The Concept and Definition of a Legacy in Politics and Sports

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What is a legacy? Is it the inheritance one leaves behind for others to use and cherish as they please? Is it just being remembered for something like an award or a trophy? Both of these are what some people would consider a legacy. A legacy is about going through the trials and tribulations to succeed and build something bigger than one's self; something or someone who should be remembered for their contribution to the world, or rather just their world. Inherited; some might consider that George Washington inherited the Presidency although he was elected by the people. Washington was elected to be the first President of our country because the electors of his day considered his legacy of success during the American Revolution his rightful inheritance to be the first President of the United States. A legacy Washington left behind as the first President of the United States of America was establishing the tradition of only serving two elected terms as President; his reasoning was to differentiate between the head of the United States and a monarch. This tradition was followed until Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected into the Presidency four times in the mid-1900s. Legacies can be made, destroyed, or altered, it just depends on who is performing. What else depends on a legacy is what others expect from those who are trying to carry on a legacy. In my own family there are several legacies to be carried on and acted upon, and I think that goes for many other families as well.

In my family there are several legacies to be carried on. My father and his father were both in the military, my cousin right now is serving as a sailor in the U.S. Navy, continuing the legacy established by my grandfather who was in the Navy during World War II, and the Air Force and Army following the war. Along with the fact that my family is mostly military, almost everyone in my family is from Alabama. My mother and father grew up in Alabama, as well as my aunt, and cousin. Not only do they live in Alabama, but everyone grew up with the dream of attending the University of Alabama. My aunt started the tradition of attending school at the University of Alabama and my sisters, Morgan and Julia, were both accepted into the University of Alabama. Julia graduated in 2014 and Morgan is expected to graduate in 2017. I will be carrying on the tradition of graduating from the University of Alabama, expecting to graduate in the class of 2020.

Along with my family's legacy at the University of Alabama, the university has a football team whose legacy of winning was established by coach Paul Bryant and continued by coach Nick Saban, arguably two of the greatest college football coaches of all time. The Alabama Crimson Tide football team has carried on greatness since the school's football team was introduced in 1893. Since then, the university has won sixteen national championship titles, third most in the history of college football. This most likely would not have been achieved however, without the help of coaches like Paul Bryant and players like Joe Namath. Both are considered football legends, one as a coach and the other as a player in both college and professional football programs. Since the two have departed, the university has acquired several more national championship trophies and will carry on the legacy left behind from these legendary people.

Along with those who come out of the University of Alabama, athletes from all over the world have come and gone and left their marks on history all in different forms. The latest is future NFL Hall of Famer, Peyton Manning who just won his second Super Bowl title. Manning is the first quarterback in league history to win two Super Bowl games on two different teams. This was his final time stepping on the field and he made the most of it by following in the footsteps of others whose last games were also Super Bowls like John Elway, Michael Strahan, and Ray Lewis. Although this feat by Manning is amazing, it is nowhere close to the best. Some NFL critics like Tony Kornheiser off of the ESPN TV show Pardon The Interruption would argue the best player of all time is none other than "the golden boy" Tom Brady (Kornheiser, 2001). The golden boy was a nickname given to Brady after winning a Super Bowl as a backup quarterback for the New England Patriots. His resume is far more superior than that of Peyton Manning; four Super Bowl Championships, three Super Bowl MVP awards, two NFL MVP awards, and many shattered records over his fifteen-year career in the NFL, where Brady was not even supposed to start playing until after the Patriots' star quarterback Drew Bledsoe retired. Bledsoe's horrific blood vessel injury in 2001 during a game against the New York Jets gave Brady a shot and he took it with pride. He would take the team to a Super Bowl victory that year against the St. Louis Rams. All in all, Tom and Peyton are both considered two of the greatest who will ever play football, and no matter what happens with either career they will both leave behind a legacy which will be viewed with astonishment.

These huge figures in sports history have left their mark on the game they play and the lifestyle they live, there have been others in American history to leave behind something huge; it is sad to say though, that most people have forgotten what he has done for the country because his name does not stand out as much as others from his time. His name is Alexander Hamilton, and he left behind something much bigger than himself which is still used today and was actually the basis for America's Constitution; Hamilton left behind the establishment of a National Bank with the system in place called the Federal Reserve System. According to the Federal Reserve's educational website, Hamilton was the first to urge the importance and idea of a National Bank which would assume the states' debts (2015). Hamilton was also one of the first Federalists, in the same political party as George Washington and John Adams (History.com, 2016). Hamilton did found one of the most preserved and successful businesses in United States history, but was often criticized for his scandal with Mariah Reynolds while holding the office of Secretary of the Treasury, according to the musical about Hamilton's life written by Lin Manuel Miranda (Miranda, 2016); this information is validated by the book Miranda used in order to write the musical, which was a biography of Alexander Hamilton written by Ron Chernow. The musical even captivated a segment about Hamilton's legacy:

"Legacy. What is a legacy? It's planting seeds in a garden you never get to see. I wrote some notes at the beginning of a song someone will sing for me, America, you great unfinished symphony, you sent for me. You let me make a difference; a place where even orphan immigrants can leave their fingerprints and rise up. I'm running out of time. I'm running, and my time's up, Wise up. Eyes up. I catch a glimpse of the other side: Laurens leads a soldiers' chorus on the other side, My son is on the other side, He's with my mother on the other side, Washington is watching from the other side, Teach me how to say goodbye - Rise up, rise up, rise up, Eliza! My love take your time, I'll see you on the other side. Raise a glass to freedom" (Miranda, 2015).

Miranda included this in the musical to capture Alexander Hamilton's final moments as he just finished his duel with Aaron Burr, his first friend and final enemy as it was anticipated in the book written by Chernow. Hamilton's legacy still lives on today in our national banking system, while Aaron Burr is only remembered as the angry Vice President to Thomas Jefferson who shot Alexander Hamilton in cold blood. This was ultimately Burr's downfall, which is portrayed in the musical Hamilton, "Death doesn't discriminate between the sinners and the saints. It takes and it takes and it takes, and history obliterates. In every picture it paints, it paints me and all my mistakes. When Alexander aimed at the sky he may have been the first one to die but I'm the one who paid for it. I survived but I paid for it. Now I'm the villain in your history, I was too young and blind to see... I should've known, I should've known the world was wide enough for both Hamilton and me" (Miranda, 2015).

A legacy is not only to be passed on as a chore as some would view it. A legacy is meant to be upheld, and to be cherished by many other generations to come. A legacy should be carried on with pride and should be something people look back on for guidance; for example, how Manning and Brady were able to be such successful athletes even as they near the age of forty, which is past when many athletes would retire because of the wear and tear their bodies take. How Alexander Hamilton was able to finally get his financial plan approved by the Congress and how his voice was able to be heard when he was viewed as too outspoken and too radical to be taken seriously. How George Washington was able to set the precedent for holding only two terms as President, which later became a law. How ordinary people like myself can start off small and end up being looked up to. What is a legacy? It is something to be remembered, inherited, and passed down forever.

Works Cited

  • Bank of the United States. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.history.com/
  • Chernow, R. (2004). Alexander Hamilton. New York City, NY.
  • Miranda, L. M. (Writer). (2016, February 10). Hamilton. Live performance in Broadway, New York City, NY.
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The Concept and Definition of a Legacy in Politics and Sports. (2022, Dec 12). Retrieved June 20, 2024 , from
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