, Pia Sundhage – among others – ostensibly do not lead exemplary lives. I’m sure they all have their own demons, their own shortcomings, and plain old bad days.

But these women, among a host of many other people across genders, races, classes, faiths, and so forth, redefine the possible.

It is my wish that I should aid them.

To that end, I have created this blog to shine a light on the various organizations and individuals that are working to develop, promote, and maintain women’s athletic programs both in the USA and worldwide.

Through this, I hope to inspire, encourage, and empower you.



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