Imperfect but authentic heroes: Daniel Alfredsson
In Ottawa, Canada where I live, one of our hockey players earned some time in the spotlight last night. Daniel Alfredsson, who played for the Ottawa Senators NHL hockey team from 1994 to 2013, soaked up a shower of adulation on the day he announced his retirement from the game.
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) December 5, 2014
We Ottawa Senators fans adore Alfredsson, affectionately known as Alfie. He is so good, fans of opposing teams boo him, and that’s a sure sign of high quality play. We adore him even though he left our city for a while; we adore him because he left our city for a while to stand up for his principles. We adore him even though he made occasional (very rare) missteps; we adore him because he made occasional missteps. We adore him even though he spoke the brutal truth when our team did not play well; we adore him because he spoke the brutal truth and didn’t feed the media stock soundbites.
We think we want heroes of the bulletproof variety. We expect to lose faith in them if they fail. But we don’t. We like our heroes real, and that inevitably means fallible. Heroes that stick, the real, durable sort, gain that status because they don’t try to be heroes. They live their truths—win, lose, gain, fail—because they don’t know any other way, not to please us.
That’s what I’ll remember most about Daniel Alfredsson. I’ll remember his determined style of play, I’ll remember his last-second, save-the-day goals, and I’ll remember his role as an ambassador for mental health awareness. Most of all, I’ll remember his authenticity.
Authenticity. The word crops up around me more and more often these days. Unconventional heroes proclaim themselves in this transformational age of authenticity, and we love the real people who beam with joy once they shed a false faςade. How can we not love Ellen DeGeneres and Neil Patrick Harris? Their authenticity reassures millions of LGBT people around the world. And how can we not sigh with relief when we learn that the adorable Sean Mendes gets zits just like the rest of us?
— Shawn Mendes (@ShawnMendes) November 30, 2014
Be real, everybody. If you are, you’ll be a hero to someone.