a hero

I once worked as a journalist but totally bombed it. I bombed it because as a creative writer at heart I have a ‘box of metaphores’, flowery language and couldn’t just keep to the facts. Fair enough, reporting is just that, especially news reporting. It’s supposed to be objective. It’s supposed to be a space where you have attributions and you get all sides of the story and you give a balanced approach to the truth. You try to relay the truth in it purest form, sans opinion.

It doesn’t seem to be the way of journalism anymore. These days it seems to be all about being as subtle and ‘objective-seeming’ as possible but actually totally biased, in order to subliminally sow hatred in the minds of readers.

The BBC made this clear to me and as a result I’ve lost quite a lot of respect for this broadcaster who is supposed to be unbiased, giving fair and equal voice to all people involved.

In their recent article: ‘Why is America’s Newest Hero so Polarising?‘ they blatantly speak about one polar opinion as the good and lovely opinion and the other polar opinion as bad and bigoted. This is a message that is becoming all too common in everyday discussions but it’s not one I thought I would read about on the BBC.

The truth is that Megan Rapinoe (the USA soccer captain and World Cup star) is polarising. She has a very big personality, she is very confident, outspoken and openly gay and not everyone likes what she says or how she presents it but that doesn’t mean that everyone who isn’t a fan of her is also anti-female-empowerment or sexist or bigoted (as the article seems to suggest). Not everyone who is turned off by her comportment feels so because of their views of her sexuality. But the article very much makes any reader who is not on the Rapinoe fan list feel less of a human for being so.

So this less of a human, as in me, as in I don’t really enjoy Rapinoe’s rapport, is going to use this insignificant space on the internet to explain the real reasons why I didn’t really enjoy her speech or get excited about ‘America’s new hero’.

Having played football at a high level for a while, I’ve had many captains who got to that position because they were just darn amazing at football and usually had a good work ethic to go along with their talent. Megan obviously fits this bill. I don’t know what she’s like to her teammates so I can’t judge but her public persona reminds me too much of those captains and teammates I had who led by talent and not by character, whose ability to score was incredible but whose ego meant they were a bit intimidating at times, could be mean and condescending and didn’t spend long journeying with and encouraging the lesser talented on the team. I’m not saying Megan is like this as I don’t know, I’m just saying that her whole body language mimics and reminds me of these teammates I’ve had, these teammates who left a bad taste in my mouth, who made me feel the most unloved, who made me feel the most inadequate in my moments on the field when I wasn’t doing so well. Trust me, I still have nightmares of these moments.

The truth is, I was also like this in high school. I became captain of my team because I was super into football and scored most of the goals but thought so little of some of the players, shouted at their mums for complaining when their daughters got pushed around and told my teammates off when I thought they didn’t serve the ball well enough for me. Yes I was passionate about giving it my all and took my team out for physical training in an effort to build team spirit and grit. Yes I would die on the field of it meant winning against our rivals. Yes my efforts sometimes won us games. But I was NOT a leader who loved, I was not a leader who empowered, I was not a leader to emulate and celebrate.

I remember another time I won a huge trophy for my house in high school after working extremely hard to win it for the first time in six years. Even though it was a prize for my house, not for me, I ran up to the stage with my hands and chest in the SAME position as Rapinoe’s when she scored. To my actions my principle said, in front of the entire school, ‘Some people need to realise that it is not all about themselves and their glory’. I will ALWAYS carry that with me.

So I’m on the ‘don’t really like Megan Rapinoe’s style of leadership’ end of the polarisation but not because I’m concerned about her being an outspoken woman or a lesbian.

I just crave leadership and role models who ooze humility, who praise their team before themselves, who don’t beat their own chests like gorillas, seek their own glory or use their platform to for divisiveness. My heros will never be the ones with swag, the loudest ones, the boldest ones, the in-your-face ones.

My heros are the ones whose lives speak the loudest, who sacrifice daily for others, who work hard to build others up, who really try to understand every perspective even if they don’t agree, who journey with others, who serve those under and above them with love and compassion, who spread love not hatred, who have strong opinions but their strongest opinion is the importance of loving and encouraging their fellow man. The truth is that these people are rare and I could hardly think of anyone who fits this perfectly as everyone is imperfect. I think of my new pastor at church Simon, I think of my favourite broadcaster Guy, I think of a girl from my college team Z, I think of a pioneering woman in politics Baroness Scotland, I think of my friend Natalie, I think of Messi, I think of Federer, I think of Serena. I didn’t want to name names because I know that fault can be picked with each person. They are human too.

But my point is that we are allowed to choose our heroes. We ALL choose our heroes from the bottom of our hearts. The bottom of every person’s heart is the one place that should be protected from bias because there, at the bottom of our hearts, is the most beautiful place, where we yearn for things we hold so dear.

So YES America’s new hero is polarising, but NOT because of her orientation and sex, but because not everyone wants a hero like her, for good reason, for ‘bottom-of-the-heart’ reasons.

I want to see women thrive. I loved seeing the full stadium at the World Cup Final. I love hearing so many people talk enthusiastically about the Women’s World Cup. It’s about time. But Megan isn’t MY hero. She could be yours, but she isn’t mine, and that’s fair enough, even if the BBC doesn’t see it that way!

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