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Olympic Sprinter Oscar Pistorius’ Murder Charge Reminds Us to Be Careful Who We Idolize

Olympic Sprinter Oscar Pistorius
Getty Images, Michael Steele

Oscar Pistorius captured the hearts and imagination of the world last summer, when he became the first amputee to qualify for, and compete in track in an Olympic Games. Using  carbon fiber prosthetic blades in place of his missing legs, Pistorus inspired those who followed his story. Now, one of the feel good, inspirational stories of the year has taken a tragic turn, as Pistorius has been arrested and charged with the murder of his girlfriend.

The story as we know it now, is that the 26-year old South African Olympic sprinter was at home, alone with his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, when she was shot “at least twice” according to an NBCNews.com report. When the story first broke, news sources had been reporting that Pistorius had mistaken his girlfriend for an intruder in the home, and he took action to defend himself. But when investigators caught wind of this report, they were “very surprised” that the shooting could possibly be considered a case of mistaken identity.

This is an unspeakable tragedy, to say the least. And the fact that it surrounds a man that, only a few months ago, the world embraced as a hero for his athletic accomplishments just makes this more surprising.

I keep thinking back to last summer, when I went out of my way to catch Oscar Pistorius’ races on TV, and made my oldest son watch as well because we were watching an historic event unfold. I praised Pistorius for his perseverance in the face of adversity, and let my son know that he could learn a lesson from the man the world affectionately knew as ‘Blade Runner’. I included my high praise in a blog I wrote.

It’s too early to know the complete details of this tragedy, and we may never know exactly what happened. In fact, this could all just be a tragic mistake. But this serves as a reminder that we should keep our admiration for celebrities in perspective. It’s fine to appreciate their accomplishments and praise their performances. They have earned that much. But we should all remember to be careful when our kids are looking at a TV for someone to look up to as an example of how to live. That fascinating person you see on television could be someone completely different in real life.

Do We Praise Our Children Too Much?

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