- AthleticÂ performance is quantified, academic performance is qualified.
- Athletic statistics are public knowledge, academic statistics are closely guarded.
- Athletic heroes are recognized in the early stages of their careers, academic heroes are only noted at the end stages of their careers.
Everyone loves a good hero. We love to learn about them. We love to talk about them. We love to be like them. Nearly every story we’re told in history class includes the tale of a daring hero overcoming great odds. From Hercules to Charles Lindbergh, we craft our stories around feats of strength, bravery, and cunning. Heroes help provide the confidence and courage we need to persevere in our own challenges and help us think that the impossible just might be possible. Heroes can be powerful tools of change, but what happens if you don’t have strong heroes to guide and motivate people? Or rather, what happens when an entire industry doesn’t create those heroes? Industries that don’t nurture the development of heroes lose much of their ability to motivate and inspire the public to achieve greatness within their field. Unfortunately, we know how this works through direct observation. We can see it in practice in our formal education industry. Rather than nurturing academic heroes, we’ve nurtured students who would rather be doing anything other than what is actually best for them. In education, we’ve limited our hero generation to attempts to raise the profile ofÂ long dead scientists and engineers. Galileo, Newton, Einstein, today we all know these names and can recognize them as academic heroes of their own age. Brilliant minds of the long-ago. Unfortunately, these heroes aren’t the type that willÂ inspire the unrestrained passion for learning that our society so desperately needs. What we needÂ isÂ the Lebron James, Peyton Manning, or Serena Williams of physics, biology, or computer science. What we need are the “active heroes” of the upcoming generations. It isn’t that we can’tÂ create these heroes. We know how to do it. Our athletic programs have been doing it since the dawn of sports. So why are Lebron James, Michael Jordan, Serena WilliamsÂ and their like more acceptable as Heroes for our youth than Albert Einstein, Nicola Tesla, or Thomas Edison? The full answer to this question is very complex, but we’ve broken it down into just three overarching reasons: