The dictionary says a legacy is anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.
I heard a retired athlete talk about being a legacy the other day. He mentioned that it was his goal to be a legacy. Which made me ask the questions, what does it mean to be a legacy in sports? do you create the aura of a legacy on purpose?
My opinion? A legacy in sports as someone who gets talked about throughout history. It's not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, it's just you have become a part of history that will be discussed. Nolan Ryan punching the lights out of someone while on the mound is part of history, but he's known for his actual pitching. That's his legacy, people talk about him constantly. Every pitcher is compared to him. Mike Tyson bite Evander Holyfield's ear in half, and was such an amazing boxer that his legacy is just being a bad ass. Basically, don't mess with him. Did these two men ever sit down and think about how they would be remembered in history? Probably, but did they try and do things to make people remember them? Probably not. They just did their best, and had a few "angry" in the spotlight. At least, in my opinion. Maybe I just don't know enough about them. They are still in the spotlight now. Heck, Tyson is a movie star.
I see a legacy as something that defines who we see a person as. Who we compare others aganist. What defines roles in the different types of sports. What defines our expectations. What makes us love the teams and players. It's what draws us in. It can also turn us away, if the athlete tarnishs our opinions with how we remember them.
Think about Reggie Bush. He never tried to make a legacy out of what happened at USC. It just turns out that is part of his history now. He's the only person to ever have their Heisman stripped away. We all know his coach got away with it. His name will forever be associated with scandal. Yes, he's in the NFL doing very well. However, when you think of Reggie, what do you think of? When you think of college's skirting the system, you still think of Reggie. Unfortunately, that's going to be his legacy. Michael Vick? Same thing. He's a dog fighter. He's been forgiven and he's back kicking butt in the NFL, but he is legacy will be negative. It's unfortunate.
So, what about these players that seem to think they can create their own legacy? The former athlete I heard was discussing his career, and even though I thought he was full of it from the beginning, I didn't think he really understood what a legacy was. I don't believe that we can create a legacy. That we can sway people's opinions and make them remember us as something specific. The general ones are possible: being a stand up citizen, being kind, being a good business person, doing right by their teams. That's just how you act and treat people. Anyone can control that. But, being the known for something specific? I just don't know about that. This guy had it in his head that he was going to be known for this one thing. Guess what, no one knows him right now anyways. Unless they used to love his team. I had to google him.
Maybe I don't understand what a legacy is. Maybe it's something that people can create. But, isn't it just at the end of your career or life, we decide that this one thing was your contribution to the sports world? Isn't it just something that makes us love the game even more? or something that just turns us away?