&#91SPORTS VIEW&#93Slavish athlete worship is worrisome

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&#91SPORTS VIEW&#93Slavish athlete worship is worrisome

The fan in the world of sport is somebody special. He is not on the field nor cuts he deals nor fires or hires he players. He is truly unique. Fan power has become a force to be reckoned with.
If you browse the homepages of fan clubs you will be surprised at some of the stuff posted there. Some diehard fans vow to exact revenge on a player who had supposedly uttered something snooty about another player. Stuff like this circles around on the Internet every day ― the stuff of rumors at best. Whenever I read this I am astonished at how people can become so obsessed with athletes.
A couple of days ago, I was down in the provinces on a business trip and witnessed with my own eyes ― or ears that is ― to what extent athletes have come to dominate some people’s lives. While sitting in a bus terminal waiting for my ride, two girls that I figured were big enough to be high schoolers came along.
Anyhow, while I was busy scanning the newspaper and drinking some canned coffee, the two girls who were sitting next to me kept their eyes glued on a TV screen that was showing some commercials.
Suddenly one of the girls screamed: “Oh my gosh!” I nearly dropped my can, and cursed myself silently for lacking the ability to withstand a mere scream from a high school girl.
I looked up expecting to see the unexpected but all I saw was some Korean soccer player appearing in a cosmetics commercial. “He is so handsome!” said the girl, again screaming but with a sigh.
“He is soooo handsome,” added her friend with a bigger sigh. "Did you see his eyes? They are so cute. I wish I could marry him. “Gasinaya ,” she continued, using a Korean slang word for girl, “you know that he is married. But he is sooo handsome...,..” Both girls sighed again.
The two girls went on to chitchat about this soccer player for the next half hour or so. I must say they had done their homework. Each rattled off what she knew about the player: birthday, physicals, address, sleeping habits and favorite color ― you name it. One girl, I think the one who initiated the whole scene with her scream, claimed to know that her beloved player only wore pink underwear.
At that point her friend conceded defeat. “You are kidding? Really? I didn't know that,” she said. Meanwhile, her friend, savoring her victorious moment with a triumphal gesture, said “I am telling you, it’s true,”and with another sigh added “I think that is so cute.”
I looked at my watch. It was time to go. Sayonara girls! I left hurriedly and took my seat in a bus heading for Mokpo. After hearing that nonstop blather I was looking forward to getting some sleep. “Pink underwear? I didn't know that either,” I caught myself thinking. I shook my head and readied myself for a needed snooze when suddenly I heard a familiar voice: “He is soooo handsome.”
It turned out the two girls were heading to the same place I was. I had no doubt as to what their topic of conversation for the rest of the day would be.
Having an icon is not a bad idea, but we should guard ourselves against obsession.

by Brian Lee
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