Cristiano Ronaldo: A Study in Greatness

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Cristiano Ronaldo: A Study in Greatness
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

One of the most difficult aspects of being a writer is the struggle for objectivity. As a writer, I write because I'm passionate about football. Passion, however, often leads from objectivity to subjectivity which ultimately devolves into ill-considered opinion. This post then is a catharsis of sorts as I struggle to write objectively about Cristiano Ronaldo.

How do you write objectively about such a polarizing figure? As a basketball fan, I was amazed at the reaction to LeBron James' "Decision" to take his talents to Miami.

Prior to the decision, LeBron was well liked by nearly everyone. Now, he's become one of the most polarizing figures in sports. People either pull for him or they hate him.

So it is with Ronaldo. My purpose in this piece is to find out why.

As fans, we have a tendency to put athletes on pedestals. Charles Barkley famously said he wasn't a role model. I agree. Yet, we want our athletes to be be great, both on and off the field.

Everyone likes a good story. Who wasn't move by Michael Oher's story in The Blind Side? It's why we cheer for Rudy no matter how many times we see the movie. It's why we watch Jimmy Chitwood "comin' round the picket fence" whenever we watch Hoosiers. It's why we love players like Derrick Rose: humble, appreciative, hard-working and well-mannered.

We desperately want to love our athletes, not just as players but as men.

As I started writing this piece I was an unabashed lover of Lionel Messi (and still am). To me he represents everything a star athlete should be. Cristiano was the opposite of that in mind mind. The antithesis of everything that Messi and Barcelona stand for. I suspected that many fans shared my views.

I thus set out to deconstruct Ronaldo and find out if the criticism against him is justified. The slides that follow are the fruits of this labor.

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