If you think that fans view athletes through a distorted prism, consider how some athletes view themselves.
One interesting example is Greg Norman, whose interview this week with CBS This Morning would provide juicy fodder for a round-table of shrinks.
Asked by Charlie Rose why he didn't live up to his on-course potential, Norman pointed to one overriding factor.
"I was a little stubborn," he said. "I wanted to do things my way."
That stubbornness, the Shark said, prompted him to stick with an aggressive style of play even when caution would have been the better course.
"There wasn't a shot I didn't love," Norman added.
Certainly, Norman was no shrinking violet. With 91 career wins and two British Open triumphs, he cut a swashbuckling figure wherever he played. He was also snake-bitten, losing in more than one major to improbable shots.
And yet, for many fans, the most enduring image of Norman's career springs from his performance at the '96 Masters, where he fell to Nick Faldo, relinquishing a six-shot lead on Sunday.
There, in the shadow of the loblolly pines, Norman was not the picture of unbridled aggression. He looked fearful, almost feeble, fanning several back-nine shots into the water on his way to a closing round 78.
When Faldo embraced him on the 18th green, the golf world had its lingering Norman snapshot: what it showed was a toothless Shark.
But if that's how many fans remember Norman, that's not how he chooses to remember himself. Glancing in the rearview mirrow, Norman sees stubbornness and aggression, and who can blame him? That's a prettier sports picture than the image of an athlete buckling under pressure.
"Sports is an interesting way of understanding a person's psyche," Norman told Rose.
He was referring to his fans and the way they seemed to "live and die" by his performance. But the interview made you wonder: how well does Norman understand himself?
In the CBS This Morning spot, Norman covered a range of subjects, including his success as a businessman who has grown his name into a global brand.
"It's amazing being the living icon," Norman said.
Inevitably, the Shark was also asked about Tiger Woods and his famous chase for the career-majors record. Norman said that Woods faces an ever-tougher challenge, in large part because he's "losing his intimidation factor" -- one of the greatest assets, he said, that an athlete has.
Then came another Woods-inspired question: Had a night on a bad mattress ever affected Norman's golf swing in the same way it had affected Tiger's?
Yes, Norman said, but "most of the time it's the pillow."
You've got to think that Norman has fine bedding. We all need things to help us sleep at night.