Expand Your Sports Horizon to Include Worship of Local Heroes

It goes without saying that only a select few make it in professional sports. But many more folks "make it" through their heroic work in our local communities. And they deserve your worship, too.

In the sports world, there is a tendency for all of us to get caught up in hero worship.

The big names and big stars are people all of us follow, if only to satisfy our celebrity curiosity craving. What does Bulls guard Derrick Rose think about getting back to work now that the NBA labor dispute has been settled? How much money did he lose during the strike?

Who does a better touchdown dance? Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers? Or the two hopelessly out-of-touch folks in the television insurance company ad? You know the ones: they mimic Rodgers’ championship belt routine by working their hands across their midsections in a “Discount Double Check” move.

I’m here to tell you there is nothing wrong with a little hero worship. The trick is to maintain a proper perspective, to understand that stars come in all shapes and sizes, just like the mass population. Some are tall and skinny and can dunk a basketball. Some are fat and squatty and play nose guard.

Some protect our liberty. Others work to make a big difference in their own little neighborhood. Let me introduce you to one of those individuals. Her name is Janet Haubenreiser.

Perhaps you know her as the coach of the Oak Lawn girls basketball team. She is a hero because she positively impacts the lives of so many young people in her role as a teacher and a coach. And she is a hero because she is rallying support to raise breast cancer awareness and funds at Oak Lawn Community High School.

Haubenreiser issued a challenge to Spartans everywhere through an Oak Lawn news release that popped into my inbox earlier this week. She is looking for fans to pack the gym on “Pink Out Night” as the Spartans look to help three of their own staff members diagnosed with breast cancer: Krista Mannion, Karen Janecek and Jeanette Infusino.

The Pink Out promotion is set for Thursday, Dec. 8. Four games will be played at Oak Lawn, including the marquee matchup, one that pits the varsity Spartan girls vs. rival Oak Forest. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.

“We hope that both the funds from the game and the support of the staff and students will help them in their fight against breast cancer,” Haubenreiser said.

I’m sure similar breast cancer awareness events and fund-raising efforts will be staged throughout the Southland as the school year moves forward. The people organizing these type events and working to make them succeed are heroes and should be applauded for their efforts.

If possible, take a moment to worship them. Give them a hug. Extend a handshake in a show of gratitude. Demonstrate you understand there is more to life than swishing a basketball three-pointer or scoring a football touchdown.

Then, by all means, feel free to think of football as a way life, to indulge yourself in some guilty pleasure. Everybody needs an escape outlet or a fantasy world to duck into at times. One of my “heroes” died on the eve of the Ohio State vs. Michigan game a couple years ago.

I am reminded of a bumper sticker that guided me like a compass when I was a boy: The Lord is My Shepherd, but Bo is My Coach.







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