It’s not a revelation to say that we treat star athletes like superheroes. They are our idols, our legends, the modern demigods. How could a Man City fan not see Aguero as a hero when he scored THAT Premier League winning goal against QPR? How could a Lewis Hamilton fan not see him as a hero when he stormed the final lap of Brazil to win his first F1 world championship in 2008? And how could you not see Andy Murray as a hero when he took the title at Wimbledon in 2013, the first British winner in 77 years?
But now Murray, despite the three Grand Slam wins, despite the two Olympics golds, is 33 years old, has had two hip surgeries, and is having to use wildcards to enter tournaments since he is not ranked. In his only match of the French Open, he was outclassed by the similarly injury-prone Stan Wawrinka. Now people are asking if he should stop taking up wildcard slots and set down the racket once and for all.
It’s difficult to see Murray struggle and it’s understandable to have issues with him taking up tournament slots. But it is not like athletes haven’t struggled in the past and then overcome injuries to return to greatness. And when they do, it is what sport is all about; succeeding against the odds, when no one else gave you a chance.
Tiger Woods dealt with horrific back injuries but returned to golf and won the 2019 Masters. Ronaldo missed countless football games with knee injuries just to come back and tear up the 2002 World Cup. Niki Lauda crashed, suffered horrendous burns and came back to race in the same season, won multiple F1 titles, and cemented a career as undoubtedly one of the greatest drivers ever. It is what makes sport worth watching, someone overcoming all the obstacles to show their undeniable greatness. Obviously, no one wants to see their hero fade out, but if you don’t give them the chance to try, greatness can’t happen. And that’s even worse.