Mariano Rivera has saved 583 games in his career with the New York Yankees, earning almost $130 million dollars along the way. To the people of his native country, Panama, Rivera is considered a hero.
Jason Kim earned the first and only save of his career with the on July 14. And while he'll never approach Rivera's tax bracket, he is a hero to the people of New Canaan. A real hero.
Last week, Kim at about a 14-year old runner who collapsed after a race. He wasn't breathing and didn't have a pulse. With his quick thinking and incredible cool under pressure, Kim brought the boy back to life.
Perhaps, the only feeling greater than bringing someone into this world, is rescuing a person from leaving it too soon. That is what you call a real save. Rivera can set the all-time saves record and be on the mound when the Yankees clinch another World Series title, but he'll never come close to experiencing the feeling that Kim must've had when he heard that first breath coming from a boy whom many thought was dead.
Kim said that he was and is not a hero. But he is. In this day and age, when we deify athletes because they can run fast, jump high, and throw a baseball 95-miles an hour, Kim should be honored properly for saving a precious life.
Athletes like Rivera should be admired, but they should never be called heroes. They play a game and are well-compensated for it. Hero status should be reserved for Kim and others who put their lives on the line and try to protect ours. The definition of heroes should include firefighters who burst into infernos looking for a life to save, instead of looking out for their own. Heroes are the men and woman who are fighting faceless enemies to protect our freedom in two wars that nobody seems to care about anymore.
Athletes are not heroes. They play games. Policemen, firemen, and soldiers work in the arena of life and death. They are the real heroes.
In a society that is dripping with negativity caused by everything from the bad economy to bad people like Casey Anthony and Bernie Madoff, the news that Jason Kim saved a life seemed to rinse all the bad stuff away, even if it was just for a day.
Jason Kim is a hero. He is our hero. New Canaan's hero.