COMMENT: Feel as inspired as you wish about goals, tries, wickets, aces and birdies, and even hospital visits, donations and displays of heart-tingling, altruistic, on-field generosity. Yet there is clearly a distinction between "sporting heroes" and "true heroes".
The former brighten up moments, afternoons, days, maybe even weeks and months. The latter change lives, families and entire cultures. But that does not mean a human cannot
be both. And to my mind, Jackie Robinson is the prime example of this.
Thursday marked the centenary of Robinson's birth, and in the United States, there were appropriate celebrations of perhaps the most influential sports figure in their history. But bubbling beneath all the grand words, all the official tributes, all the unveilings and memorials, there was unofficial solemnisation.
And it insisted that within sport in the US and yes, in the entire world, the Robinson legend still falls on deaf and ugly ears.
Born into a family of sharecroppers in Cairo, Georgia, Robinson had naturally experienced racism a long time before he became the first African American to play Major League Baseball.
He grew up in poverty in an otherwise affluent area of the Deep South — because of his skin colour.
He received a suspended prison sentence as a teen for sticking up for a friend — because of his skin colour.
He was punished in the army for striking a training officer for calling a fellow soldier the "N" word — because of his skin colour.
He was court-martialled because he refused to obey when a bus driver told him to sit at the back — because of his skin colour.
Perhaps this history was the primary reason why, in 1946, Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey thought him ideal to break what was known as "baseball's colour line". Robinson was not the best player in the Negro League.
Far from it.
Rickey told Robinson that for the project to succeed, he could never retaliate against taunts.
"Are you looking for a Negro who is afraid to fight back?" Robinson asked. "No, I'm looking for a Negro player with guts enough not to."
Robinson did not just manage it — receiving what a team-mate labelled abuse "so disgusting, it would have embarrassed the slave traders" — but as a late-starting 28-year-old, he forged a Hall of Fame career in less than 10 years.
With respect, the US cannot be accused of underplaying the homage. There is a Jackie Robinson Day, when all players wear the retired 42 shirt and a museum is due to open in
New York this year.
Yet the most enduring legacy should surely exist in the day-to-day reality and it must be asked: "Is it?"
In tomorrow's Super Bowl, most of the participants will be of black origin, but the quarterbacks — ie "the heroes" — will be white and so, too, will be the owners and majority of fans in the stadium. In the background, the case continues of Colin Kaepernick accusing the owners of collusion in keeping him out of the NFL.
If you have never heard of "Kap", he was the first to dare, peacefully, to kneel during the US national anthem in protest at the oppression of black people.
US President Donald Trump has demonised one of Robinson's heirs and so the normalisation of suppression is amplified.
Robinson would bury his head in his hands. He did so much, and changed so much. Yet in so many areas of this sporting paradise, it still seems so little. Telegraph Group Ltd