Monday, February 4, 2008

In the News

A couple of news stories caught my attention today. Both ran in the U.S.A. Today.

First, it was reported that as Phil Mickelson came to the third tee on Sunday during the fnal round of the FBR Open in Scottsdale, Ariz., he walked up to Drew Fockler, a young boy watching the tournament with his father, John, and gave the boy his two tickets to the Super Bowl. Mickelson said afterward, "I thought that it would be fun to give them to a father-son. I cherish the time I have with each one of my kids, and I just thought it would be a cool experience for them."

How cool is that. This from the man who a few years ago vowed that he would walk off the course during the final round of the U.S. Open (in which he was in contention), if he received the call that his wife had gone into labor (with what would be his eldest child).

Phil Mickelson has always been one of my favorite athletes. Tiger is certainly the greatest golfer of this generation, and perhaps of all time (Niklaus will remain at the top of that list until Tiger surpasses "18"!), but Mickleson has to be the classiest golfer, no, classiest athlete in the ports world.

Oh, by the way, the cheapest tickets to the Super Bowl had a $700 face value. And, I am certain that the tickets Mickelson passed along were not the cheap seats!

And, to turn a few pages, here is a rather troubling story.

A survey posed high school students with the query, "Starting from Columbus to the present day, jot down the names of the most famous Americans in history."

Here is a list of the most common responses:
10. Albert Einstein
9. Thomas Edison
8. Marilyn Monroe
7. Oprah Winfrey
6. Amelia Earhart
5. Benjamin Franklin
4. Susan B. Anthony
3. Harriet Tubman
2. Rosa Parks
1. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Now, there was a catch: no presidents or first ladies were allowed. But, even taking this into consideration, I find much of this list troubling. Marilyn Monroe? Oprah Winfrey? Amelia Earhart? Susan B. Anthony? Benjamin Franklin is relegated to fifth?

I have nothing against these women. Each was (or is) accomplished and has reached a certain amount of fame. But, just consider all of the great Americans left off the list. How about Paul Revere? Alexander Hamilton? Daniel Boone? Betsy Ross? Eli Whitney? Mark Twain? Henry Ford? Lewis and Clark? Neil Armstrong? Thurgood Marshall? Sandra Day O'Connor? Or, John Wayne? Elvis Presley? Babe Ruth, anybody?

My problem with the list is it reveals something about the ephasis on the civil rights movements of the past few decades (important, though, they have been), and the fascination over celebrity and pop culture to the detriment of teaching on the beginnings of our country.

So, what is your list of the most famous Americans in history?